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A poem about diversity in literature by Simran Divatia

The release of CLPE’s report Reflecting Realities left many people disappointed but perhaps not surprised by the results. The report had revealed a huge lack of diversity within children’s books, showing that in 2017, only 4% featured BAME characters, with only 1% of books having BAME main characters. Simran, an intern with Tiny Owl, captured her own feelings about the report in a poem, speaking as an Indian girl who has grown up with very little ethnic representation in the books she read as a child. Read it below:

Representation

1 %

I wrote white girls

with blonde curls

or red spiky hairdos

that my mane

could never be

1%

I drew characters

who looked like my friends

and never like me

none of them

were anything like me

4%

a background character

has my skin tone

a different sounding name

she mentions offhand

some ethnic food

and I am ‘represented’

4% is not enough

1% is not enough

for children holding books

like mirrors

and never seeing themselves

  • Read an interview with publishers Delaram Ghanimifard and Ken-Wilson Max about their responses to the report
  • Read Simran’s blog post about her response to the report
  • The importance of diversity in children’s books

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