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Children’s Books Ireland and the School of English (Trinity College Dublin) Announce the 2022 Inclusivity Partnership Awardee

10th November, 2022: 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.’

For further information or to arrange an interview, please contact: Claire Hourihane, Children’s Books Ireland +353 87 324 0456

Erin Laidlaw   studied for an MA in French and English Literature at the University of Edinburgh and graduated with First Class Honours with Distinction in spoken French. She has since taught English in France and Spain. Currently she is working at The Ark, a cultural centre for children, in Dublin.

Children’s Books Ireland is the national charity and arts organisation that champions every child’s right to develop a love of reading. The organisation exists to inspire a love of reading in children and young people in Ireland, to share expertise and enthusiasm with the adults who guide and influence them, to champion every child’s right to excellent books and live literature events, and to support the artists who make that goal possible across the island of Ireland. Children’s Books Ireland’s vision is simple: Every Child A Reader.

Trinity College Dublin’s M.Phil in Children’s Literature is taught within a world-leading School of English. The programme pays special attention to the role of the Irish contribution to the development of children's literature in English. The course also places a particular emphasis on archival research, allowing students to explore Trinity’s Pollard Collection of Children’s Books – the largest collection of children’s books in Ireland – as well as working with the award-winning National Collection of Children’s Books project. The faculty are recognised nationally and internationally as experts in the field.