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Industry Insider – The Big Issues in Children’s Literature

14 June @ 19:00 - 20:30 BST

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Amid escalating crises in society and the world at large, literature has become a place for difficult issues, through which we seek solutions and discover a coping mechanism as adults. But can literature also do this for children?

Children’s writer Isabel Thomas will chair this discussion with writer and public speaker Stuart Lawrence, writer and teacher Darren Chetty and children’s writer A M Dassu, as they explore the need for children’s literature to engage with uncomfortable topics, in ways that protect them and prepare them for living in the world.

And how can writers engage children with difficult issues in a way that is safe and supportive? And when is the right time?

This event is presented by the SoA’s Children’s Writers and Illustrators Group.




  • Welcome, housekeeping and introductions by Isabel Thomas (5 mins)

  • Panel discussion with Stuart Lawrence, Darren Chetty and A M Dassu (30 mins)

  • Questions from the audience (20 mins)

  • Summary and closing comments from Isabel Thomas (5 mins)



What will this session cover? 

  • How can authors/parents broach difficult subjects with their children?
  • How can writers deploy these messages in their own work? How did the panel approach the subjects in their own work?
  • Why is it important to address difficult subjects in children’s literature?
  • What are some of great books tackling difficult subjects for children?


Who is this session for? 

This session is aimed at writers of children’s literature, parents, teachers, or anyone with a love of literature or an interest in children’s wellbeing.


Send us your questions in advance 

If you would like to send questions in advance, email tmcdonald@societyofauthors.org with ‘The Big Issues’ in the subject header. We will prioritise questions sent in advance and will answer as many as we can from the audience on the day.


SoA @ Home fundraising bookshop

Browse our virtual Bookshop.org store, featuring books by authors and speakers taking part in the SoA @ Home Festival. When you make a purchase using our affiliate links a percentage will go to the Authors’ Contingency Fund, providing hardship grants to authors in financial difficulty.


The line-up 


Isabel Thomas – Children’s Science Writer

Isabel Thomas is a science writer and the author of more than 200 books for young audiences. They include Moth: An Evolution Story, winner of the AAAS/Subaru Prize for Excellence in Science Books, and Fox: A Circle of Life Story, which the Guardian described as ‘the perfect book for talking to children about death’. She also writes for science magazines including The Week Junior Science + Nature and works with organizations such as the Wellcome Sanger Institute, BBC Bitesize and Alzheimer’s Research UK to translate complex and sensitive scientific ideas into outreach resources for young audiences. Isabel attended five state schools before studying Human Sciences at the University of Oxford. She also has an MPhil in Education Research from the University of Cambridge.

Twitter @isabelwriting | Instagram isabelthomasbooks


A M Dassu – Children’s Writer

A M. DASSU is the internationally acclaimed author of Boy, Everywhere, which was shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, nominated for the Carnegie Medal, is the 2021 winner of The Little Rebels Award for Radical Fiction and is also an American Library Association Notable Book. She is former deputy editor, now an Advisory Board Member of SCBWIBritish Isles’ Words & Pictures magazine; a director at Inclusive Minds, which is an organization for people who are passionate about inclusion, diversity, equality and accessibility in children’s literature; and one of The National Literacy Trust’s Connecting Stories campaign authors, aiming to help inspire a love of reading and writing in children and young people. A. M. Dassu grew up in the Midlands dreaming of becoming a writer but studied economics instead and worked in marketing and project management before realising her dream. Her work has been published by The Huffington Post, Times Educational Supplement, SCOOP Magazine, Lee and Low Books, Old Barn Books, Scholastic, DK Books and Harper Collins. When she isn’t battling emails or writing, A. M. Dassu mentors aspiring authors and loves to shout about other people’s books. She writes books that challenge stereotypes, humanize the “other”, and are full of empathy, hope and heart.

