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Introducing our campaign for inclusive books

In 2018, CLPE (Centre for Literacy in Primary Education) published their report into the representation of BAME characters in children’s books, with some truly damning results. While 32% of school children in the UK are from BAME backgrounds, only 4% of children’s books have any BAME characters. Of these, only 1% had a BAME main character.

Children from black, Asian and other minority backgrounds simply aren’t seeing themselves reflected in the books they read. When children of colour aren’t seeing themselves represented in the media they consume, they feel even more marginalised. The publishing industry needs to do better.

That’s why Tiny Owl are starting our new campaign, ‘Diversity Now!’, to fight for diverse and inclusive books. Most big publishers simply aren’t invested in this issue, and don’t publish diverse books because they aren’t seen as commercial. That leaves indie publishers like us to do the hard work of getting the word out. While we do want to make our BAME-inclusive books more visible, this isn’t just about Tiny Owl. We’re fighting on behalf of all publishers, authors and illustrators who work hard to create a more inclusive world.

We know we’re swimming against the tide. Diverse books don’t get significant media coverage, and they aren’t well-represented in chain bookshops. From speaking with many teachers and librarians, we know that most do care about inclusion, but often struggle to acquire diverse books when every day their budgets are being slashed. Even when parents are deliberately searching for diverse books, they struggle to find them. The fight for diverse children’s books won’t be easy, but we believe that it’s worth it.

The ‘Diversity Now!’ campaign will speak to authors, publishers, teachers, parents and more, to further explore this issue and what can be done to challenge the status quo.

We are asking everyone involved in our campaign to answer this question:

“32% of school children are BAME, but according to Reflecting Realities survey only 1% of the children’s books published in the UK in 2017 had a BAME main character. There are some indie publishers who work hard to create diverse and inclusive books, but they don’t have the same visibility in the media, bookshops, schools and libraries. What can be done to change this?”

Please send us your views on social media or via email! We are especially keen to hear the experiences and opinions of BAME teachers, librarians and parents.

Stay tuned for our first interview, featuring the fantastic children’s author Elizabeth Laird!

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