Lucy Owen will be joining BookTrust Cymru at their annual Early Years Practitioner Conference
Published on: 15 March 2022 Author: BookTrust Cymru
Author, Journalist and Presenter, Lucy Owen will be facilitating a discussion on the topic of Equality, Diversity and Reading for Pleasure in the Early Years at the BookTrust Cymru Early Years Practitioner Conference taking place between 21st – 24th March 2022.
She’ll be joined by children's authors and illustrators, early years organisations and practitioners, as well as other important figureheads working in the world of children's books who will explore why equality, diversity and inclusion are vital in reading for pleasure, and what can be done in the Early Years to give young children the opportunity to feel represented and empowered.
Below, Lucy tells us about her inspiration, why diversity, representation and inclusion are so important in children’s books and the positive impact this can have.
“My day job is as journalist and presenter for BBC Wales. I’ve been in the very fortunate position for the last 25 years or so, to be on people’s tv screens in Wales, sharing the news and people’s stories.
I’ve always loved children’s books and my grandmother used to write stories for me as a bit of fun. I loved them. It was only once I had my own son that I started to indulge myself and try and write poems and stories for him too. I still don’t consider myself a ‘real’ author though. I’ve just been lucky that some publishers have been willing to take a gamble on me.
Inspiration always seems to come from either my son or the beauty of the natural world. When I’m really moved by what I see or experience, ideas seem to pop into my head. I’d been snorkelling on holiday and had seen incredible sea life, wonderful fish and coral. The Sea House came to my mind.
Blossom trees to me have a unique magic too. When spring brings new life in such a spectacular way, it’s difficult not to be impressed. Flower Girl is about a child, Cherry, created from the petals of a cherry tree, who must earn her place in the world. To have Gabriel, we needed to go through IVF. He arrived in spring, and it has always felt that he was a magical gift in a way too.
Cherry was different to other children, and the story is about accepting differences in yourself and in others. Ruth, one of the characters in Flower Girl has cerebral palsy which impairs her ability to walk. I worked with Cerebral Palsy Cymru to make sure she was depicted accurately in the story. Ruth is strong, smart and determined and doesn’t let her condition hold her back in any way.
It was important to me to include a character with a disability in the book, but for that disability not to be the focus of the character. I hope readers will remember Ruth for her intelligence, sensitivity and kindness.
Diversity to me should simply be a part of children’s books now, to reflect all aspects of the world around them. I think children expect representation, and we need to deliver for them. If, from a young age, children can get access, not just to books, but to more diverse stories too, imagine how that would enable them to grow with empathy and understanding.
Through Flower Girl, two charities have come together to create something wonderful. National Trust Cymru, who run a Blossom Watch campaign every year, is now donating blossom trees and plants to the new Cerebral Palsy therapy centre in Cardiff and 350 families who use the centre will be given free tickets to access any National Trust sites in Wales. This collaboration lifted my heart into the sky, like blossom petals caught on the breeze, showing the real-life impact that diversity in children’s books can have.”
To find out more about Lucy’s books you can visit her website here.
To register to attend or find more details on the BookTrust Cymru Early Years Practitioner Conference and theme of Equality, Diversity and Reading for Pleasure in the Early Years please see here.
BookTrust Cymru HomeTime
Looking for something fun as a family? We have stories to enjoy, rhymes and songs to share, and fun games and activities from some great authors, illustrators and storytellers from Wales.