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Children’s Literature in Action Book Publication and Launch

Centre for Language, Culture and Learning, Goldsmiths, University of London

30 September 2022

A lot has been written and said by critics, authors, parents and teachers about children’s books and how they benefit children. But what do the children say? How do they respond to stories and use them to create their personal inner landscapes of meaning?

Goldsmiths, University of London, proudly presents ‘Children’s Literature in Action’ which explores this question through the power of practitioner and action research.

This innovative book contains a series of highly original research studies carried out by students taking the ‘Children’s Literature in Action’ module which is part of the MA Children’s Literature programme. These studies were carried out by MA students between 2014 and 2021. The authors investigate the power and impact of a range of different reading experiences for children from reception to secondary school age. Focusing on different ways in which children’s literature supports the development of empathy, critical thinking and creativity, the book is divided into four sections, each with an introduction by the editors.

Part One: six studies explore the impact of picturebooks on children’s reading and how picturebooks can be used in practice to deepen understanding of children’s own literary lives and their understanding of the wider world.

Part Two: six studies look at how culture and humour motivate young readers. These chapters truly reflect the power of practitioner and action research and should give the reader a spark to give it a go themselves.

Part Three: four studies discuss the use of poetry in the reading and language classroom as a highly personal and effective way to develop reflexivity and be empowered by the nuances of language

Part Four: three studies, undertaken during the pandemic, focus on relationships and how

they affect reading motivation. It reflects a few of the diverse physical spaces and types of relationships in which children may actively connect with stories.

Children’s Literature in Action is beautifully illustrated by our MA Children’s Literature book illustrators (in collaboration with a creative writer). The three lead editors are Richard Charlesworth, Deborah Friedland and Helen Jones. There are 19 MA alumni contributing their outstanding research studies to the book with an introduction by Dr Julia Hope and Professor Michael Rosen and a conclusion by Professor Vicky Macleroy.

Cover design and Reading Relationships Illustration by Georgia Cowley

You can purchase a paperback version of the book here.

You can also read an e-copy of the book hosted on the Centre for Language, Culture and Learning website accessed here: Children’s Literature in Action E-Book

You can watch a recording of the ‘Children’s Literature in Action’ book launch here.


Blog by Deborah Friedland, Helen Jones and Richard Charlesworth (Lead Editors)

IBBY Children’s Literature Silent Book Exhibition

Centre for Language, Culture and Learning Event – Goldsmiths, University of London

11 March 2022 – 10.00 am – 6.00 pm

Poster print design for the book exhibition by Ningjing Yuan, MA Children’s Book Illustration student, Goldsmiths, University of London

This was a wonderful opportunity to see an Exhibition of Silent Books from the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) Honour List 2017.

74 Silent Books from 20 countries

(Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, UK, USA)

What is a silent book? This seems an odd term for a book that always seems so polyphonic – full of voices and sounds. Silent books are picturebooks, comics and graphic novels with no words to tell the narrative. Words may appear on signs and in the illustrations but do not guide or tell the story.

Many of the books are very experimental. I feel like as we grow older, we tend to oversee and overcomplicate everything so some of the books are a bit hard to read and understand without words, but once you slow down and try to see things exactly as they are, it starts to make sense (exhibition visitor).

The exhibition was originally shipped from Switzerland, and we transformed the Top Floor of the Educational Studies department into an exhibition space. The PhD and MA Children’s Literature students helped to set up and run the exhibition. Over 50 visitors came to the exhibition and became fascinated about how the illustrators from different cultures and countries had decided to illustrate their stories. Reflections written, scribbled, drawn on post-it notes stuck on a large outline of a book captured some of the varied and fascinating reading experiences of visitors to the exhibition who came to browse and then stayed for hours.

Reflective snippets from exhibition visitors

A very impressive exhibition – very inspiring, which recalls my bygone days, full of fun and imagination, and cultural messages.

Really inspiring exhibition! I particularly loved the different styles and ways to tell a story without words.

A great exhibition! Interesting to see a common theme of children going on an imaginary journey with their toys.

Lovely variety of books. Lots of journeys. I intend to buy some of them for my school.

Really fantastic! It’s a good chance for me to enjoy so many great works!

Fascinating selection – so many different types of narrative.

Very reluctantly had to tear myself away from this very yummy selection! Thank you so much for this treat!

Such a great book will make the reader feel amazing!

Love this book so much! I can’t wait to start drawing now.

I want to repeat the story again and again.

Lovely book, good illustrations, captivating story, bold colours, and the sense of motion.

This book definitely shows how silent books can work on many levels and can be both for adults and children.  

