Children’s Literature in Critical Contexts of Displacement

This project brought together academics and third sector partners with expertise in children’s literature, migration and education in in order to create a network that builds on common expertise and best practice in using children’s literature and the arts to help negotiate the current challenges stemming from multi-ethnic contexts of flux and precarious resources. 

We worked with our academic partners in Egypt and Mexico, as well as NGOs, governmental agencies, volunteer initiatives in both countries, to exchange knowledge on current issues of concern affecting the cognitive and emotional welfare of displaced children and to scope unique practices and identify successful strategies of using children’s literature and arts-based activities. We built strong partnerships between academics and non-academic partners in these two countries, especially with the Ministry of Culture in Mexico through the ‘Salas de lectura’ programme; through the International Board of Books for Children and Young People (IBBY) regional branches in Mexico (IBBY-México) and Egypt (EBBY).  With the added funding from the SCF-GCRF project, four days of workshops and field visits were held in Cairo and two in Tijuana/Mexicalli. We have developed arts-based research methods that can be used to record the impact of using children’s literature with displaced children, including ethical ways of working and recording this work. 

PI and Co-Is - International Collaborators

PI - Prof Evelyn Arizpe - University of Glasgow, School of Education

Co-Is: Dr Julie McAdam and Dr Lavinia Hirsu - University of Glasgow, School of Education

International team:

Dr Cristina Amescua, Centro Regional de Investigaciones Multidisciplinarias/National Autonomous University of Mexico (CRIM/UNAM)

Dr Ibrahim Awad, Centre for Migration and Refugee Studies, American University in Cairo (AUC)

Start and End Date

October 2017 – April 2019

Funder and Funding Amount

Arts and Humanities Research Council/Global Challenges Research Fund £60,000

Related Publications

Arizpe, E., Hirsu, L., McAdam, J.E. and Zárate, M. (forthcoming 2022). Estrategias de mediación cultural en emergencias: lectura y escritura como refugios simbólicos. Bogotá: Centro Regional para el Fomento del Libro en América Latina y el Caribe, Cerlalc-Unesco.

Hirsu, L. , Arizpe, E. and McAdam, J. (2020) Cultural interventions through children’s literature and arts-based practices in times of disaster: a case study of reading mediators’ response to the Mexican earthquakes (September 2017). International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 51, 101797. (doi: 10.1016/j.ijdrr.2020.101797) (PMID:32834977) (PMCID:PMC7425675)

McAdam, J. , Abou Ghaida, S.Arizpe, E. , Hirsu, L. and Motawy, Y. (2020) Children’s literature in critical contexts of displacement: exploring the value of hope. Education Sciences, 10(12), 383. (doi: 10.3390/educsci10120383)

Project News

The Network continues to grow, with new partners in New Zealand (Waikato Picturebook Research Unit) and the Centro Regional para el Fomento del Libro en América Latina y el Caribe (CERLALC), among others.

The team continues to be invited to present on the Network at various international online events and conferences:

  • La mediación cultural en contextos adversos: lectura y escritura como refugios simbólicos. Invited lecture with Julie McAdam, Lavinia Hirsu and Mónica Zarate for Cátedra Peruvian Ministry of Culture, the National Library of Peru and Casa de la Literatura Peruana, Peru, 27 November 2020 (online live event, 80 viewers, 3000 fb views by 1 Dec 2020).
  • Libro álbum y contextos adversos: antes, durante y después de la cuarentena. Invited Webinar Seminario Permanente de Fronteras de la Literatura Infantil y Juvenil, Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. 9 October 2020 (fb online live event, 300 live viewers, 1000 views 1 Dec 2020).
  • Libro álbum e inclusión: la lectura durante y después de la cuarentena. Invited Webinar for Seminario de mediación de lecturas y escrituras and the Festival de literatura infantil, Centro Cultural del Banco de la República, Colombia. 10 September 2020 (Webex online live).
  • Children’s Literature in Critical Contexts of Displacement: Exploring how story and arts based practices create ‘safe spaces’ for displaced children and young people, with Julie McAdam, Lavinia Hirsu, & Susanne Abou Ghaida, ECER PRE-WEBINAR Forced Migration and The Global Education 2030 Agenda: From educational research to policy and practice, 24 August 2020.
  • Historias que cruzan. Artes y cultura en los espacios en crisis. (Stories that cross over. Arts and culture in spaces of crisis). Invited Webinar for Fundación SM, IBBY México LEEMigramos, COLIJ (Comité de libros infantiles y juveniles de la Cámara Nacional de la Industria Editorial Mexicana) and Centro Cultural de España en México, 8 August 2020 (fb online live event, 500 viewers librarians, mediators).
  • La lectura en tiempos de crisis. (Reading in times of crisis). Invited Webinar for Ministry of Education, Plan Nacional de Lectura y Escritura and CERLALC Colombia, with Mónica Zárate, 2 July 2020 (2000 youtube live viewers -librarians, teachers and mediators, 9,000 views 16 Feb 2022).
  • Reconstruirnos en comunidad: Herramientas para una intervención cultural en situaciones de emergencia. (Reconstructing communities: Tools for a cultural intervention in situations of emergency). Invited Webinar for Ministry of Education, Mexico (Vincula Cultura SecCult México): with Mónica Zárate and Mariana Schmidt, 28 April 2020 (870 fb live comments from cultural workers/ 6000 views 1 Dec 2020).

Associated Websites

Associated blogs or Twitter feeds