Today being awarded the ‘Lifetime Social Justice Literature Award’ for my body of work in social justice by the International Literacy Association is deeply felt. My acceptance speech is at the heart of my writing:-
– ‘My family were refugees who survived war and communism. They were targets, bullied, not registering as human. We know about the Cambodian Killing Fields, Armenian genocide, Syrian massacres, the Holocaust. But we can’t fully comprehend these huge atrocities. We see, are horrified, but what can we do? Young people feel powerless. These stories of victimisation are too big, make us turn away, as we go about our lives.
I write so that young people have a safe place to be. Inside my stories, there are friends, humour, love and ways forward to navigate a world which is overwhelming.
I write small stories of ordinary lives, but they are big stories – bullying, disability, racism, cancer, peace – because kids feel everything, but they get lost and afraid. I write small stories of ordinary lives, so that kids celebrate each day and are empowered to create a safer world.
A teacher wrote to me that my books ‘are watching over our kids’. She gave me a gift.
You are giving me a gift today too. This is a deeply moving award that validates my life as a writer. I accept it for my parents, for me and for those who find a safe haven within my books.’
Thankyou for this journey.