By EMMA LEVERTON
When Bobby Thandi and I began our journey of writing the Fly Guys series, our mission was clear: to share a message of equality and diversity to younger generations through a fun, relatable story.
There is no reason to shy away from important topics like equality, diversity and discrimination. They can be difficult topics to broach with little ones but it is vital to make these issues visible to them. Since ignoring these matters doesn’t make them go away, we run the risk of allowing children to be pigeonholed based on circumstances beyond their control, such as through class, colour, creed or disability. This is because by brushing discrimination under the carpet the discourse which opposes it also disappears. Talking about discrimination therefore makes us one step closer to solving it rather than inadvertently perpetuating it.
One key responsibility that we have when writing for kids is to educate them in an engaging and entertaining way. This is where literature can play a key part. When Fly Guys came out in December, Fuzz and Alice’s relationship with one another served as an ideal archetype for friendships with those who are different to us. Daddy’s distain for Fuzz, merely for his virtue of being himself, represented the ugly face of discrimination. The juxtaposition of a human/fly relationship, coupled with both humour and rhyme aimed to engage children in a fun and unusual way, while also encouraging children (and parents) to connect with the core message of the book.
As Bobby says, “No child is born with prejudice” but if we want to keep it that way we need to encourage children to think about the “big questions” from a young age. Mandip Sahota, Private Secretary to Minister of State at Foreign & Commonwealth Office for the UK Government, says that, “At a time when we hear reports of prejudice on the increase, the challenge is how to promote equality. Fly Guys is a fun story with a reassuring reminder – children are not born with prejudice.”
We all have to work within our limited parameters to improve the situations around us. This is why in our day to day life we must treat others with love and respect regardless of our differences. When hate and discrimination exists in multiple forms and on all corners of the globe it’s understandable that we as adults can feel helpless. I like to believe however, as many do, that by quelling the spread of hate and discrimination, we can work towards a better future. It is difficult to not be inspired by a child’s innate inquisitive nature. Reading, writing and literature can be at the forefront of their knowledge and discoveries, and parents can encourage this by reading to children from a young age. The Fly Guy message aims to educate children on equality and demonstrate that aggression and hostility towards others is unacceptable.
I am very fortunate indeed to be able to share my passion for equality with children through the Fly Guys Series and. Be it through literature or other means, the more people who realise that they too can raise awareness about the issue of discrimination, the better a place this world will become.
If you’d like to read Fly Guys for free and hear the talented Sandra Huggett narrate the story – please download the Apple App: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/fly-guys/id984558873?mt=8
Emma Leverton is a freelance writer and editor from England, who also writes for the Huffington Post,. The Fly Guys stories are her first book series. Monday Madness is available to buy on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1505371368.