Romani and Traveller kids deserve heroes too

- Blog | Stanislav Daniel

Marley Dias loves books, but finds it weird that within their pages there were no black-girl heroes to which she can relate. Born from frustration this 11-year-old started a campaign called #1000blackgirlbooks, which attracted international attention. A year ago, The Guardian and other big media outlets brought Marley’s campaign to a wider public.

This week, Marley Dias, now 12, is in press again. Following the publicity garnered by her campaign she has signed a book deal with children’s publishing company, Scholastic. She will be an author and the main character of her own book. We keep our fingers crossed for her and wonder how many other children, including young Roma and Travellers, have similar experiences?  How many children explore literature but fail to find characters that reflect their own lives and experiences?

Growing up as a Czechoslovakian-Romani child, I too, lacked the chance to read about Romani heroes. Only years later did I discover Romani fairytales and later other heroes, like Rukeli Trollmann. But we are missing stories for the youngest children. There are some authors, albeit grown-up-ones, who have stepped up to help Roma children find themselves between the covers of a good book.

Richard O’Neill is a Romani storyteller who, in 2016, published two books; “Yokki and the Parno Gryand “Ossiri and the Bala Mengro”. Both books capture young children’s imaginations by presenting stories from Romani and Traveller communities. Yokki lifts the spirits of a struggling Traveller family while Ossiri, a Traveller girl, creates her own musical instrument from a willow branch and lots of recycled objects. And through these beautiful stories, Richard O’Neill reminds us of the ancient Romani art of storytelling.

It is crucial to ensure that Romani and Traveller children from an early age can identify with the heroes they read about. It is important for the development of healthy identities and it is better than giving up on book because they cannot relate to the characters. And so, while we wait for more young children to publish their own books, just like Marley Dias, we at REYN are extremely happy to see adult authors write about Romani children, for Romani children.

Some thoughts on REYN from Slovakia

- Blog | REYN Admin

Finally, we have a great opportunity to change the world and create together the image of our society where the past will not push us. Does it sound daringly and utopian?

Never mind, we will learn together and support each other.

What would we lose?

Just the fact, that someone will not accept our opinion, and will demur to our everlasting disappointments. Someone can be worry because there a new and fearless generation of non-recognized professionals has been growing.

We are firmly convinced that with acquired self-confidence we will be able to manage creation of more beautiful world for our children. Then the world will learn that we are not burden, but we are able enrich the stereotypical and rotten system, which does not offer anything new, just wraps up phrases from white into pink paper.

We look forward to getting any word, any voice with the aim to have a rainbow over the sky.

And what is our keyword? No more legacy of oppression.



Welcome to the blog of the Romani Early Years Network – REYN!

- Blog | PalLaszlo

Welcome to the website of the Romani Early Years Network (REYN)!

REYN invites all interested professionals and para-professionals working in services aimed at young Romani children and their families to follow this website. Here we will share news, blogs, resources and promote a good start in life for Romani children from the earliest age.

“Romani (rro-mân-ee) people – Rromane džene in the Romani language – are frequently seen as the beneficiaries of early childhood services but rarely as the deliverers of them. This blog is about changing that, altering the perception that Romani early childhood development (ECD) professionals are not there in pre-schools, nursery schools, reception and early primary classes, community playgroups or home visiting programmes. It’s also about sharing the experiences of delivering quality ECD to Romani families, and working together to ensure that Romani children have the best start in life.