This is the home of the NCRCL blog, where you will find news, updates and posts from members of the staff, students and alumni at the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature (NCRCL) at Roehampton University in west London.  You can read more about our popular MA in Children’s Literature which is run on-site and through distance learning, as well as undergraduate teaching in children’s literature in both our English and the Creative Writing departments. Please feel free to comment with questions or thoughts.

CFP: RoundTable, a new PGR Journal at Roehampton University


RoundTable is a biannual peer-reviewed journal which actively promotes original and imaginative work by postgraduates and early career researchers within the fields of Creative Writing, Children’s Literature and English Literature.

RoundTable has a life beyond its pages and is invested in fostering a postgraduate community curious about research and practice beyond discipline boundaries.

Seeking Submissions for the first issue (spring 2017)


Academic articles | submit 250-word abstract & short biography Creative works | submit up to 3 poems or up to 1,500-word fiction piece & short biography

E-mail submissions to 

Deadline: 26 August 2016

Alumni News: Disability and Belonging in Arabic Children’s Literature

Susanne Abou Ghaida is a first year PhD student at the University of Glasgow, researching the Arabic Young Adult Novel. She completed her MA in Children’s Literature at the University of Roehampton in 2014. In that same year, she presented her paper “Disability in Arabic Children’s Literature: Inclusion, Participation and Belonging” at the IBBY/NCRCL MA Conference. Susanne developed her conference paper for publication this year in eSharp, entitled “In the world but not of it: Disability and belonging in Arabic children’s literature on disability”.

By Susanne Abou Ghaida

I first began to look at disability in Arabic children’s literature in 2011. At the time, I was coordinating the Arabic Children’s Literature and Reading Programme, and one of our activities was a prize for books on disability. We asked publishers to nominate entries, and it was an opportunity to discover books on disability from different Arab countries. We noticed a clear will to portray disability positively, but also some confusion, including in our own minds, about how to do so. Our next step was to organise a workshop, the first of its kind in the Arab world, on inclusive and accessible books with the wonderful Alexandra Strick.

What began as a professional interest morphed into academic engagement. When I was doing my MA in children’s literature at Roehampton University, I wrote an assignment on representations of disability in Arabic children’s literature, getting introduced in the process to disability studies which continues to inform my views on this topic. Later, when the NCRCL and IBBY UK announced that the theme for their 2014 conference was “Belonging is… an exploration of the right to be included and the barriers that must be overcome”, I sent in an abstract, entitled “Disability in Arabic Children’s Literature: Inclusion, Participation and Belonging”, that was later accepted.

In keeping with the theme of the conference, I decided to focus on how Arabic children’s literature depicts disability in social space. Disabled people, real and fictional, do not live in a vacuum but within various social units, from friendship circles to families to larger communities. The vast majority of Arabic children’s literature has a clear agenda of promoting inclusion, a vision of disabled people at the heart and not the fringes of their communities. However, if one looks more closely, are there fissures and problematic features within this seemingly unified message? In addition to examining how these books promote inclusion, I pay special attention to a trope that recurs frequently in this literature, the disabled achiever or ‘supercrip.’ I argue that achievement often becomes a requirement for societal acceptance, a ‘tax’ to be paid while the belongingness of non-disabled characters is never in question. As I like to end on a high note, I then closely analyze two wonderful children’s books that make us look at disabled achievement in new ways: Heya, Huma, Hunna She, The Two of Them, They] by Nahla Ghandour (author) and Jana Traboulsi (illustrator) and Moghanni al-MatarThe Rain Singer] by Zakariyya Muhammad (author) and Ahmad Al-Khaldi (illustrator).

I felt that presenting a paper at a conference was an ideal starting point for a chapter or journal article. Getting my abstract accepted was a confidence boost, and I had a clear deadline to have a draft ready. I also found the feedback I got insightful and encouraging. Later when eSharp, a postgraduate journal edited by MA and PhD students at the University of Glasgow where I am currently doing my PhD, launched a call for papers on the theme of ‘Inclusion and Belonging’, I sent in an abstract. Once the abstract was accepted, I had two months to revise the paper I had presented at the NCRCL/IBBY Conference paper. This draft was sent to an anonymous peer reviewer (also a postgraduate student), who fortunately only requested a few clarifications and asked me to rewrite my conclusion which I did while making sure that my paper complied with the journal’s style guide. Then, like a proud parent, I saw my paper let loose into the world.

