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Helen King

Helen King

Research project title

‘We are the gift of life’: The Political Potential of Childhood Reading in the Work of Beverley Naidoo


Dr Lucy Pearson and Dr Kyle Grayson

Contact details


Research interests

  • postcolonial approaches to children’s literature
  • diversity in children’s literature
  • anti-racist education
  • child agency
  • child activism
  • narratives of migration, displacement, and diaspora
  • reader responses
Helen King

A brief outline of my research project

This project is the outcome of a Collaborative Doctoral Partnership with Seven Stories: The National Centre for Children’s Books. Children’s literature has the potential to both contribute to and provide a powerful counternarrative to dehumanising popular discourses about displaced people. A writer of children’s fiction, depicting displaced children in West African, apartheid South Africa and the UK, Beverley Naidoo is in ideal subject for a case study examining this potential.

Using Naidoo’s children’s fiction and her archive held by Seven Stories, I use a postcolonial critical approach to interrogate the tensions between belonging and alienation for displaced children. Exploring the ethics of representing minority voices as an outsider, I examine how Naidoo constructs children as political actors and situates children’s literature and education within the political sphere. In so doing, I show how Naidoo’s work can contribute to current discussions around diversity and inclusion within the field of children’s literature. This research will create opportunities for public engagement alongside the Seven Stories CLE team.

Research activities


  • International Research Society for Children’s Literature
  • Children’s History Society UK

My academic background

  • MLitt in English Literary Studies, University of Aberdeen
  • MA in English Literature, University of Aberdeen