Children’s Books Ireland and the School of English (Trinity College Dublin) have today announced the recipient of the inaugural Inclusivity Partnership award. The partnership enables researchers to work closely with experts in the area of children’s books to investigate key issues in contemporary publishing for young readers. The recipient, Deirdre Power, is a student from the Masters programme in Children’s Literature at Trinity College Dublin. She will lead an investigation into inclusivity in Irish children’s books, with a particular emphasis on the intersection between empowerment and gender in recent Irish fiction for young adults.
The Inclusivity Partnership was formed in the wake of Children’s Books Ireland’s BOLD GIRLS project in 2018, which marked the centenary of women’s suffrage in Ireland. The project highlighted and celebrated bright, brave and bold women and girls in children’s books, and included an exhibition of items from Trinity’s children’s books collections. Entitled Story Spinners: Irish Women and Children’s Books, the exhibition was curated by staff and students from the Masters programme in Children’s Literature. The Inclusivity Partnership is a continuation of that collaboration between the School of English and Children’s Books Ireland, and seeks to explore diversity, inclusivity and representation in modern Irish children’s books. The partnership invited proposals for MPhil dissertation projects in the areas of race and minority group representation, LGBTQ+ representation, ageism, mental health, and gender and the BOLD GIRLS initiative.
Recipient of the award, Deirdre Power, said, ‘I’m so delighted and honoured to be selected as the first student for this partnership and to be part of such an important initiative on diversity and inclusivity in children’s literature. I’m hoping to focus my research and future projects on diversity, so it’s a wonderful privilege to kickstart my work with the support of the amazing team at Children’s Books Ireland. This partnership is a fantastic idea and is built on the dedication, passion and expertise of both Children’s Books Ireland and the children’s literature programme at TCD, and I am so excited to be involved in its beginnings and watch it develop.’
CEO of Children’s Books Ireland, Elaina Ryan, said, ‘It is wonderful to see the ripple effect from BOLD GIRLS through to our inaugural awardee’s work, and indeed to see female empowerment and three female Irish writers at the centre of her study. This partnership is one of many ways we are working to increase diversity in the field of children’s literature: there is room in the canon for less heard voices and we must continue to encourage dialogue and scholarship around inclusive books.’
Associate Professor and the current director of Trinity College Dublin’s M.Phil. in Children’s Literature, Dr Pádraic Whyte, said: ‘This fantastic initiative has developed out of the School of English’s long-standing collaborative relationship with Children’s Books Ireland and we are delighted to work with them once again on a significant project that promotes diversity and inclusion. It’s an honour to act as supervisor of Deirdre’s timely and important research that examines the complexities of gender representation in contemporary Irish children’s novels. This initiative breaks new ground, asking bold questions about Irish children’s books, about what we decide to include, what we exclude, and why this might be. Long may it continue.’