To read the full version of my paper, “In the world but not of it: Disability and belonging in Arabic children’s literature on disability”, click here; a short version of the paper is available on the IBBY UK website. Also, a French translation of Heya, Huma, Hunna [She, The Two of Them, They] is available from Amazon.

A Distance Learning Student Visits the NCRCL Open Day 2016


The annual NCRCL Open Day was held on Saturday 11th June 2016 at Digby Stuart College, University of Roehampton. Gail Pilkington, a Distance Learning MA student, attended the event and has written her impressions of the day.

By Gail Pilkington

Visiting the university as a distance learner can be a little daunting, especially with all the building work on campus, but from the security staff to fellow students everyone I met was exceedingly helpful and friendly.  With excellent cake, biscuits, and coffee, the Open Day started with informal chats and the air of hospitality continued. Having only met my tutors through Skype, it was lovely to actually see them and to hear the brief introductions from all the NCRCL staff.


Aidan Chambers then began his talk ‘The Stranger Within Me’ and the audience was captivated.  We were challenged: Who is your second self?  Who is the stranger within, the writer who writes? While the talk took some unexpected turns, the time passed unbelievably quickly with everyone being challenged to “find your voice”.  Inspired, we took our first break to chat with other attendees and lecturers, as well as to see the posters* produced by final year students on their dissertations, both critical and creative. We returned for the second part of Aidan Chambers’ talk with bated breath: Chambers’ story of finding the stranger within him, the true voice for each of his novels.  We were encouraged to see the novel as an artwork, but to understand that in undertaking a novel we needed ‘the energy of delusion’, the confidence to write and to fail.

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Nivia De Andrade Lima, winner of the Penni Cotton Prize for work in Visual Texts, with Professor David Rudd.

We could have continued to listen to Aiden Chambers all day, but unfortunately our time was nearing its end. The morning concluded with hearing about the excellent work of two current MA students: Nivia De Andrade Lima, Distance Learning MA student, was awarded the Penni Cotton Prize for her Visual Texts essay ‘The Ironic Use of the Gutter in Postmodern Picturebooks’; Emily England received the Pinsent Prize for her strong performance on the on-site programme; and Annette Russell was awarded the Hancock Prize for her strong performance on the Distance Learning programme and her dissertation, ‘”Who’s that girl?” Fracturing postmodern female selfhood in adolescent fiction’.


Children’s Literature Collection in the Roehampton University Library

The Open Day finished with a tour of the university library by Julie Mills, Subject Librarian in Children’s Literature, which in itself was a great reason to visit the campus. The tour was enhanced with tips from other students on good books to read for next year’s modules….so much for a summer beach read!

*Poster presentations by current MA students studying on-site or by distance learning. A winner was selected from each group.

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Winning poster by Siobhan O’Brien, Distance Learning MA student.

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Winning poster by Stine Storli Andreassen, on-site MA student.

Bookings Open for Archiving Childhood!

Archiving Childhood: The 3rd NCRCL Conference
Friday 1 July, 2016
Whitelands Campus, University of Roehampton

Photo Creative Commons

The 3rd NCRCL conference celebrates the archive in all its forms and recognizes it as an important aspect of childhood culture. “Archiving Childhood” emerges from a collaborative project reflecting the ongoing research of members of the National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature. Our keynote speaker is Dr Keira Vaclavik, Senior Lecturer at Queen Mary, University of London and Co-Director of the Centre for Study of Childhood Culture, who will be presenting on Lewis Carroll’s Alice as style icon and her collaboration with the V&A Museum. The programme showcases innovative research inspired by archives, collections, museums, and libraries around the world.

We will end the conference with a wine reception and a performance by acclaimed singer-songwriter Darren Hayman who will also be talking about collecting folk lullabies, musical research projects (including his response to William Morris, one of Whiteland’s most famous associates), and the influence of childhood memories on his work,.

There will be exciting exhibitions and an interactive archive trail to explore during the day.

For updates and glimpses into the archives visit the Archive Childhood blog or follow us on Twitter @archivechild!

