A Good Friend – by Gemma Hunt
Gemma Hunt television presenter from Songs of Praise, CBeebies and Ambassador to The Outdoor Guide (TOG) Foundation is releasing her first children’s book – a diverse reimagining of the stories of Jesus.
The book, A GoodFriend, features a mixed-race family as the main characters and aims to give Jesus a face which isn’t the “stereotypical, blonde-haired and blue-eyed Jesus so many of us grew up with”.
Gemma, who rose to fame on CBBC in 2003 and stars in the hit series Swashbuckle, wrote the book for her own daughter – who has a mixed-race mother (Gemma), a white father, a Black grandmother and a white grandfather – so that she could see a family like her own reflected in the books she read.
“We couldn’t find any children’s books which represented a family like ours”, said Gemma, and while there is more diversity in kid’s stories these days, there was nothing which truly reflected my own child’s experience of home life. I wrote these stories because it is so important for children to see themselves represented in the literature and media they consume – I want my daughter to look at this book and feel like she’s looking in a mirror”.
As a Christian, Gemma aims for her book to promote a diverse image of Jesus – one that makes mixed-race children and children of colour feel part of the conversation on religion. In A Good Friend, the main characters – a mixed-race family just like Gemma’s own – carry out the parables and teachings of Jesus in a modern context, and are at the centre of every story, rather than confined to the tokenistic sidelines.
Gemma said, “As a child, your own experience of life is all you know. So, if you’re not seeing your life reflected in what you’re reading and watching on TV, it might lead you to question the life that you have and feel like your experience is not normal compared to the rest of the world. It’s so important for children to feel part of things – we all just want to feel like we belong”.