It was a great experience. I love all the books. So amazing!

I realised the charm of silent books! Books in every country have their own styles. Lovely!

Do read more about IBBY Silent Book Exhibitions and how they came into being. You can access resources on reading these books in a community with different languages and a booklet using Silent Books with children.

We look forward to hosting a new exhibition of Silent Books at Goldsmiths in 2023. If you are interested in a PhD or MA Children’s Literature (3 pathways – Issues and Debates, Creative Writing; Children’s Book Illustration) contact me at Goldsmiths:

Blog by Vicky Macleroy

Our Planet Festival 2021

Critical Connections Project (2012-ongoing) 

Figure 1: Our Planet Festival Languages by Yu-Chiao Chung

In these uncertain times the theme of ‘Our Planet’ is a crucial topic for young people to engage with, research, and think about how to change their environments. In the online festival in June 2021, as well as the digital stories on the theme of ‘Our Planet’, students produced artwork and multilingual poetry to express their views.

Aims of ‘Our Planet Festival 2021’

  1. Connect children and young people with their environment, cultural heritage, and languages through taking action and telling stories on issues that matter to them (cosmopolitan citizenship).
  2. Connect children and young people with each other locally and globally.
  3. Develop children’s imagination, creativity, and multilingual repertories.
  4. Improve children’s communication skills and ability to make meaning through narrative and still/moving images and gain understanding of multimodal literacy and intertextual relationships.
  5. Gain understanding of issues and strategies in translation activities and subtitling (metalinguistic awareness).
  6. Enable creative and critical use of digital technology to transform stories.
  7. Encourage critical thinking, activist citizenship, and international partnerships.
  8. Develop children’s understanding of aesthetics and narration through creating artwork and poetry.

Our Planet Festival 2021 celebrated the multilingual lives of children and young people through their artwork, multilingual poetry, and the bi- and multi- lingual digital stories they created during the pandemic. Educators worked with young participants (6 – 17 years old) across 16 educational institutions (primary, secondary, community-based complementary, pupil referral unit, NGO), 7 countries (England, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, Germany, Taiwan, Turkey) and a range of 20 languages. The young people exhibited their striking and original artwork and poetry on the project website and their 3–5-minute films were shown at an online screening event supported by Deptford Cinema.

Online Our Planet Festival – Friday 11 June 2021

Michael Rosen opened the festival with a multilingual poetry performance including some of his latest poems from his book On the Move: Poems About Migration (2020). Michael Rosen commented on the theme of the festival.

‘We’re talking about ‘Our Planet’ so this is one of the things that we share. We share the fact that we are multilingual … one of the reasons why we are multilingual is because we migrate, we move … we don’t stay still … that’s why languages mix and change and we speak many languages’.

Project schools joined from different countries and students were thrilled to participate in a Q & A with Michael Rosen.

Children asked Michael about becoming a poet, writing poetry, his poems, his preferred language, and being an educator as well as a poet.

Artwork and multilingual poetry

Michael Rosen’s poetry performance was followed by a short online tour of the artwork and multilingual poetry children and young people created for the festival.

    Figure 2

   لما لا يسود السلام في العالم

   ‘Why not a peaceful world?’

   Sobhia Anfal Boularas

 Peace School, North London



This work can be accessed from the different schools on the project website here:

Multilingual Poetry Workshop

Michaël Vidon, spoken word educator, poet and French teacher (at Seaford Head School) led an hour’s online multilingual poetry workshop for all participants. Michaël Vidon engaged participants in thinking about words, about obstacles, about places where humans and nature are side by side fighting, about messiness, about danger and comfort. He talked about editing and when and how to move between languages in multilingual poetry and about rhyme and rhythm. Project participants experimented writing across languages.

Online screening event supported by Deptford Cinema

Figure 3: Congratulations, you have won a sheep! (Tawasol Community School, Cairo, Egypt)

There were 20 short films including 20 languages and short, pre-recorded introductions to each film. Participants watched the films together across the different countries and the screening was accessible on the Deptford Cinema @ Home platform for 6 weeks (Deptford Cinema). The films can now be accessed on Critical Connections website.

Deptford Cinema is a volunteer run, not-for-profit, community cinema in Deptford (close to Goldsmiths). Deptford Cinema volunteers, Lucy Rogers and Louis Holder, supported the online screening producing a film booklet and editing the overall screening. The Our Planet Digital Storytelling Booklet contains a listing of all the films and more detailed descriptions of the 20 films and project participants.

Our Planet Festival Booklet

The individual films can be viewed here.


The film festival was on national news in Taiwan (12 June 2021).

