Jessica Dunrod was born and raised in Cardiff and is currently studying a Masters degree in Translation, whilst being the Co-Chair of Cardiff University’s Student Race Equality Steering Group. The experience of trying to decolonise the university curriculum and providing support and equality for all students, highlighted the need to create educational children’s books on systemic racism and unconscious bias.
Her recent books are a tribute to her Welsh-West Indian heritage and Wales’ multicultural society. The main character of her book, ‘Your Hair is your Crown’, highlights a young girl called Hope who discovers that magical things happen around her when she gets her beautiful Afro hair wet and unleashes her curls.
Dunrod felt that this was important to feature these issues from her personal experiences growing up.
“In primary school, I was getting bullied because of my hair and I had to leave that school. My mother complained and the school said that they couldn’t ask the bullies to leave, so I was the one who had to leave. The head of the school resined form that primary school because she was disgusted by the results and that she wasn’t allowed to help us.
So, I feel this is a healing book for any girl who tried to burn their hair, straighten it and then five minutes later the rain hits and it’s frizzy. I used to cry over it all the time growing up, even before straighteners were even a thing.
The moral of the story is that magic all over the world can be found here in Wales, but the only way to access that magic is to be who you are and to be proud of who you are. So, when Hope accepts her natural hair, her world is full of colour and magic.”
Dunrod’s second children’s book, ‘Outstanding’, aims to inspire children to have a career in any field they choose, whether that may be an engineer or even a judge. This book is for every child and is aimed to empower the next generation of world leaders.
“The main point of the book is that Hope knows that she might not be all of these things growing up, but she will grow up to be outstanding.
I hope these books heal and help children accept themselves, celebrate their differences, see themselves being represented in books and succeeding in higher job positions.
Books with black characters are not just meant for black children. These books are for everyone.”
She hopes that her books will educate children on diversity, privilege and advantages within society.
“I believe that through education, along with positive and progressive role models small changes can be made to provide long term results for a more inclusive society.”
Dunrod hopes to also expand the Welsh language to different cultures by making her books multilingual. Currently, the books can be translated from English to Welsh, German and Spanish, which will also help children to learn different languages whilst reading.
A noticeable fact in these books is that any translated version of the book highlights the word ‘cwtch’. The aim is to spread the word ‘cwtch’ across the world so that people are familiar with words descended from the Welsh language.
“I wanted to make a point about how we always accept German and French words as part of the English language, but when it comes to Celtic and Welsh words we don’t. I purposely left the word ‘cwtch’ in every translated version. Hopefully, if it works, other cultures will adopt the word ‘cwtch’ and know that it’s a Celtic world and use it in their everyday vocabulary; just as we use words like déjà vu and other words that aren’t English.”
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the word, ‘cwtch’ is the Welsh word for cuddle or hug. Throughout the book, children are tasked to see if they can find the word ‘cwtch’ and explained the meaning and significance of the Welsh language.
To order your copies, please visit www.lilytranslates.co.uk
Or, to support a local Welsh black business, you can also purchase the books from https://shecancloset.co.uk/childrens-books