Authors urge children to join pandemic diary project

Sidlesham-based author Kathryn Evans is launching a pandemic diary project for children.

Kathryn Evans
Kathryn Evans

“In the great tradition of Samuel Pepys, the Our Corona Diary project hopes to document the pandemic through the eyes of children,” she said.

“Diaries have always been a window to extraordinary events in history – think Samuel Pepys on the Plague, Anne Frank on World War II, Nelson Mandela on apartheid.”

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Now Kathryn, as one of a group of award-winning children’s authors, is launching a project to encourage young people to keep diaries throughout the coronavirus crisis.

“The aim is to build an online archive and ultimately publish an anthology that can become part of the historic record of a time that has changed the world forever.”

When the coronavirus pandemic struck the UK, teen author Kathryn had just finished reading The Diary of Anne Frank.

“Frank was thirteen years old when her family went into hiding in secret rooms during the Second World War. Frank did not survive the war but the diary she kept while in hiding went on to become a multi-million bestseller.

“It was all the small, ordinary details that struck me,’ says Kathryn, who won the 2016 Edinburgh International Book Festival First Book Award for her debut novel, More of Me.

“She was recording her family’s daily lives in hiding: how they managed things like celebrations, how they got irritated with each other. It was clear she felt completely disenfranchised. Everyone treated her like a child … but history has shown us that she had very important things to say.”

The Diary of Anne Frank inspired Kathryn to create Our Corona Diary, a diary-making project for children under lockdown during the current pandemic.

As schools closed across the UK, she got to work, recruiting a team of author friends to create the programme.

They have created a website http://ourcoronadiary.co.uk where the diary entries can be submitted and archived

“The website will link to the multitude of inspirational resources for children stuck at home that authors and illustrators have been producing in response to the outbreak.

“With weekly themes and prompts posted on Instagram and Twitter, we hope to foster a sense of community amongst participants sharing their diary entries daily.”

The idea is to collate the best of the content into an anthology, with a listing of the names of all the children who contributed to the project.

“A diary can give focus and meaning to a difficult experience,” says Corona Diary team member Candy Gourlay, a Carnegie shortlisted author. “We believe that this will be an important record of our children’s daily lives through this historical disruption.”

Kathryn added: “Anne Frank has shown us that young people’s voices deserve to be heard in the valuable telling of history.”

In addition to Kathryn, the team behind it all includes:

Candy Gourlay, a Filipino author living in London.

Jo Wyton, a UX designer who writes novels for young adults.

Addy Farmer, the author of many picture books for young childrem

Matt Killeen, author of Orphan Monster Spy, which was shortlisted for the Costa Prize.

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