I’m an inclusion and equality consultant for children’s books, which basically means that I help publishers understand basic principles of inclusion to help ensure their books naturally reflect a diverse range of people so that children can see that there are many ways of being and they don’t have to be a certain way to fit in.
Having originally trained as a primary school teacher, how did you get into writing and editing books?
I’d always loved books as a child and had even made a few of my own. When I realised that teaching wasn’t the right fit for me, children’s books seemed a logical alternative for my career! I sent a letter to every children’s publisher I could find, and was lucky to get two interviews and a job offer. My passion for inclusion was ignited while I was at school, and when I worked at Child’s Play I was lucky to be able to expand on this. I’ve always said that I’m an editor rather than a writer – I like to take something and help shape it to be the best it can be (and this is the same with my work in inclusion). However, I struggled more with creative writing.
What made you want to write books like the LEVEL HEADERS series?
When b small approached me with the idea of the books, I was initially a bit apprehensive about how I’d write them. However, I’d recently started my own personal development journey and had learned strategies that I know would have helped me as a child. It felt important to create books that would give children these tools from a young age to support their mental well-being
I realised that writing non-fiction is a lot like editing. I wasn’t necessarily creating something new, but taking established knowledge, and tried and tested tools that Natalie Costa uses in her coaching for children and simplifying them and making them work in book and activity format. Having been worried, I ended up really loving the process of creating the books and figuring out how some very practical activities could work on the page.
Can you tell us a little about your latest book, LOVE BEING YOU?
LOVE BEING YOU! was probably the hardest of all the books to write, but holds a special place in my heart. It is about supporting children to realise that everyone is unique and that it’s safe to be and express exactly who they are, that each individual has an important role to play in the world, big or small, that we all face challenges, and those make us who we are too. As someone who struggled to ‘fit in’ as a child, pre-teen and teen, and to accept myself and all my perfect imperfections, I wish I known what’s in this book when I was a child. That fitting in isn’t the aim of life.
Small things can make a big difference. The activities in the books are wonderful for boosting confidence, but if child isn’t in a place where they are ready to or want to read them, read through the activities yourself and think about how you can drip feed the ideas or tools into your daily life, through conversations or rituals. Simple things I do with my 6-year-old are talking about what we’re thankful for that day at bedtime, chatting about how we are all miracles, saying things like ‘you must be so proud of yourself’ rather than ‘I’m so proud of you.’, and reminding him of times he persevered, and it paid off.LOVE BEING YOU! Is available now. Get your copy via the link below!