Congratulations to Malorie Blackman who was crowned Children’s Laureate for 2013-2015 this week. Blackman, who is known for her hugely successful Noughts and Crosses series and the groundbreaking Pig Heart Boy which was adapted into a BAFTA award-winning BBC series, is the first black woman to be awarded the honour. Blackman was spurred to write when she noticed the absence of black characters in the fairytales and novels she enjoyed reading as a child, “I was aware that I was not in the books I was reading. I still remember feeling I was totally invisible in the world of literature”. Blackman definitely isn’t invisible now, having published over sixty books and has even been immortalised in the music world by Tinie Tempah who in Written in the Stars raps, “Look I’m just a writer from the ghetto like Malorie Blackman”.
Since her appointment as the eighth Children’s Laureate, Blackman has already taken on Education Secretary, Michael Gove, whose proposed new history curriculum would have a more national emphasis at the expense of multiculturalism, “I do feel it’s very dangerous if you make it seem like history is the province of a certain segment of society. History should belong to and include all of us. The curriculum needs to appeal to as many children as possible or a number of them could become disenchanted with education because it’s not relevant”. In January HopeRoad ran a feature on Blackman’s and other eminent authors’ stand, against Gove’s bid to remove Mary Seacole from the national curriculum.
Blackman has long been a champion of diversity in literature and it seems she is not planning to back down now that she has received one of literature’s most prestigious accolades, “We need more books that are specifically about the BME British experience, and that’s why I bang the drum for getting rid of the idea that if a book contains pictures of a black or Asian child, it’s going to have a limited audience”.
In Written in the Stars Tinie raps that those marginalised in society need to “just keep screaming until they hear you out”, but it seems that Blackman realised that the pen is mightier than the voice and wrote until she was heard.
HopeRoad’s Mary Seacole by Ron Ramdin can be bought here.