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Tiny Owl’s campaign for more visibility for diverse books continues!

Children from BAME backgrounds aren’t seeing themselves reflected in the books they read. We launched our campaign Diversity Now! to try and change this.

So far our campaign has received a fantastic response. We’ve heard from amazing people including Elizabeth Laird, Jackie Morris and Ken-Wilson Max.

This week we interviewed education professor Teresa Cremin, illustrator Joanna Scott and author Michael De Souza. Read their fab responses below!

First, Teresa Cremin‘s thoughts on how we can improve diversity:

Teresa Cremin

Developing awareness of this significant critical issue has to be a first step. If schools, literacy charities, libraries and other organisations who are committed to developing young readers work together we can surely make more evident the reasons why this status quo is simply not good enough, and that there is an urgent need for change. Involving parents and carers too will be important in order to influence this agenda and follow through to action. Although wider economic and socio-historical issues are at play here which are harder to change, doing nothing at a local/organisational level is not an option. Alongside a partnership conference for the teaching profession, (supported by indie publishers), might a symposium be organised in which ways forward could be discussed as well as research papers presented? Might a charter be drawn up that schools and organisations could endorse? It is every reader’s right to find themselves in books.

Professor Teresa Cremin is a Professor of Education (Literacy) at The Open University in the Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies.

And now we hear from Joanna Scott:

Joanna Scott

In my work as an illustrator I am always adding characters, in crowd scenes for instance, who are Sikh, Muslim, disabled, Asian, Chinese, a mix… rich and diverse. This is how we experience the world and so do our children. I feel if illustrators are given a brief for a well known brand, and have some freedom to create their own characters, then it’s crucial that they take advantage of this to show characters of all races, types and abilities to a wider audience, the client will thank you for it in fact. You’ve shown that you’ve thought that world through thoroughly.

Underpinning my illustration practice is a background in bringing diverse communities together through participation projects, working both with theatre companies and all sorts of organisations.

Amazing, wonderful things happen when you show a teenager the hopes of an elderly person, or you put a black person in a character role that would be traditionally white – differences melt away. People no longer see their differences, they see the similarity of their lives to others, their hopes and dreams mirrored.

I  believe more multidisciplinary arts projects as a vehicle to promote diverse BAME literature is a way to bring buyers, libraries, schools and media attention on board.

People need more than ever to feel involved in something, in a book, they need to buy into it in a meaningful way. By involving diverse communities and art forms to engage and bridge perceived differences, as well as bringing together perhaps media and libraries as hosts, everyone can be involved.

We can be the books we promote, harmonious, diverse peoples and creatures, living on one world under the same sky.

Joanna Scott is an artist and children’s book illustrator based in Hertfordshire.

Last but not least, children’s author Michael De Souza:

Michael De Souza is a children’s author who’s best known as the creator of the popular Rastamouse books.

  • Read our introduction to the campaign
  • Find out what Elizabeth Laird and Jion Sheibani said about diversity!
  • Hear responses from Ken Wilson-Max and Laura Carter.

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