A Place at the Table

by | Feb 8, 2018 | Blog

‘A Place at the Table’ provides a unique space for children’s book publishers (and other parties) to come together in order to explore ways of effecting real change, share good practice and commit to specific practical action on inclusion and diversity.
On Tuesday 6 February 2018, Inclusive Minds held their third ‘A place at the Table’ event. I was lucky enough to attend – as tickets sold out. Generously hosted by Penguin Random House up on their 10th floor, it included a brilliant line up of inspirational speakers – against a backcloth of dazzling panoramic views of London. It was a unique opportunity for those involved in the publishing industry; librarians, booksellers and bookmakers, illustrators to exchange ideas, pick the brains of experts, share concerns and tell our own stories.

Diversity and Inclusion was up there as a hot topic. Inclusive Minds had dovetailed some of their young ambassadors amongst us – open to questions and to put their own concerns onto the table back to us. I was warmly hosted by Ambassador Megan Quibell – blogger of the Book Addicted Girl and Emily Davison (with Labrador Unity) blogger and journalist, and disability advocate.

The morning began with keynote speaker, author Juno Dawson (This Book is Gay) – funny, thoughtful, crackling with an energy which remained in the room throughout the day. The thrilling voice of Transgender Performance poet Jay Hulme (Rising Stars New Young Voices in Poetry) rounded off the morning – he generously gave his time to us for the rest of the day. I learnt so much from Jay around our table.

Cerrie Burrell (ex CBeebies presenter and author) spoke in the afternoon of being a ‘solo mum’ and being unable to find a book that reflected her mixed race daughter…she ended with “When a child starts to recognise themselves in a book – that’s when the magic begins”

Here are some quotes from the floor:

  • “We, as publishers need go get out into the communities and demystify the industry”
  • “Editors, designers PLEASE use CLEAR fonts and text layout – I work with kids with visual impairment and dyslexia.”
  • “Most of my friends like to read an authentic voice – unedited, and unpublished stuff online …”(Young Ambassador)

Publishers (Penguin, Bloomsbury) told of their Outreach Programmes and finding mentors for unpublished voices, with free workshops., travel and accommodation.

Di Airey gave an inspirational and insightful summing up at the end of the day…finishing with these thoughts:

  • “Children are born with an open mind – it’s what happens around them that closes it.”
  • “We need to harness the power of literature to bring about change.”
  • “If today has created momentum and energy, it’ s what happens when we leave that counts.”

There’s so much more to say and much more to take away from this event – don’t miss out on ‘A Place at the Table’ in 2019!

  • Find out more about Inclusive Minds and how you can get involved here.