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 we’ve had fantastic responses from people like author Elizabeth Laird and illustrator Jackie Morris. This week we spoke to author Sita Brahmachari and teacher Jon Biddle!
We asked them:
“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?”
Sita Brahmachari, author of brilliant books including Artichoke Hearts and Corey’s Rock, gave her response:
As a child I longed to see a textured, rich palette of diverse tales told and accessible in translation. Publishers like Tiny Owl who understand the giant impact of these stories in inspiring readers , should be widely championed. They offer stories that expand worlds , possibilities, aspirations and dreams for children who have rarely experienced believing themselves or picturing themselves as protagonists . It’s vital for a more empathetic and caring future world that diverse and inclusive stories reach readers that sing to young minds and hearts – ‘here at this story hearth you too belong, here you are, here you can dream and imagine belonging and becoming.
*Sita Bramachari is an award winning children’s and YA author, theatre maker and educationalist. She is the Amnesty Ambassador based in London.
We also spoke to year 6 teacher and English coordinator Jon Biddle. This was his answer:
The Reflecting Realities report from the CLPE has highlighted the desperate need for books featuring BAME characters, and it’s great that Tiny Owl and others are leading the way in trying to improve the situation. Unfortunately, little has actually changed in the make-up of characters in children’s books over the past few years and more needs to be done, and quickly. Actively promoting books featuring a diverse range of characters is the responsibility of every teacher, librarian, author and publisher in the country. There are some wonderfully diverse books out there (although sometimes you have to search quite hard to find them) and they need to be celebrated.
How can schools help? By reading and sharing them in class, creating displays in school libraries and corridors, sending home lists to parents and promoting them on school social media accounts, getting children to champion them in assemblies, and engaging with authors, illustrators and particularly publishers, letting them know that the current status quo can’t continue. All children are entitled to see themselves represented in what they read, and it is our moral duty to help make it happen.
*Jon Biddle is a Year 6 teacher and English coordinator based in Norfolk.
Stay tuned for next week, when we will be posting another round of fantastic responses to our campaign!
- Read our introduction to the campaign
- Watch Elizabeth Laird’s response to ‘Diversity Now!’
- Read a blog for the Independent Publisher’s Guild
- Read a response by Beverley Naidoo and others
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