Inclusivity Partnership Awardee announced for 2022

November 2022
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Erin Laidlaw. recipient of the 2022 Inclusivity Partnership award

Children’s Books Ireland and the School of English (Trinity College Dublin) have today announced the recipient of the 2022 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, Erin Laidlaw, was a student from the M.Phil programme in Children’s Literature at Trinity College Dublin. Under the supervision of Dr Pádraic Whyte, she led an investigation into the representation of refugees in contemporary picturebooks selected from Children’s Books Ireland’s Together with Refugees: Reading Guide (2022)

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 M.Phil programme in Children’s Literature.

The Inclusivity Partnership is a continuation of many years of 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, Erin Laidlaw, said,

‘I am really excited to be working with Children’s Books Ireland to research the representation of refugees in picturebooks. With the global refugee crisis, the war in Ukraine and thousands of refugees arriving in Ireland, it is more important than ever that refugee children have access to empowering books which represent them and their stories. Such books can also help settled children learn about refugee experiences. Through my research I hope to understand how refugees are depicted visually and textually, and the messages this sends to the reader.’

CEO of Children’s Books Ireland, Elaina Ryan, said: 'The Inclusivity Partnership Award is one of many actions Children’s Books Ireland is taking to making Irish children’s literature more inclusive. The Partnership encourages critical discourse around important themes and stories and adds to a growing body of research. We are delighted to work with Trinity College Dublin, and we welcome Erin Laidlaw’s timely research into a complex and increasingly relevant subject matter.'

Associate Professor and the co-director of Trinity College Dublin’s M.Phil. in Children's Literature, Dr Jane Carroll, said, ‘This is an exciting and important piece of research. Erin’s project furthers our understanding of the vital role that picturebooks play in opening up a complex topic like the global refugee crisis for young readers. Children’s Books Ireland’s Together with Refugees: Reading Guide both empowers and educates and this Inclusivity Partnership also aims to empower and to educate, making space for new scholarship around inclusive books.’