Happy blog-birthday to me!!

One year ago today this blog was born.
It has gradually evolved as I’ve learnt more about children’s books, chatted with and met many of the wonderful people who make and love them – and as I’ve grown and learnt more about myself! The Rainbow Library has developed over this time too. It didn’t exist this time last year – I started it for International Book Giving day in February 2013. Another anniversary to celebrate!

So now I’m going to blow my rainbow trumpet… here goes….
I’m hugely proud of what I have achieved over the last year!
I am! And not just of what *I* have achieved. I’m proud of you guys too. All of you wonderful, creative, intelligent and passionate people that have come along for the ride. Because every time I pop my head up and shout “hey guys, where are all the female animal characters? Where are the books that represent diverse families? Where are the books that show every child who they are and who they can be? Why don’t these brilliant kids have access to quality inclusive books?” you guys listen. And you respond. And you send books. And we chat and have ideas and ponder and rootle and make plans and inspire others and WE CHANGE THINGS.

That is the part that astounds me when I think about it. Together, we have made Change happen. Authors and illustrators have contacted me to say that our discussions have changed the way they think when they are creating new characters. Publishers send me new books that *are* inclusive. Children who didn’t have a book in their home now own their own book and have daily access to a whole heap more. There are 3 rainbow libraries up and running and we have inspired others to set up similar libraries in their own communities. And they are Working. Really working!

We did that! How amazing are we?! All in one itty-bitty year! Ooooo just think what Team Rainbow could achieve in 2014!!

I want to say thank you to all of you for making it a cracking year full of laughs, new friends, new learnings, truffles and… books! You have all been so supportive and I am truly grateful and honoured to chat with you and be in your booky gang. I’d like you all to treat yourself to an extra goody today – a slice of cake, a glass of something yummy, a sneaky biscuit… or perhaps a new book! Ah go on! The Rainbow Book Fairy *made* you do it!

So to celebrate a whole year of booky-brilliantness I am not running the customary anniversary competition. Sorry folks, but you should know by now that I don’t like to follow the crowd. Nope, instead, I’m setting up another library! The Rainbow Kid’s Library.

This one is a bit different. Rather than a library based in a school or nursery with an official borrowing system, I’m setting this one up as a community library. Kids (or their parents/carers) are free to take a book home, share it, enjoy it and than replace it or give it back.

I wanted to set up a kid’s library for the children in my neighbourhood. One that they can access on their doorsteps that isn’t associated with school. The heart of my community is the Ashington Stores. It is a well-used and well-loved local shop where the owners genuinely care about their community. When it snows they dig their way out and deliver on foot to make sure everyone is safe and has enough milk for their tea. When a kid stays out too late in the summer and parents worry, or a pet goes missing, the search is centred from the shop. They know everyone and they look out for everyone. Where better to set up a community kid’s library? I was inspired by Free Libraries and Pop up libraries and the lovely Helen from Ashington stores has kindly donated shelf space to the library. We’ve set it up in a prime location – next to the pic’n’mix!

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I’m hoping to run book review competitions for the kids and hold story picnics in the Easter and summer holidays. I want to get a love of books firmly into these kids’ lives. I want them reading for pleasure. I want them to be excited by books, just like the children from the other Rainbow Libraries are. I hope that this can be the start of something bigger and that it will bring the kids in the community together.

And to reward myself for a year’s work I’m booking in to attend the Inclusive Minds ‘What About Me?’ day at the Imagine Festival on 21st Feb. I am really excited about this event. It is so very *me* and I’m really looking forward to sharing it with my family. I’m looking forward to working with authors and illustrators to create truly inclusive work. And I’m looking forward to meeting up with some of you lovely lot there too. Let’s make it a party! Come along!

Thanks for a brilliant first year. Here’s to more of the same in year 2! Cheers everyone!

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