Monday 10 June 2019

Writing non-fiction for children? Think multiculturally. Moira Butterfield

When we write non-fiction for children we need to get facts right, and that means careful research. That’s pretty self-evident, but there’s something else we should be aware of as we work – something that novelists are well used to considering but non-fiction authors ned to consider, too. We need to make sure that our work is multicultural.

By ‘writing multiculturally’, I mean creating text that has an awareness of the whole world naturally and effortlessly within its fabric.

How would a book of facts not be multicultural? That depends on the fact choices the author has made. The thought struck me recently as I was researching science. I was looking at highly-respected internet sites. My search terms led me mainly to university sites or those of science organizations. These were sites from the UK and US. I realized I had to change my search terms, get creative with them, if I wanted to find scientific work going on in Africa or South America, for example. I needed to be aware that I didn’t get trapped in the limitations of the internet and get too parochial.

Illustrated non-fiction books make their money by having as many foreign editions as possible and so it’s best to have an internationally-popular theme, but we non-fiction authors should always make sure we do our utmost to find our facts from everywhere, exploring the world for everyone.

Home Sweet Home, published by Red Shed on June 27th

 My newest non-fiction book, out at the end of June, provides facts within a multicultural framework. It’s called Home Sweet Home, and it sets out to explore the familiar features of a home, touching on different cultures and history, too, to get everyone thinking about what it is that makes a home. I’ve tried to do it with a light touch, using my writing to encourage the opposite mindset to: ‘aren’t those foreigners odd/funny’.  Everyone from everywhere is in this book because it’s entirely normal.

I was greatly helped by illustrator Clair Rossiter. The choices she makes in her work are naturally multicultural. People of all kinds walk, talk and live their lives together in her lovely detailed scenes.

I heard a teacher discussing her work on the radio this morning. she said:“It’s a privilege to be in a position to make a difference.”  We non-fiction authors have that privilege and we should keep it in the forefront of our minds as we research and write.

Moira Butterfield is an internationally-published author of illustrated non-fiction, and many other things besides. Her new book, Home Sweet Home, is published by Egmont imprint Red Shed, and illustrated by Clair Rossiter. 

Moira Butterfield
Twitter @moiraworld
Instagram @moirabutterfieldauthor

1 comment:

Sue Purkiss said...

This looks like one for my grandchildren!