Finding my Family | Guest blog by Vicky Gooden

Updated: Nov 24, 2021

Finding my Family is a guest blog series exploring how families are represented in children's books, whether that's due to set-up, ethnicity, neurodivergence, disability, LGBTQIA*, socio-economic status or any other facet of diversity.

Vicky is a mother of one and has spent most of her career in marketing, starting off at a record label before moving into TV. Over the years Vicky has enjoyed writing her own blog about subjects close to her, including infertility and endometriosis. But it was 2020 when she ticked off a huge life goal of publishing her own children’s book, representing little ones with surgical scars.

Find Vicky on Instagram

Vicky’s blog:

Bun Bun Books on Instagram

My Wonder Line book:

Who makes up your family?

I live with my husband and our almost 3 year old daughter. I'm lucky to have my parents, brother and in-laws just a short drive away too. 'Family' to me includes many, many others though. From brand new friends I've bonded with over sleepless newborn nights to those who I have known for years and can count on for a giggle at any time of day over the phone. I consider myself really lucky and know how important it is to continue to nurture cherished relationships.

Why is inclusion in children’s books important to you on a personal level?

I've always wanted to write a children's book, since I can remember. I always had visions of creating brilliant characters on whimsical adventures. But it wasn't until my daughter was diagnosed with a heart defect aged 1 and subsequently underwent open heart surgery shortly after diagnosis that I realised I wanted to write one that was going to offer support and a rather specific representation. We knew she would be left with a scar and we knew this would be a topic of conversation as she grew. So I wanted to find a book to help us navigate that when the time came but couldn't find one. So I decided to write it! I wanted my little one and countless others like her who have surgical scars to be able to see themselves on bookshop shelves and to own their stories.

Can you recall any occasions when you’ve found representations of yourself/your family in children’s books?

Growing up I was pretty shy and I don't ever recall finding any books about that. But now it seems that you can find so many about emotions and feelings which is so brilliant!

How did it feel to find these representations, not find any representation or to find inauthentic or negative representation?

To be honest things felt different back then. I probably didn't even know to ask if there were books about being shy or quiet. I just thought that was me and that I was different to the louder, more 'confident' children around me. Maybe I didn't even feel the need to find a book about it. It just was what it was. It would've been brilliant though, back in the eighties/nineties, to find children's books about people of colour. I remember in primary school having Asian children start the school and to learn more about other cultures right back then could've made a lot of difference.

How could someone authentically represent you/your family in a children’s book? What nuance would make it authentic?

My husband's job sees him travel internationally, sometimes away for weeks at a time and I am left to run the house, juggle work and be mum. That would be a good read and I'm sure one that many families could relate to! I think another subject to explore would also be the loss of a pet. We lost our beloved dog in 2020 and while there are some books to help that conversation with little ones (we bought one called Heaven which we love) a few more on the shelves would be fab. And finally, more books that explain grandparents getting older and less able would be so supportive.

If you or your family could be in any children’s book (as yourselves) what book would it be? Why?

Right now it would have to be Zog so we could whizz around on dragons all day... but only on the ones who have mastered that bit of dragon school!

What is your favourite children’s book? Why?

I just cannot pin it down to a favourite of all time. But my favourite right now that my little one and I enjoy is Joy by Corinne Averiss because, again on the theme of representation, it gently covers the subject of a grandparent not quite being herself. My own mother is suffering from a degenerative disease and books like Joy really do help touch on such tender areas of life.

If you want to take part in this blog series, fill out this form to submit your responses.

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