The Rainbow Library and Our Stories

Manchester City of Literature project

Over the last three years, with funding from arts councils in four nations, Pop Up Projects – a London-based children’s literature agency – produced an ambitious LGBTQ+ literature creation project called The Rainbow Library.

The Rainbow Library involved 80 young people in seven cities (Manchester, Nottingham, Basildon, Glasgow, Inverness, Belfast and Cork) taking part in workshops with 11 children’s writers and illustrators. While developing their own work, which was published in five digital anthologies, the young people were also directly involved in inspiring and shaping new LGBTQ+ inclusive stories, which the writers and illustrators went on to develop into manuscripts. The point of the project was to connect professional book creators with contemporary, lived experiences of being young and LGBTQ+.

In an age of rapidly shifting language to describe and define more fluid notions of sexuality and gender, it’s important that books for young people reflect the realities on the ground. There are three upcoming conferences, a no-less ambitious partnership with three UNESCO designated Cities of Literature in England and Ireland (Dublin, Manchester and Nottingham) marks the culmination of The Rainbow Library.

Curated by young people in the three cities, Our Stories celebrates the power and potential of literature for LGBTQ+ people – by including us, by embracing us, by giving us a place in a shared future free from stigma, discrimination and violence. Over three days, Our Stories champions the bold steps children’s publishers are making to advance equality, amplifies the stories of LGBTQ+ writers and illustrators, explores routes into publishing for aspiring authors, and considers the future possibilities for representation in books for all ages.

By bringing together young people, writers and illustrators working in every form of literature, and publishing folk from the UK and Ireland, Our Stories will spark a conversation with the industry, and ultimately to empower a next generation of LGBTQ+ writers and illustrators to take up pathways into children’s publishing.

You can get tickets to each of the conferences across the UK and Ireland below.