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 authors Sita Brahmachari and Elizabeth Laird, as well as illustrators, teachers and parents!
Here is the response from Jane Ray:
‘I think the answer is always in the celebration of diversity and inclusivity. It makes my heart ache to think of what the world has lost by not encouraging and growing the talents and skills of so many people – people of colour who’ve been denied education, people with disabilities who have been written off, women, whose potential contribution to art, music, science, politics, has been crushed. What a tragic waste! Where might we be now if all that talent had been allowed to develop?
Perhaps there should be a particular celebration of Indie publishing (if there isn’t already) – a festival, Indie Week, a focus on what the Indies are doing, maybe relating directly to children – asking for their opinions and feedback.
People setting up Indie Publishing ventures are brave souls and a focus on their achievements and goals would be a boost and an encouragement.’
Jane Ray is an illustrator whose recent works include ‘Corey’s Rock’ and ‘The Glassmaker’s Daughter’. She’s based in London.
Here is what David Cahn had to say:
I work in early years care and education. I am white and work in practically all BAME nursery program. I’ve long intellectually known the importance of representation in children’s books but I have only viscerally understood this several years ago. Our imaginations are limited by the examples we see, or don’t see. We make a real effort to have books that actually reflect our children’s lives and communities but we still have plenty that don’t and it’s long over due for a change.
I am honestly a little skeptical of online activism but I think people could use the #diversitynow hashtag to target WHSmiths, Waterstones, Amazon and other mainstream booksellers with blogs, videos, articles and other content that showcases the impact of lack of representation in children’s book. Video interviews with older children and adults of colour telling their experiences of seeing or not seeing themselves in books would be powerful. Similar videos with white older children and adults telling stories about being oblivious and then their “aha” moments would be important too.
I honestly also think petitions demanding #diversitynow and in-person, group deliveries to local bookstores would be powerful. It’s not the individual employee’s “fault” of course but I think they would make a clear message that “benign” bookstores do need to make a real effort (and the internet content from it would be great!).
David Cahn is an early years educator and carer based in Leeds.
- 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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