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THROUGH MY EYES An Interview with Lyn White By Sarah Mokrzycki

A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting Lyn White, series creator and editor of the Through My Eyes series. Lyn hosted a lively and thought-provoking meeting at Editors Victoria on her groundbreaking series, discussing children’s literature, asylum seekers, culture and conflict. The Through My Eyes series encompasses six children’s fiction stories, each told through the eyes of a child in a different contemporary conflict zone. Malini, the fifth book in the series, hit bookshelves September 2014. 1) How did you come up with the idea for the Through My Eyes series? As a primary school teacher-librarian I was frequently asked by students for books of a similar genre to those written by Deborah Ellis – fiction stories of children in other cultures that had a strong link to reality. As an English as a Second Language teacher (now known as English as an Additional Language) I had the privilege of listening to the incredible experiences of refugee and newly arrived children who had been displaced and traumatized by conflict. I began to realize the potential of combining these two experiences – a fiction series of engaging stories of true events in troubled lands with insight into culture, conflict and identity through one child’s eyes. The escalating asylum-seeker debate provided further incentive to provide some needed context for young people.

4) What reactions from school children, teachers and readers in general have you had to the series? The response to Through My Eyes has been overwhelmingly positive and is continuing to build as each new story is released. The series website is full of comments and reviews from students and teachers who have not only enjoyed reading the texts but have been challenged in their own thinking about global issues. The young readers are telling me how their appreciation for their lives here in Australia has been heightened after entering the story worlds presented in Through My Eyes. They admire the protagonists who represent the children living in war zones and are inspired by their resilience, courage and commitment to their family and culture.

2) Why was the series was so important for you to make?



So many of the attitudes we want our young people to develop are based on knowledge, understanding and empathy. I felt it 5) Why was including teachers notes so important to you? was so important and timely to engage readers with the realities of children and families living day by day in warzones. I wanted As a teacher, I realised the potential of the series to support the them to realise the incredible courage and resilience Australian Curriculum, Global Education and the of such children and to experience a sense of our International Baccalaureate. I wanted to create I felt it was so shared humanity – these children also want to go to a comprehensive, digitally linked teaching and important and school, be healthy and live without fear. learning guide that would enable teachers to fully timely to engage explore the texts and link to several curriculum 3) Do you have a favourite book from the series? areas. The texts are suitable for literature circles, readers with guided reading groups, a class text or literary This is a difficult question as I am so connected to the realities of focus for a complete unit of work. Themes such as all the books, having been involved at every level human rights, social justice, culture and identity, children and of their production. Shahana by Rosanne Hawke friendship, family, courage, resilience and hope families living holds a special place, as it was the first book in the feature across the titles. The guides present series. I really admire Rosanne’s ability to bring her day by day in war numerous activities for exploring the universal experience of working as an aid worker in Pakistan zones. themes at various levels of complexity depending to her story that is so culturally authentic and on the age group of the students. sensitive. I also found myself very emotional each time I worked on John Heffernan’s Naveed. John has chosen a An important personal aim for the series was for the readers huge canvas on which to paint his powerful story of one Afghan to go beyond the stories to the real stories of children living boy who refuses to be beaten by the chaos and misery that has in contemporary conflict zones. A portion of the proceeds (up enveloped his country and threatens to escalate as Coalition to $5000) from sales of this series will be donated to UNICEF. troops withdraw. We see and feel the hardship, the tragedy, but UNICEF works in over 190 countries, including those in which above all we are moved by Naveed’s positivity and selflessness, books in this series are set, to promote and protect the rights of and the kindness of others. Readers are left knowing that there is children. The guides contain many links to UNICEF resources indeed light in the darkness. and opportunities for students to become involved as active global citizens.

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The 3rd edition of AM-UNITY magazine is out now! Just click on the magazine cover on the left to view our latest edition - in it we explore...

Edition 3  

The 3rd edition of AM-UNITY magazine is out now! Just click on the magazine cover on the left to view our latest edition - in it we explore...