A series of new children’s books that contain same-sex families as characters will be given free of charge to primary schools in Wales. They are being published by Peniarth – part of University of Wales Trinity Saint David – which was established in 2009 as the university’s publishing wing.
It has since become one of the main publishers of Welsh and bilingual books and educational resources in Wales. To get the latest WalesOnline newsletters e-mailed to you directly for free, click here.
Two books, called ‘Early One Morning’ and ‘Bedtime Not Playtime!’ have been translated by Elin Haf and Mari Siôn, having been written originally by Spanish author Lawrence Schimel and Elīna Brasliņa from Latvia. They were written in response to what the author said was an increasing demand for books to include more stories that contain LGBT+ families.
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The Welsh and English versions are the first to use ‘Mam and Mami’ and ‘Dad and Dadi’, and by now, other languages have also adopted these terms. The books have since been printed in over 30 countries, now including Wales, and in both Welsh and English.
Elin Haf said: “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.”
Eleri and Mari’s wish was to see the books reach schools in Wales, and this week Peniarth has announced a scheme in partnership with Stonewall Cymru, through Welsh Government sponsorship, to ensure that one book will be given to all primary schools in Wales for free.
The original author believes the books are different to others which contain gay characters. He said: “There are other children’s books that portray LGBT lives, but these usually relate to being different or overcoming homophobia,” said Lawrence Schimel. “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.”
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 can we 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, the Welsh Government’s 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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