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Our campaign to promote visibility for diverse and inclusive books has got off to a flying start! Thank you to everyone who has already shown their support!

To kick off the campaign, we interviewed fantastic children’s author Elizabeth Laird and great illustrator Jion Sheibani!

We asked:

“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?”

This is not good for our cultural life in this country – Elizabeth Laird

It was great to hear Elizabeth’s thoughts on the lack of diversity in children’s books, where this issue stems from and what we can do about it! Elizabeth said that publishers “have got to to be a bit braver and take different decisions. At the moment, money is all and in the end that’s not good for our cultural life in this country”.

Elizabeth called it an “intractable problem” that goes “right back into the education system”. She also raised her concern about the lack of BAME representation in children’s toys, and the message that this sends.

Watch her brilliant and thoughtful response:

 

Elizabeth Laird is a distinguished British children’s author based in London. We have published her book Grobblechops, part of our Tales by Rumi series. 

 

We just need to speed it all up! – Jion Sheibani

We also spoke to illustrator Jion Sheibani. This was her response:

Jion Sheibani

Every author and illustrator has a duty to make their work inclusive. Not just one or two people of colour in a crowd. I’m talking main characters. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get a book published and we’re living in xenophobic times. If we are lucky enough to have a voice and a platform, we must all use it to tell stories that celebrate our differences and help make children better human beings – no matter what our skin colour is. Booksellers are vital too. Independents are very aware of this problem but the big chains must champion books that reflect our reality and invite more BAME authors/illustrators to do events. The publishing industry is not diverse enough but thankfully, lots of great initiatives are being taken. We just need to speed it all up!

Jion Sheibani is a British author-illustrator based in Paris

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