Research


“Books are mirrors in which children can see themselves. When they are represented in the literature we read, they can see themselves as valuable and worthy of notice”
— The World of Difference Institute

Despite families taking all forms, Australian picture book families remain overwhelmingly traditional: specifically white, middle class, with both biological parents, a (frequently blonde) male protagonist, and characters conforming to traditional gender roles. This is an issue with far-reaching consequences. Studies show that children’s ability to “see” themselves in books is vital to their sense of worth and value, as well as their education and social-emotional development.

In order to address this issue, I am completing a creative writing & visual arts PhD on the importance of family diversity in Australian picture books. As someone from a diverse family (foster and non-biological), this is a topic very close to my heart. For the creative component of my PhD I am writing and illustrating a family diverse picture book. My picture book family is largely inspired by my own family – both my biological family growing up and my non-bio family now.


Presentations

Upcoming – July 2022
Assembling Common Worlds, Vancouver Island University

July 2021
Webinar presentation for the Australian School Library Association (ASLA)
Presentation: Why representation matters
(You can view the webpage here.)

May 2021
Let’s Talk about Sex in YA conference, University of Cambridge (online)
Presentation: When Harry met James – sex and the disparate yet parallel worlds of Harry Potter and CHERUB

September 2019
Speaking engagement at the National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature (NCACL)
Presentation: Why representation matters – the importance of family diversity in Australian picture books

August 2019
Silence and Silencing in Children’s Literature, IRSCL Congress, 2019
Presentation: The silencing of family diversity in picture books

March 2019
Radical Young People’s Literature and Culture, ISSCL conference, 2019
Presentation: What makes a family? The radical portrayal of diverse families in picture books

November 2018
Peripheral Visions, 23rd annual AAWP conference, 2018
Presentation: Out of sight – the censoring of family diversity in picture books
(You can view my abstract for the conference on page 101 here.)

September 2018
Top 10 finalist – 2018 Asia-Pacific final, Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition
Presentation: The importance of family diversity in Australian picture books
(You can view the video here.)

August 2015
A Sense of Wonder, children’s literature symposium, Otago University, 2015
Presentation: Foster Care and the Representation of Trauma in Children’s Literature


Awards

Sep 2018 – Top 10 finalist 3MT (Asia-Pacific final)

Sep 2018 – Winner 3MT & People’s Choice Award (Victoria University finals)

Aug 2018 – Winner 3MT & People’s Choice Award (Victoria University heats)

Aug 2018 – Runner up Visualise your Thesis & People’s Choice Award (Victoria University)


World of Difference Institute cited in Mankiw & Strasser 2013, p. 85

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