Voice and vision: the importance of diverse representation in literature for children and young people

15.35 – Wednesday 4th July

Libraries play a key role in reflecting the lives and backgrounds of the children, families and communities they serve. This session will explore what diversity is and why it is important. It will highlight challenges facing the profession and the book trade at large and will signpost support, exploring movements like ‘We Need Diverse Books’ and the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway review. Join author Juno Dawson; illustrator Nadia Shireen; publisher Nicky Potter; and Chair of CILIP’s Youth Libraries Group Jake Hope for an in-depth discussion on this topical subject.

Juno Dawson, Author

Juno Dawson is the multi award-winning author of 11 books, including the best-selling World Book Day title: Spot the Difference and her recent adult memoir, The Gender Games, which has been optioned for TV by Benedict Cumberbatch’s production company Sunny March.

Dawson is a regular contributor to Attitude, GT, Glamour and Guardian and has contributed to news items concerning sexuality, identity, literature and education on BBC Woman’s Hour, Front Row, This Morning and Newsnight. A School Role Model for Stonewall, Dawson also works with the charity First Story to visit schools serving low-income communities. Dawson grew up in West Yorkshire, writing imaginary episodes of Doctor Who. She later turned her talent to journalism, writing a weekly serial in a Brighton newspaper. In 2015, Dawson announced her transition to become a woman. She writes full time and lives in Brighton.

Photo credit: Eivind Hansen

Nicky Potter, Publicist, Otter-Barry Books

Nicky Potter is a publicist specialising in children’s literature and social inclusion.  A trustee of the English Association and a Philippa Pearce Lecture committee member, she served on a steering group set up by Arts Council England to promote diversity in children’s books and worked for the office of the Children’s Laureate with Jacqueline Wilson and Michael Rosen. She currently works with Seven Stories, The National Centre for Children’s Books, The Children’s Bookshow and The School Library Association, in addition to her publishing work. She has enjoyed working with Janetta Otter-Barry since 1989, helping to build Frances Lincoln Children’s Books and then Otter-Barry Books.

Nadia Shireen, Author and illustrator

Nadia Shireen has been making award-winning picture books since 2010. Her titles include Good Little Wolf, The Bumblebear (which was distributed over 700,000 children as part of Booktrust’s Time To Read campaign), The Cow Who Fell To Earth and Billy and the Beast. She is currently Booktrust’s Writer in Residence.


Chair: Jake Hope, Chair of Youth Libraries Group

Jake Hope is a reading development and children’s book consultant. He was named one of only ten top librarians of the future and has worked as the reading development manager for one of the largest library authorities in the United Kingdom. Jake is a regular reviewer and commentator on all aspects of children’s literature and has chaired numerous discussions and selection meetings. He has an active interest in diversity in children’s books, has lectured on topics from psychoanalytic approaches to children’s literature to approaches and roles for visual literacy. Jake has judged most major children’s book awards in the UK, is a passionate advocate for reading and is delighted to be, and cannot quite believe he is Chair of the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway judging panels.