Figure 4: Revealing the Secrets of Joss Paper (Changsing Elementary School, Taiwan)

Children and young people shared their multilingual poetry, artwork and digital stories at local school and community events across countries in the project.

Children/young people reflected on the ‘Our Planet Festival 2021’

‘Some languages are very difficult to talk in. I knew some of the words. I wish I can read Greek and Mandarin’.

‘It was great to see children from around the world’.

‘We, the children, have to save our planet’.

‘We can all start from our homes and schools, influence a group’s opinion and hope they will influence others’.

‘I was very excited to see our film showcased. I loved watching other films’.

‘There were a variety of different films that intrigued me in many different ways, each one was unique, yet powerful’.

‘There are so many languages spoken in different countries.  I didn’t know that.  It was fascinating to see many films in different languages’.

‘People in different part of the world do different things and have their own ways of living and thought’.

Educators reflected on the ‘Our Planet Festival 2021’

‘Tainan Municipal Changsing Elementary School, Revealing the Secrets of Joss Paper. For most of us, this is a totally unknown world.  Even if one is not part of the culture, one could easily follow and understand the importance of the matter to local people, and that, after all, they are facing similar difficulties we have here, with big industries endangering local crafts’.

‘I had no idea about joss paper and I was wondering if there are any other traditions that potentially put our environment in danger. That is a topic I would like to research with children, starting from our little country, and try to find some solutions to either make the effect less damaging for the planet or completely change it with something nature-friendly’.

‘In my class, children have proved they can complete a range of tasks, technology wise, and achieve much more than what we expect of them. They were able to use a range of multimedia programmes to put a clip together, add subtitles and use other features’.

‘I am very surprised and impressed that my students can finish their films during lockdown.  I thought they would lose their motivation but the fact was that they were very engaged and responsible to work on their film.  It has proved that if they are given some tasks which mean a lot to them, they would enjoy working on them’.

Critical Connections project (2021-22)

As the Critical Connections project moves into its tenth year, we are in the process of planning next year’s festival and waiting to hear about further funding for our work in the field of multilingual learning, environmental activism and the arts. Please get in contact if you are interested in participating in future projects.

Project Directors: Dr Vicky Macleroy, Dr Yu-Chiao Chung and Dr Jim Anderson

Centre for Language, Culture and Learning, Goldsmiths, University of London

Our Planet Festival 2021 was supported by Goldsmiths Public Engagement Fund (2020-21) and Deptford Cinema.

Blog by Vicky Macleroy



Michael Rosen on ‘Working in a Variety of Ways’

I work in a variety of ways at the same time. For the Centre, my contribution is to suggest possible talks, public conversations, and conferences and act as interlocutor where appropriate.

In broadcasting, I host a BBC Radio 4 programme about the uses of language, ‘Word of Mouth’ which falls within the old Reithian precept of ‘edutainment’, trying to be informative and entertaining at the same time. It mostly appears to be a conversation but it rests on the knowledge and scholarship of its participants.

With my son, Joseph Steele Rosen, we have created a YouTube Channel, ‘Kids’ Poems and Stories with Michael Rosen’. This is made up of over 400 videos consisting of poems, stories, jokes, book reviews and interviews with authors about the writing process. It has nearly 570,000 subscribers and over 100 million views. It’s an ongoing piece of work that we add to every fortnight and has a linked Teachers’ Channel. There is a new handbook to go with the channel written by a classroom teacher, Jonny Walker.

This is in addition to the four booklets I’ve written that have arisen out of the Goldsmiths MA in Children’s Literature, on issues such as how literary theory can be used in education, how to write and read for pleasure in schools. These are a continuation of books I’ve written for teachers and school students on writing and creative education such as ‘What is Poetry?‘, ‘Good Ideas’ and ‘Book of Play’.

Prior to the pandemic, an important part of my work has been to visit schools, libraries, book festivals and literary festivals to perform my poems, take part in discussions and run poetry workshops. Since the pandemic, I’ve been carrying on with that in the more limited form of zoom calls into schools. As part of this work, I also do talks for teachers’ INSETs, and teachers’ conferences on e.g., how and why we create a reading for pleasure environment.

I work within the field of Holocaust Education arising out of my own family’s experience, and in conjunction with my books, ‘The Missing’ and ‘On the Move’ (both published by Walker Books). In particular, I’ve worked with History Works doing workshops encouraging middle school groups to respond to Holocaust and genocide testimony, poetry and song on themes of persecution, refugees and resistance.

For children, I am continuing to write poetry, stories and picture book texts.

