10 inclusive children’s book laws from Anna McQuinn


As the new government has been slow to enact David Kendall’s proposed law changes, we’ve approached further sensible folks in the book world to ask what 10 laws they would pass if they were suddenly put in charge of absolutely everything.

For the second installment in the series we spoke to Anna McQuinn, of marvellous and inclusive independent publisher Alanna Books. We asked Anna how the law would change if she were in charge of the world.

Anna McQuinn’s Laws:

1. It would be a criminal offence to take a 32-page picture book and make a board book out of it without modifying it in any way, then present it as if it was within the reach of babies aged 6 months and up.

2. It would be illegal to have the concepts ‘rectangle’, ‘square’, ‘circle’, ‘triangle’ and any additional makey-uppy shapes in a board book (children who have three words:  ‘Dada’  ‘Mama’ and ‘juice’ can not be expected to say ‘rectangle’ let alone understand the concept).

3. Board books teaching colours, counting and alphabets would also be illegal (though a less serious offence ”“ similar to possession with intent to supply class B drugs).

4. Anyone heard using the phrase ‘you’re too old for picture books’ would be forced to read War and Peace and other long books and not allowed to read magazines, cookbooks, craft books, art books, gardening books (in fact any book with images), to watch movies or TV or to visit an art gallery for 12 months. Anyone denying visual pleasure and literacy to others should be denied it themselves.

5. All children would have a right to see themselves and their experiences reflected in the books they read, as well as having books which open up new worlds, real and imaginary (the mirrors, windows and doors as coined by Rudine Sims Bishop, Professor Emerita of Education at Ohio State University). It would therefore follow that”¦

6. Every collection of books (whether in a bookshop, library, school or playgroup) would include as wide a range of characters, settings and plots as imaginably possible.

7. Anyone saying they would like to have a more inclusive collection, but the books are just not there, will be chained to a computer with internet connection and a list of excellent book sites and not released until they’ve sourced 50 brilliant inclusive books.

7., Sub-clause B: These books shall NOT be limited to folktales, books set in foreign/exotic places, books set in the past, and books about civil rights;

7., Sub-clause C: These books shall not be limited to stories where the character has to triumph over racism/homophobia/prejudice.

8. Anyone saying they don’t need inclusive books because their [delete as appropriate] library/shop/school doesn’t have children ‘like that’, will be invited to remove any other book featuring something they don’t have locally ”“ so into the skip go any books with bears, tigers, elephants, penguins, camels, tarantulas, dinosaurs, mammoths, volcanos, monsters, gremlins, hobbits (and, for Scottish readers, sunshine, tee hee!)

9. All storybooks will be shelved in alphabetical order. Books whose main character has a disability/is from a minority group/is gay or transgender will NOT be in a special section or on a special shelf with ‘other issue books’ (like books dealing with racism, the collapse of the rainforest or divorce). If I need to explain why, stay back and see me after school.

Pulpits and Anna McQuinn go rather well together.

Pulpits and Anna McQuinn go rather well together.

10. If these laws were followed, it would come to pass that all children would be enriched by books and we would witness their transformative power. Children would be affirmed by seeing themselves in stories and their own experiences explored by writers. Their imaginations would be fired by reading about people and situations which are far removed from their own experiences and their understanding and sympathy for others ”“ those similar and different ”“ would be nurtured by insights and understanding.

And I believe the world would be a happier, more peaceful place.

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