Every school to receive Welsh and English language books for kids celebrating joy of same-sex families
The publishing arm of a Welsh university has released a new Welsh and English language range of children’s books on the subject of same-sex families.
Every primary school in Wales will receive one book free, as part of a partnership between publishers Peniarth, Stonewall Cymru and the Welsh Government.
‘Early One Morning’ and ‘Bedtime Not Playtime!’ are translations by Elin Haf and Mari Siôn of books by the Spanish author Lawrence Schimel and Elīna Brasliņa from Latvia.
These books were originally written by Lawrence Schimel in response to an increasing demand to expand the book market so as to include stories that contain families of LGBT+ backgrounds.
Peniarth, which has released the books at the Urdd Eisteddfod this week, was established in 2009 as the University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s publishing wing.
Lawrence Schimel said: “There are other children’s books that portray LGBT lives, but these usually relate to being different or overcoming homophobia.
“Elīna and I felt that there was a need for more books that celebrate the joy of being gay, and contain jolly stories of life in single-sex families.”
The books have since been printed in over 30 countries and languages including, now, Wales and in Welsh and English.
Elin mentioned: “Having chatted with Lawrence, I was hankering to create English and Welsh versions of his books. I liked the simplicity of the story and how familiar the stories would be, be they domestic, humdrum or everyday stories.
“As a parent in a civil partnership, whose youngest of three children is 18 years old, I can state that there was certainly nothing like this in Welsh when my children were small.”
The Welsh and English versions are the first to use ‘Mam’ and ‘Mami’/ ‘Dad’ and ‘Dadi’, and by now, other languages have also adopted these terms.
Elin and Mari’s wish is to see these books, as they get published, reaching the schools of Wales, seeing the characters spring to life, and teachers and children enjoying them.
Dr Lowri Lloyd, from Canolfan Peniarth said: “It is truly a privilege to publish these books for the youngest of children in both English and Welsh. They are simple, good-humoured and interesting books that contain same-sex parents as a natural part of the story.
“Our hope is that parents, schools and anyone involved with small children will use them to give children of all backgrounds access to stories that reflect the diversity of our present society. Being able to distribute one copy free of charge to every primary school in Wales is certainly a significant step towards making this a reality.”
Iestyn Wyn from Stonewall Cymru added:” Ensuring that LGBTQ+ families are represented in our literature and culture is vital, particularly in children and young people’s literature and Welsh literature.
“Only by reflecting on contemporary Wales in our literature, we can take steps forward to undo the decades of under-representation that LGBTQ+ people have experienced. We are therefore very excited to be able to work with Penarth to distribute a free copy to all schools of these special books.”
Hannah Blythyn MS, Deputy Minister for Social Partnerships said: “It is fantastic that classrooms in Wales will have access to bilingual and inclusive literature which reflects the diversity of Wales. This aligns with our commitment in the LGBTQ+ Action Plan to promote resources to help families and teachers across the country”
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