Feedback and quotes from participants in the What about me? event at Imagine Festival

The Inclusive Minds track at Imagine was a brilliant day. I've done a lot of literary festivals and workshops over the years, and I've never seen so much thrilling enthusiasm. Allowing kids to put themselves front and centre seemed to work perfectly. May there be many more!

Louie Stowell, artist

'What About Me?' was such a bright and refreshing event. Superbly child-friendly, genuinely inclusive and starring a cast of exciting illustrators and authors. The canvas on which children could freely draw was inspired and a beautiful celebration of the event's aim: allowing all children to see themselves in stories. Surely there's no better way to encourage a love of books and reading amongst all children. Our only 'complaint' would be that for inclusive events to be truly truly inclusive, they should take place centre stage!
Let's get it into the foyer next year! 

The Letterbox Library team

Just wanted to say what an absolutely terrific day that was on Friday and how phenomenal I thought you both were - the thought of arranging and entertaining and educating such massive numbers of people makes my head spin.

Sarah Garland, artist

A huge thanks to all of you for asking me to be involved  in what was a marvelous event - rammed with children and adults. To me it spelt out 'SUCCESS'! It was thoughtful, surprising, and enlightening: as a 'helpful Artist', my role ranged from drawing alongside a 3 year old autistic child to being interviewed at length by a tenacious 6th former - who was in the process of writing her own book about being brought up in a same sex family - which she fully intended to publish!  The next 'inclusive' generation in the making. Congratulations! 

Carol Thompson, artist

Thank you so much for inviting me to 'What about me?'. It was a brilliant and unique event - I've never been to any event which managed to bring together children, parents, authors, illustrators, educators, distributors and publishers! I hope there will be more events like it. The work you are doing is really important.

Vanda Carter, artist

I hope that you and Beth are both purring with satisfaction at how very many happy children you created yesterday .... and happy authors and artists too.  What fun, and important too. 

Pippa Goodhart, artist

We were honoured and delighted that you asked Life & Deaf to be involved in the fabulous Inclusive Minds event held in London’s Southbank Centre during the Imagine Festival.  The Inclusive Minds event sought to promote inclusion and accessibility for all. It was such a vibrant and meaningful event, bringing together authors, illustrators, families and most importantly children to explore a vision of literature where all children are seen and heard. The event had a serious message that was beautifully wrapped in a fun-filled, creative and inspiring day filled with activities for children of all ages, families and professionals.  As Mayuri, a young deaf Londoner says ‘Change is in the air' and change can make us ‘feel alive’. Thank you for including us in your exciting and important event that is sure to lead this essential change.  Kind wishes and thanks to you and your colleagues and collaborators.

Life and Deaf organisation

The event was marvellous, well done to Beth and yourself for hosting a great event, it had a massive turnout. It was enjoyable and informative; I was learning on the job! Hope there are many more Inclusive Minds events to come in the future.

Lee Marshall, BSL interpreter

I wanted to share with you something really positive that I took from Friday. I am not a bookie and so I was perhaps not expecting such a return in my day out with my girls!!  I am a fair few years older than Carmen and that together with us being gay parents and with all the baggage that I carry from my generation means that I often feel judged and challenged in big social situations like Friday. I can feel judged by people looking for a label – am I Mollie's grandma or Aunty. Am I Carmen's partner or parent. It's judgement that I often find uncomfortable and look to avoid. It's debilitating and something I work hard to try and overcome on a daily basis! I had the luxury of spending 2 days on a Stonewall leadership course a couple of years ago which massively increased my awareness of my own barriers and has helped me articulate all of this.  Anyway, Friday was a joy. I felt liberated, totally un-judged (I know that's not a word!!) and that feeling is why it is so very important to me that you and Carmen and all your allies keep going with your work because Mollie must not feel those judgements or those barriers.  It was a fantastic day, you should be very proud and thank you for letting us all share!

Kerry, parent

Had the BEST day today. Thanks so much, you guys did a wonderful thing.

Kristen, The Curved House Kids team

I thought yesterday was an absolute triumph. Well done.

Children’s book publicist

What About Me? was great fun as well as being really important. Children’s books should represent all children, just as the pleasure they give should be for all children. It’s a brilliant addition to the Imagine festival and we hope it goes from strength to strength. 

Every kid I saw seemed to be having a good time. I don’t think I even heard any tantrums except some minor ones over crayons. That’s pretty impressive. We met some kids who really grasped the idea of braille, and seemed genuinely fascinated that this was how some people learned to read. It was a real eye-opener for some parents/carers too. One boy left intending to learn the whole alphabet (he’d already grasped most of it before he left- and was helping other children braille their names- we largely handed that over to him for about 20 minutes!) and a parent has asked for information and a loan of books to teach her class about braille and VI next term.

Alex Britton, Director, ClearVision Project

There needs to be more space to explore diversity (in all its forms) in children’s books, because very few people have just one identity.

Zara Todd, panel member/chair

Taking part in the event was really uplifting and rewarding. As well as realizing what a lot of work there is to do, it was also reassuring to meet so many really interesting and thoughtful people working towards common goals.  I hope you get the opportunity to organize many more events around this theme. It will certainly help to spread the word.

Sue Baker, publisher

What an amazing event! I think it balanced well, the info for adults as well as creativity for the children. – Every adult I spoke to ‘got’ the message and loved the thinking behind each activity. Yes it was busy, but that’s a good thing, as people who did drop by stayed and got involved. You can never predict how many people will turn up when you don’t have the booking system, but its better to be open as a couple mums said they don’t like the ones you have to book as they prefer to be more flexible with their time and that those events gets booked up so fast so it was nice for them to have us to come along to.

A helper