Seminar Off the page

Three children in a ring reading. Illustration: Warda Ahmed

TUE 30.11.2021, 9 am to 5 pm CET

Online Literaturhaus Berlin

Fostering diversity in children’s book publishing

Children’s books shape the world view we grow up with. It is important for children to be able to recognize themselves in stories, illustrations, and narratives and, at the same time, to learn about the different realities of life around them. Does children’s literature in Germany, Finland and other (Northern) European countries today reflect the diverse societies in which we live, or does it make a growing proportion of its young population invisible?

Since equal participation is a key question facing Europe’s increasingly diverse societies, the DRIN project addresses the need to empower and enable everyone to participate in our societies. How can alternative, under-represented narratives, voices and images be introduced? What good examples can we share? And what can the various players in this field – authors, illustrators, publishers, libraries, and readers – learn from each other?

This one-day seminar brings together the learnings and networks that have been created in the DRIN project since 2018. It will take a look at the structures behind the book by giving the word to actors of the different phases: from education to writing and illustrating, from publishing to using the book in libraries and schools. The aim of this day is to discuss and bring forward the diversification of structures and actors of the children's book market. 

At the beginning of the seminar, we launch the publication In Our Own Words: BIPOC Perspectives in Children's Literature that was created as part of the DRIN project and which focuses on the importance of bringing more diversity not only to the stories but to the structures of the book industry as well.

The seminar is hosted by Patricia Redzewsky.

Programme (All Times in CET)

Direct link to stream (9 to12 am)

9.00-9.10 Welcome by the Goethe-Institut Finnland and its partners

9.10-9.40 Launch of the publication In Our Own Words: BIPOC Perspectives in Children's Literature by Chantal-Fleur Sandjon, Jasmina El Bouamraoui and Warda Ahmed that focuses on the importance of bringing more diversity not only to the stories but to the structures of the book industry as well. 

9.45-10.05 Ayse Koca (Norsk Barnbokinstitutt, Norway): How can recruitment make a difference in diversity literature?
Ayse Koca is an author, former teacher, and journalist, and today an employee at The Norwegian Institute for Children´s Books. Her multicultural identity is a result of growing up in Norway with immigrant parents from Turkey.
10.05-10.25 Leyla Bautista (Denmark): Challenging the dominant discourse as creative professionals of the global majority- acknowledging the emotional labour 
Leyla Bautista is a freelance illustrator, museum educator at Thorvaldsen's Museum and Nikolaj Kunsthal, speaker and facilitator. She holds a master's degree in Cross-Cultural Studies from the University of Copenhagen where she explored the use of ethnic stereotypes in Danish children's literature. Her illustrations are found in magazines, in homes, as animations, and in books, sometimes accompanied by poetry. 

10.25-10.45 Ayşe Bosse (Germany): Feeling and writing
Ayşe Bosse grew up in a Turkish-German family and lives today in Hamburg. She works as an author, actor and grief counselor. Her first children's book has won several prizes and was nominated for the German Youth Literature Prize. 

Coffee break

11.00-11.20 Chafina Bendahman (Netherlands): Every Story Matters
Chafina Bendahman is creator, producer and entrepreneur. In 2014, she founded her own storytelling company ROSE stories that successfully collects, produces and publishes stories from an untold perspective. 

11.20-11.40 Nadia Mansour (University of Aarhus, Denmark): Negotiating identities and cultures while reading Multicultural Literature
Nadia Mansour holds a Ph.D from Department of Education at Aarhus University. Her research focuses on multicultural literature in a Danish context, and how these books can be used in the Danish public school to develop student’s competences and include minority voices in school.

11.40-12.00 Discussion and questions

12-13.30 Lunch break 

13.30-15.00 Workshops (not online)
1) Workshop on decolonial perspectives and practices, conducted by Olenka Bordo Benavides (sociologist and pedagogue/ RAA Berlin)
The workshop is in German, interpretation into English can be provided.

2) mehr_blick: where are our stories? Impulses for critical readings and choosing books, conducted by (tâm* tran & Tamo* Stern of the project mehr_blick, Germany)
Then workshop is in German and English.

Direct link to the stream (3-5 pm): 

15.00-15.30 Presentation of the workshop-results

Coffee break

16.00-16.45 Prof. Dr. Maisha-Maureen Auma (Childhood and Difference (Diversity Studies), University for Applied Sciences, Magdeburg- Stendal): Windows and Mirrors for hyperdiverse realities. Anti/De/Postcolonial Perspectives and Children's Literature
Prof. Dr. Maureen Maisha Auma is Professor for Childhood and Difference (Diversity Studies) at the University for Applied Sciences, Magdeburg- Stendal, since April 2008. She was a Visiting Professor at the Centre for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies and the Institute of Education at the Humboldt University Berlin from 2014 to 2019. She is currently a Visiting Professor at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies of the Technical University Berlin (2020/2021). Her research focuses on: diversity, inequality, and plurality in textbooks and didactical materials in East and West Germany, intersectional sexual education as empowerment for Black communities and communities of color, critical whiteness, intersectionality, decoloniality, and critical race theory. 


If you want to participate in the seminar live at the Literaturhaus Berlin, please send an e-mail to until 24.11.2021. Please let us also know in which of the two workshops you would like to participate.
There is a limited amount of places. According to the updated rules in Berlin since 15.11., we follow the 2G-plus-rule, i.e. you need to present a proof of full vaccination or recovery of Covid-19 before entering the event at the Literaturhaus. Wearing a mask during the event is also required.


You can also take part via stream on the Youtube-channel of the Goethe-Institut Finnland

PARTNERS of the Seminar

Deutsche Akademie für Kinder- und Jugendliteratur 
Sankt Michaelsbund 
Finnland-Institut in Deutschland
Norsk barnebokinstitutt - The Norwegian Institut for Children's Books

The seminar is part of the project DRIN - Visions for Children's Books. The project is being supported by Allianz Kulturstiftung.
The publication In Our Own Words: BIPOC Perspectives in Children's Literature is being supported by Aue-Stiftung.