Fully Funded PhD – Jacqueline Wilson Scholarship 2016


Department of English and Creative Writing

Postgraduate research studentships – Jacqueline Wilson Scholarship

The University of Roehampton is pleased to make its annual Jacqueline Wilson Scholarship open to a general call for research topics in the field of children’s literature. This will be awarded to a postgraduate PhD student working in the field of children’s literature or creative writing for children. The Jacqueline Wilson Scholar will be based in the award-winning National Centre for Research in Children’s Literature (NCRCL) with access to the Children’s Literature Collection and archives, and will join a lively community of researchers, writers and students. This fully funded scholarship will cover home/EU fees of £4,121 for Home/EU students and maintenance of £16,296 p.a. in 2016/17 for 3 years full-time subject to satisfactory progress.

The scholarship is open to new students only and preference may be given to proposals that build on the research interests of the NCRCL. These include, but are not limited to: philosophy; theory; historical fiction; landscape; domestic spaces; memory; reading. Applicants are encouraged to identify potential supervisors as part of their application.

The Department of English and Creative Writing with over 600 students and 33 academic staff, has a growing international reputation for its research and teaching excellence. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), 80% of all our research publications were ranked as “world leading” or “internationally excellent” for their impact. The successful candidate will become part of an active and growing community of postgraduate scholars in a vibrant research culture, established external collaborations with London institutions and a very good track record of student success.


The Department is looking for candidates of the highest quality, capable of submitting a Ph.D. thesis within 3 years. Applicants should have completed an MA degree in a relevant subject, such as children’s literature, reading or memory, prior to the start of the studentship. Applicants should also be able to demonstrate strong research capabilities and fluency in spoken and written English that meets the university’s entrance criteria for doctoral study.

The University of Roehampton is set on a beautiful, traditional campus in south-west London. The University provides its students with exceptional facilities, high quality teaching and a close-knit, collegiate experience. It has a diverse student body and a cosmopolitan outlook, with students from over 130 countries.

Deadline for applications: 30th June 2016

Interviews will be held on 7th July 2016

For further information or for informal discussion please contact Professor David Rudd:

Application packs can be found here:

To apply, please complete a PhD Application Form and email your application, along with transcripts and letters of reference, to Please mention in your covering email that you are applying for the Jacqueline Wilson Scholarship.

Please visit to find out more about postgraduate research at Roehampton. For all non-academic queries relating to the studentships, please contact Graduate School Admissions on 020 8392 3715, email

Call for Papers: Marvellous Imaginations

***The deadline for proposals extended to Thursday 30th June 2016***

23rd Annual NCRCL MA/IBBY UK Conference 

Saturday 5th November 2016

Froebel College, University of Roehampton

Marvellous Imaginations – Extending thinking through picture book

This year’s conference explores the ways in which picture books contribute to the development of the child (or / and indeed the adult) through critical, imaginative, empathetic, creative or other responses. We will look at the international world of picture books; at trends and developments in publishing; at specific academic research on children’s interaction with picture books; and at some of the wide range of programmes and projects that use picture books as a starting point for their work, including established programmes like the Reader Organisation in Liverpool and new programmes like CLPE’s Power of Pictures and Amnesty’s work with the Greenaway awards. We will hear from eminent illustrators, including Laura Carlin who will be presented with her medal for winning Biennale of Illustration, Bratislava, one of the oldest international honours for children’s book illustrators, and about the new Klaus Flugge Prize for the most exciting newcomer to picture book illustration. The conference will include keynote presentations by well-known illustrators, academics, and key figures in the children’s literature world.

Proposals are welcomed for workshop sessions (20 minutes) on different aspects of picture book production and use, such as, but not only:

  • Cognitive approaches to children’s literature and picture books
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Empathy and theory of mind
  • Exploring values through picture books
  • Growth mind set
  • Innovative/experimental picture books
  • Challenging picture books
  • Illustrators’ experiences
  • How illustration works – the brain – influence of neuroscience
  • Psychological responses
  • Wordless picture books
  • Crossover picture books
  • Creative thinking / creative responses to picture books

We welcome contributions from interested academics, authors, illustrators, publishers etc. in any of these areas.

The deadline for proposals extended to Thursday 30th June 2016. Please email a 200-word abstract (for a 20-minute paper), along with a short biography and affiliation to: