When I transferred from the School of Geography to the Medical School in Aberdeen, it was with a new plan in mind. It was to not be a Geography teacher, but instead to become a Community Education worker (as it was known at the time). I hoped to get my degree in Health Promotion, then do my postgraduate diploma after graduation.
So I didn’t look into any courses other than Community Learning and Development ones when I applied for graduate school last summer. It wasn’t until I met my roommate in Germany that I knew there was a Graduate course at Glasgow university on Children’s Literature and Literacy. I love hearing about the things my friend is studying, and am geeky enough to want to read her dissertation when it’s done!
As I’ve mentioned, a friend and I would like to write a book for children. Specifically we want to write books that will widen the breadth of knowledge and understanding of other cultures from a young age so children are not hearing a single story of stereotyped cultures. I saw my roommate post on facebook about a conference being organised by some of the Children’s Literature postgraduates at Glasgow, and discovered I could go. They graciously allowed me to come despite only being able to attend for one of the two days (I was gutted I couldn’t go to both) even though I was not a librarian, copy editor, illustrator or author (yet).
I got learn about editing, publishing, writing and designing books for children, how children can interpret and learn from picturebooks and discovered a couple of books I wasn’t aware of and now wish I had more book tokens! (Christmas?).
The first workshop was a children’s author called Jane Blatt and it was fascinating to learn about the research she has done on how babies and toddlers interact with books and how it inspired her book ‘Books Always Everywhere’. I hope Carrie, Kathy and Jenni know their babies may be getting some random gifts in the form of treasure baskets this Christmas! The book was published by Nosy Crow whose presentation I missed (it sounded like I really did miss out!)
I learned about editing from a lovely editor called Morven who recommended some great resources that I should probably use more often. I’m terrible when it comes to blogging for just writing and hitting publish without any proof reading whatsoever. Just so you know – I don’t do that with my university essay or with any work publications!
And then a librarian from Glasgow Life had brought all these books pictured above which we marked to what topics they could be used for to start discussion with children. Folks – for me this was like being in a sweetie shop. I love, love, love books for young children.
And then we heard more about the research being done on Picturebooks from some researchers at Glasgow University. This is where I discovered the most hilarious and thought provoking book called Mr Wuffles which is all about some aliens in a spaceship have a terrible experience with a cat, escape and meet a tribe of ants who have also had some problems with the same cat and how they find friendship through shared experiences and overcome language barriers.
The other books that were introduced to me by fellow attendees which I urge you to check out are The Arrival by Shaun Tan which tells the story of many immigrants with beautiful illustrations. And It’s A Book! by Lane Smith which is all about a tech savvy jackass donkey who has never seen a book before and has to have the concept of a book made with paper explained to him.
I’m hoping that next year I might get the chance to audit some of the MEd Children’s Literature courses so I can learn more. It’s definitely an area of life that I love and feel very passionate about. Something probably (ok, I know) my friends’ kids have picked up on. :)