 Twitter @a_reflective | Instagram a.m.dassu


Darren Chetty – Teacher and Children’s Writer

Darren Chetty co-writes, with Karen Sands-O’Connor, Beyond the Secret Garden, a regular column on the representation of racially minoritised people in British children’s literature for the online, free periodical Books for Keeps. Darren has provided training for the Carnegie Kate Greenaway judges and advises on the CLPE Reflecting Realities research and Penguin / Runnymede Trust Lit in Colour project. He has judged the Blue Peter, YA, and Little Rebels book awards.

Darren co-edited Welsh Plural: Essays on the Future of Wales (Repeater).  He is co-author, with Adam Ferner, of How to Disagree: Negotiate Difference in a Divided World (Quarto) and with Jeffrey Boakye, What Is Masculinity? Why does it Matter? And Other Big Questions (Wayland) and co-editor, with Judith Suissa, of Critical Philosophy of Race and Education (Routledge). Darren was a contributor to The Good Immigrant (Unbound) and The Mab (Unbound).

Twitter @rapclassroom | Instagram rapclassroom


Stuart Lawrence – Motivational Speaker and Writer

Stuart Lawrence is a motivational and public speaker with over 20 years’ experience as a youth engagement specialist. He is the younger brother of Stephen Lawrence (13 September 1974 – 22 April 1993), a young black man from Woolwich, South-East London, who was murdered in a racially motivated attack whilst waiting for a bus in Well Hall, Eltham, on the evening of 22nd April 1993.  His family’s tireless campaign for justice led to cultural shifts and changes in attitudes towards racism within British society, the law and the Metropolitan Police. This fight and their story are still as impactful and important today as it was in the 90’s, whilst the fight for justice and change continues.

Twitter @sal2nd | Instagram hon_stuartlawrence



About the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Group

The Children’s Writers and Illustrators Group is the largest of all the Society of Authors’ special interest groups with more than 1,300 members. It was founded in the 1960s to address challenges facing writers and illustrators and advocate for better industry standards. It is run by an elected committee of nine authors who lead campaigns, develop resources and organise events. Every Group member can give up to three Reading for Pleasure Awards a year to hard-working and imaginative schools for their promotion of reading for pleasure. Find out more here.


Need to know 

Before the event

  • Once registered, you will be sent a confirmation email with the Zoom link
  • If the confirmation email doesn’t arrive in your inbox, please check your junk /spam email folder.
  • Please add events@societyofauthors.org to your Safe Senders list so you receive our confirmation, and reminder emails

During the event

  • This online event will take place on Zoom Webinar; you will not be visible on screen but will be able ask questions via the Q&A function or interact via the chat box
  • This event will be recorded but you won’t be on screen
  • Attendees have the option to turn on the live transcript option
  • This event is 60 minutes.

After the event

  • Hashtag for this event: #SoAatHome
  • You’ll be able to catch the recording on our Vimeo channel



Book your place using the registration form below.

All SoA @ Home industry insider events are free but, if you can afford it, we recommend a minimum £5 donation to the Authors’ Contingency Fund to help us support authors facing financial hardship during the health crisis. DONATE HERE

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Financial support for authors in need through the health crisis and beyond

Since March 2020, the Authors’ Contingency Fund has distributed over £1 million in small grants to authors facing financial hardship due to COVID-19.

With at least 57% of authors facing financial losses during the pandemic, we have helped people struggling financially due to contractual, employment and event cancellations, others who have lost income due to illness, and others prevented from working because of caring responsibilities.

As the health crisis continues, applications for grants continue to come in, and our emergency funds are running low.

So, if you are in a position to help, please donate via the link below. If you are an author facing financial hardship, please click here to see if we can help.



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The Society of Authors is the UK’s biggest trade union for authors – representing more than 11,300 writers, illustrators, translators and other creative practitioners.

Our standard subscription rate is just £26.25 per quarter (£18.50 for students).

As an SoA member, you’ll get:

  • Access to all our SoA @ Home Festival events for free
  • Unlimited one-to-one professional advice
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  • A range of member-only discounts, including books, insurance and travel
  • And much more.




14 June
19:00 - 20:30 BST
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Teddy Mcdonald