DIVERSITY, REPRESENTATION, INCLUSION, NORM CRITIQUE THE DRIN (INSIDE) PROJECT
Children’s books shape our view of the world and of ourselves in the long term. It is important for everyone to see themselves reflected in stories, illustrations, and narratives, and to learn about how diverse people and their lives are. Children’s literature in Germany and (Northern) European countries today does not reflect our plural societies – e.g. 40% of children starting school in Germany have a personal or family story of migration.
The project DRIN – Visions for Children’s Books brings together international authors, illustrators, librarians, and publishers to share knowledge and build networks of empowerment. It sets new standards for more diverse children’s literature in Europe and involves young (and multilingual) readers. DRIN addresses the issue of equal participation, highlights the gaps in representation in children’s literature, and encourages diverse authors and illustrators to shape the book market and create new materials for children and young people. It also raises awareness among publishers, libraries, institutions that promote reading, and educational authorities.
DRIN has since the end of 2018 successfully reached out to creatives, decision-makers, and readers. The results of the 2021 publication In Our Own Words: BIPOC Perspectives in Children’s Literature will be used in seminars and events organised by partners and festivals. This network of BIPOC creatives will be expanded and strengthened through ongoing knowledge exchange. The aim is to apply diversity criteria in children’s literature production and showcase the creatives behind the books. We include a wide range of young readers, support anti-discrimination education, and promote reading. Research findings about critiquing norms are transferred into practice.
DRIN organizes international seminars, webinars, book clubs, and workshops with its partner network. One key aim is to address the questions of view, representation, and ownership of illustrations in children’s books, both in professional circles and in public debate. The DRIN website is constantly being updated with materials, background articles, and workshop documentation in English, German, and Finnish.
The project is co-created by three experts, the Finnish illustrator Warda Ahmed, and the illustrator EL BOUM and author Chantal-Fleur Sandjon, both from Germany. This ensures a multi-perspective approach to decision-making processes.
The focus of the project lies on representation regarding children of colour – always with an intersectional approach. With the term “intersectional” we mean the way in which different types of discrimination (i.e. unfair treatment because of racism, sexism, classism, ableism etc.) are linked to and affect each other. As the Black, lesbian poet and activist Audre Lorde put it: “There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.”