Teenage author tackles inclusion in publishing with brand new Christmas story
A new book written by a child author when she was just six years old is set to become a Christmas classic – and aims to change the way books are published so all children can enjoy the magic of reading.
Santa Steals Christmas! was written by Edinburgh schoolgirl Eve Nairn-Magnante, who is thought to be Scotland’s youngest published author. Now 14, Eve produced the book in partnership with leading charities, so its design and format are accessible to children and families with neurodiversity and sensory loss.
The book, illustrated by renowned illustrator Nicholas Child, tells the story of Santa and his band of helpers seeking to unmask an imposter who has stolen the world’s Christmas presents. It has been supported and developed in partnership with charities including Dyslexia Scotland, Scottish Autism, Deaf Action and Fife-based sight loss charity Seescape, which all contributed knowledge and experience to the production of the picture book in different formats.
It is available as a dyslexia-friendly paperback edition; an enhanced audio description; a British Sign Language version; and four different types of Braille. Free copies are also being sent to schools and libraries, charities and hospitals, and a portion of the book’s sale will be donated to each of the charities which helped develop it.
Eve, who is autistic, worked very closely with illustrator Nicholas Child to help visualise the story, including characters of different ethnicities and abilities. Thought to be one of the world’s youngest published authors, Eve started writing the story with her father, Mark, when she was six. He typed it up to turn the original story into a book as a Christmas present for Eve, and they later discussed publishing it to donate the book to primary schools in different accessible formats. But the project grew as Eve developed her writing at school and eventually the pair decided to try and use her magical story to tackle exclusion in publishing.
To find out more about the book, visit Santa Steals Christmas website.
Eve, who is now in High School and enjoys samba drumming and acting as well as writing.
“While I don’t really remember writing the book, I think anyone should be able to access things that other people can access, and I find it unfair that books are written in the UK in a way that other people can’t read. Books are important for imagination and creativity, and no one should miss out on that. I particularly enjoyed working with Nicholas Child on the illustrations and helping him make the world I imagined come to life on the page.”
Eve added that she has her sights set on becoming an actor – but intends to keep writing on the side.
“I feel like writing is one of the only things I am good at. I have had hobbies, but I haven’t stuck with them. For me, writing is more of a hobby. I think I might write books, but I really want to be an actor.”
Cathy Magee, chief executive of Dyslexia Scotland
“We believe that every child should be able to realise their reading potential and this book has been designed to ensure the story is accessible and inclusive to all readers. This is a charming Christmas tale which will delight children and adults alike and is an ideal gift or stocking-filler this Christmas. Eve’s lovely story will keep readers guessing right up to the end of the book. It is perfect for sharing with the whole family.”
Charlene Tait, deputy CEO with Scottish Autism
“What a delightful book. Fabulous illustrations, a twist on traditional Christmas stories, topped off with a reminder of what is truly of value at Christmas. I am sure this story will become a firm favourite and will steal the hearts of children and adults alike.”
Lesley Carcary, chief executive of Seescape
“Seescape was delighted to work with Eve to make sure that children with visual impairments and their families could enjoy this wonderful book that captures the magic of Christmas for all children. Santa Steals Christmas! is a book that families and friends can enjoy together and brings joy to everyone – and our staff and clients are looking forward to reading it with their families.”
Eve’s father, Mark
“We are publishing a story we feel is truly for everyone. Eve imagined a world in which all children would feel seen and included and our aim was to ensure the story was available in multiple formats for everyone to access and enjoy – a truly inclusive experience. Our greatest wish is that the accessibility-first approach we adopted will serve as a benchmark to set a new standard for how all children's books should be published for years to come. I’m really grateful to Eve’s Primary 7 teacher at school who helped nurture Eve’s writing talent and let me know about the stories she was writing at school. It inspired us to try to bring Santa Steals Christmas! to children everywhere.”