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Ingrid Laguna

Author, Education Consultant

Ingrid Laguna is a dynamic and engaging author, educator, musician and inspirational speaker. She is the author of junior fiction novel Songbird, a story about a young Iraqi, Muslim girl struggling to fit into her new life in an outer suburb of Melbourne. Drawing on over five years of experience working with school-aged new arrivals to Australia, many from refugee backgrounds, Ingrid uses a range of strategies to support students to tell their stories in a way that is engaging and alive, with strong characters and effective language choices.

Where were you born?

I was born in Darlinghurst, Sydney.

What other jobs have you had?

As a percussionist, singer and songwriter, I have toured Europe, Asia and Australia, recorded several albums, and taken percussion and song writing workshops. With performance group Ruby Fruit Jungle, I supported Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant and Jimmy Page, playing at Australia’s biggest entertainment venues.

In the Australian film industry, I worked as a crew member on numerous television commercials, a telemovie and a short film.

While in Central Australia, I directed the NT Youth Film Festival and was integral to the Kunka Career Conference for Aboriginal Women, the Indigenous Music Awards, and music programs for Aboriginal youths.

My memoir, Serenade for a Small Family (A&U) was awarded a Varuna Fellowship and, after publication, The Age Non-Fiction Book of The Week. Songbird (Text Publishing) is my debut fiction novel. I have been published in The Monthly magazine and the AEU magazine. I am currently writing the companion novel to follow Songbird (also to be released with Text Publishing).

Further to my Master of Teaching studies, I am in my sixth year of teaching English to secondary-aged new arrivals to Australia at an intensive English language school.

What themes are recurring in your work?

I am interested in creating and using texts featuring diverse voices to inspire empathy in young readers and encourage them to tell their own stories.

What have been the highlights of your career?

Publication of Songbird, my junior fiction novel, inspired by the courage and resilience of my Iraqi and Syrian students.

Publication of my memoir, a story that took great courage to write but that reminded me of my passion for writing.

Touring Europe and Asia with a dynamic, percussion-based performance group, and playing at festivals all over Australia, as well as in Europe and Asia.

Working with Aboriginal youths as Director of the NT Youth Film Festival

Working with a team to develop the Kunka Career Conference for Aboriginal women was challenging and inspiring.

Where have your works been published?

My memoir and my junior fiction novel have been published in Australia. I’ve also been published in The Monthly magazine and the AEU magazine.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about laughing, anything salted caramel, posh hotel rooms, campfires, audiobooks, quality writing, dancing, Nordic noir and crème brulee tea.

I am also passionate about finding creative ways to engage young people in writing and reading and finding a voice. I am passionate about the journey of perpetually honing my writing craft and exploring the power of the written word.

Haven’t I seen you before?

I have performed on stages throughout Australia, Europe and Asia. I have run song-writing and percussion workshops at festivals and community centres around the country.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I have had the privilege of building relationships with many Iraqi and Syrian children over recent years, many of whom come from refugee backgrounds. Their resilience and courage have inspired my junior fiction novel Songbird.

Songbird is an excellent resource for young readers – an engaging and relevant text featuring a diverse voice which enables young readers to identify with the lives of others.

Educators and students attending my presentations will be exposed to a range of texts that feature diverse voices, and activities in which to use these texts to inspire students to put their own lived experience into words.

As an author, I can share my understanding of the key elements of the writing craft and ways to support young writers to build their literacy skills. My presentation can include strategies for fostering a creative and inspired classroom. This in turn facilitates risk-taking; that is, the willingness for students to delve into their pasts and to share their stories, leading to an improvement in literacy capability. https://www.ingridlaguna.com/

Testimonials

Our students were completely engaged in everything Ingrid had to say about her book, Songbird, Jamila’s experiences and what it’s like to be a writer. They also loved joining in with the presentation and discussion. As a teacher it was so fantastic to have an author talk to our students who was so friendly, charismatic and had total control of the room- her teacher skills were very evident.

—J. Ephgrave, Sunshine PS, October 2019

Ingrid was a captivating speaker who challenged our 10-12 year olds to imagine moving to another country. She involved the students in the presentation, keeping the engagement level high. She was generous with her advice for our aspiring writers. Very inspiring!

—M. Klein, Eltham College, September 2019

The students were always engaged and many questions were asked. Ingrid shared her experiences as an author and the challenges she has faced in completing published pieces. She shared pieces from her book Songbird, and spoke to the students about the meaning behind why she chose to write in this way.

—B. Justice, Bell Primary School, September 2019

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