Childhood is shrouded in so much of our own nostalgia. I get a jolt in the opening bit of Star Wars, when the introductory words go up the screen. I feel it when I smell Charlie by Revlon, my Mum’s favourite perfume and there’s loads of it floating round at Christmas, when the fairy lights are twinkling and Mr Bean is on the TV.
But we forget, nostalgia isn’t a universal feeling. Not everyone feels it about the same things. Maybe the internet has ruined us with too many of the, ‘you know you’re a child of the eighties if…” quizzes, making it feel like our nostalgia is normal.
What makes us normal?
Every childhood is normal and every childhood will have things that were just the fabric of the everyday, some of the stuff that makes us who we are. Maybe it’s certain cooking smells, maybe it’s the headscarves drying on the washing line, or the language our grandparents speak or the familiarity of going on holiday to where our relatives live. It might be being part of a blended family, having two bedrooms in different parts of town or having two Mums or being brought up in care or by Grandparents.
Somewhere along the line, in book land, white boys living with a Mum and a Dad with maybe one or two siblings, became shorthand for normal.
We need diverse books
Of course this has a lot to do with publishing decision makers. But we don’t have to keep accepting it. It’s 2019 now and we don’t need stories to be like this anymore. Children are cleverer than we give them credit for, understand the world better than we expect them to and can handle difference with more kindness and compassion than we could ever imagine.
Diversity in upbringing is what results in innovation, in fascinating insight and comment and lots and lots of stories. We want everybody’s stories to be told. We want to hear everybody’s stories because that’s what we’re about. Exciting, entrancing, engaging stories with beautiful illustrations.
This story isn’t engaging or entrancing but just in case you think I might be secretly extra specially ‘normal’…
My ‘normal’ childhood
I grew up in a household where it was normal for my Mam and Dad to pick up dead birds from the side of the road and pop them in the freezer for their friend, the local forest ranger, who would stuff them for his taxidermy collection. One year my mam defrosted a collection of sparrows thinking it was a lasagne.
Yours in normality…