I’ve ritten books for adults such as ‘Alphabetical‘, ‘The Disappearance of Emile Zola’ and a memoir, ‘So They Call You Pisher!‘. Most recently, I have written a book about my experiences of Covid and recovery, ‘Many Different Kinds of Love’ (Ebury), which has taken me into the field of medicine education, patient testimony and nursing training.

Blog by Michael Rosen

Representation Matters in Children’s Literature

Ella Asheri, as part of the team at the Goldsmiths’ Development and Alumni Office, brought together this inspiring online event to ask difficult questions and discuss future directions within children’s and Young Adult literature. This overarching question framed the debate: What does it mean to see yourself represented in a story? The event was positioned in this way to spark debate and provide a space to discuss diverse stories.

Goldsmiths has been home to some of the most exciting and radical voices of children’s literature. From founding initiatives to promote creative learning in Arabic, to writing stories about black gay teens reclaiming their identities through drag, Goldsmiths alumni are leading the way in challenging societal structures by creating diverse stories for children and young adults.

(Publicity for the event which was held on 31 March 2021)

The panellists, alumni Soheir Abaza, Dean Atta and Nadine Kaadan, shared their experiences as writers and illustrators advocating for change in children’s literature. As facilitator of the panel discussion, I was lucky enough to have known all the panellists as students at Goldsmiths. Their biographies illuminate the groundbreaking work of the three panellists in the field of children’s literature and education.

Soheir Abazais a writer and teacher. She is a PhD Candidate with an MA in Creative Writing and Education (Writer/Teacher) from Goldsmiths in 2014. Soheir has initiated and led a creative writing programme for Syrian refugee children in Cairo, and has worked with Alwan and Awtar, an NGO that offers artistic, cultural and non-formal learning activities to children and youth in various urban and rural community settings throughout Egypt. Soheir co-founded Hadi Badi, an initiative that aims to promote children’s and young adult literature and creative learning in Arabic worldwide. Her book in Arabic ‘I Feel Like…’ encourages children to use their imagination to describe their feelings.

Figure 1: I Feel Like …’ by Soheir Abaza

Figure 1: I Feel Like …’ by Soheir Abaza

Nadine Kaadan is an award-winning children’s book author and illustrator from Syria now living in London. She is published in several countries and languages and her mission is to champion empowered and inclusive representation in children’s books so that every child can see themselves in a story. Nadine has worked with young refugees in mitigating post-conflict trauma. Her books ‘Tomorrow’ and ‘The Jasmine Sneeze’ touch on Syria’s long and proud cultural heritage as well as the life of refugees. She has been nominated for a Kate Greenaway Medal and is the 2019 winner of the Arab British Centre Award for Culture. Nadine was selected as one of the BBC 100 Women 2020’s ‘most influential and inspiring women’ and was featured on their BBC 100 Women masterclass. She studied a Masters in Art and Politics at Goldsmiths in 2014.

Figure 2: Tomorrow by Nadine Kadaan

Figure 2: Tomorrow by Nadine Kadaan

Dean Atta is a poet and author. His debut poetry collection, ‘I Am Nobody’s Nigger’, was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize, and his debut novel, ‘The Black Flamingo’, won the Stonewall Book Award. He was named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday. Dean’s work often deals with themes of gender, identity, race and growing up – and has appeared on BBC One, BBC Radio 4, BBC World Service and Channel 4. Dean regularly performs across the UK, and internationally. He is a member of Malika’s Poetry Kitchen. Dean is based in Glasgow, and is Co-director of the Scottish BAME Writers Network and a patron of LGBT+ History Month. He studied a Writer/Teacher Masters at Goldsmiths in 2014.

Figure 3: The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

Figure 3: The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta

The panellists shared their experiences as students at Goldsmiths and how the spirit of protest and radicalism had helped shape their creative work. All three panellists talked about their experiences of working with children/young adults and sharing their writing and books with children/young adults at different stages in the process. This part of the discussion also showed how sharing their diverse children’s stories can open up spaces to imagine and put into words difficult emotions and experiences and recognise the transformative potential of children’s stories for radical hope and social change. The debate moved onto questions of identity, social justice and why representation matters and what representation looks like in practice before talking about future directions and practical steps to bring about change in children’s/YA literature.

You can access the recorded Goldsmiths Connect event here:

You can find information about the MA Children’s Literature programme at Goldsmiths which has 3 pathways:

  • MA Children’s Literature: Issues and Debates
  • MA Children’s Literature: Creative Writing Pathway
  • MA Children’s Literature: Children’s Book Illustration.

Blog by Vicky Macleroy