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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)

Why and how should we encourage young people to research their local parks and green spaces?

Our parks have a problem with young people. While our parks cater for children aged 0-8 years with playgrounds, they too frequently make older children feel unwelcome and unwanted, particularly young people from poorer backgrounds. This is because young people struggle to find their own spaces and activities in them, and often feel they are unfairly blamed for things like anti-social behaviour (Aalst & Brands: 2021: Brown 2013). The privatisation of park spaces has led to them feeling victimised by various authorities (such as security guards, park wardens and the police) and excluded from parks, even though parks are one of the few places they can come together in groups. While small minorities, such as skateboarders, might be provided for in terms of activities, the majority of young people have few activities open to them, and little power to say what they want from their parks (Brown 2013).

So what can be done?

The research we are doing at Goldsmiths intends to change this situation. It’s called the Parklife Project and it’s headed by myself, but involves many different academics, students, school pupils and people connected to parks, both professional and ‘amateur’.

The aim of the research is to make young people feel like they can engage properly with their parks, and use parks to foster their own wellbeing and environmental awareness as well as other park users. Fortunately, this March 2022, we were delighted to receive some seed funding from Goldsmiths’ Strategic Research Fund to carry out a pilot for what we hope could be a much bigger project. So far the results have been wonderful.

Connecting up with the British Academy and Students Organising for Sustainability UK (SOS-UK), we brought together a number of undergraduates and masters’ students from Goldsmiths, and helped them work with some pupils at a secondary school near to the university. The Parklife project seeks to see if more creative approaches to research can be successful, so as part of the research process, 11-14 year old pupils worked the Goldsmiths’ students to write poems, to draw pictures, to photograph and film their local park. They then reflected upon this work, and took the research process further by questioning school pupils, park users of all sorts, local businesses ecological experts and professionals connected with parks, such as park managers and people who organise the contracts for parks. Using this research, they have drawn up action points for improving their local park, and will be addressing policy makers, local politicians, representatives from park user groups, the police and park managers about what they think should be done. The aim is for young people to learn how to research their parks and promote meaningful ecological, social and psychological change in park users.

You can watch a video which explains how the Goldsmiths’ students went about conducting the research here:

You can also read a Goldsmiths’ student’s blog about the project here.


Aalst, I-van & Brands, J. (2021) Young people: being apart, together in an urban park, Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability, 14:1, 1-17, DOI: 10.1080/17549175.2020.1737181

Brown, D.M. (February 2013) Young People, Anti-social Behaviour and Public Space: The Role of Community Wardens in Policing the ‘ASBO Generation’ Author(s): Urban Studies Vol. 50, No. 3, Special Issue: Young People’s Im/Mobile Urban Geographies (FEBRUARY 2013), pp. 538-555

Blog by Francis Gilbert