Outside In World will this autumn start promoting inclusive children’s books from around the world in schools, thanks to funding from Arts Council England (ACE) and the Unwin Charitable Trust.
The non-profit organisation, which promotes children’s literature in translation, will take children’s book authors and illustrators from both the UK and abroad into schools to explore inclusive and accessible titles from overseas.
Alex Strick, one of Outside In World’s co-founders, says the aims of the ‘Reading the Way 2’ project are two-fold: “We want to increase awareness of books from overseas but we also want to generate discussion around more inclusive and accessible literature, which is something we don’t have enough of in the UK,” Strick said.
The project has received total funding of £19,600 - £15,000 from ACE and £4,600 from the Unwin Charitable Trust, which will be used to take authors and illustrators into schools. They will run workshops with pupils around the books, discussing ideas such as why they are inclusive and whether they can be improved.
The schools will also run their own projects concurrently, which could be around creating their own inclusive books, Strick suggested.
The project will run for two years and six mainstream and special schools have signed up to take part. Twelve authors and illustrators will run the workshops – six from overseas and six from the UK – and Julia Donaldson, Jane Ray and Susie Day are already confirmed.
All authors and illustrators will be paid and the funding will also be used to pay for travel expenses and creating resources for schools.
Outside In World decided to launch the project after carrying out research in 2014 and 2015 into which books from overseas were accessible and/or inclusive.
“This research showed that books could provide vital material to enrich the UK book landscape and also provided valuable data and recommendations identifying new and innovative ways of producing books to meet all children’s needs,” said Strick.
“With many children who have different needs effectively excluded from much of the mainstream landscape, Outside In World hopes this project can play a valuable role in improving the long-term picture.”