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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 we’ve had fantastic responses from people like author Elizabeth Laird and illustrator Jackie Morris. This week we spoke to Carnegie Award-winning author Beverley Naidoo, book blogger Read It Daddy, and librarian Matt Imrie!

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?”

Beverley Naidoo is a British-South African children’s author

Beverley Naidoo is a Carnegie Award-winning children’s author. Her first book with Tiny Owl is Cinderella of the Nile.

She said:

Diversity reflects the world! Why would you knowingly choose to corral children’s minds into a small corner? Desire for Uniformity? Standardised homogeneity? How sad & strange not to explore our diversity & journeys of empathy that can open rather than close minds!

 

Read It Daddy is a children’s book blog run by a father and daughter team. This was their response:

Read It Daddy bloggers Phil and Charlotte

On our blog we’ve always championed stories and publishers that demonstrate to kids that they can be the stars, the characters that define a story, the ones who see a reflection of themselves in books – and not just a tiny proportion of books – as clearly as they see their reflections in the mirror. Diverse books don’t just help the children they’re aimed at but also help other children to learn and understand issues and difficulties that BAME characters might face that they themselves do not. We’re very pleased to see Tiny Owl flying the flag for amazing diverse stories, and are so pleased to see such positive reactions to our reviews of their titles.

 

Matt Imrie is a librarian, writer and activist based in Kansas, USA. He has previously lived in the UK and South Africa. He said:

A change is in the air with regard to books by BAME authors and illustrators and also with books featuring BAME protagonists. Initiatives led by publishers (Knights Of push for BAME bookshops springs to mind immediately, and your Diversity Now initiative will be added to my list) For the past several years I have created and been updating a list of British BAME authors and illustrators to help colleagues in School and Public Libraries find books by these

Librarian Matt Imrie

creators. Also after CILIP’s diversity review for the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards they (CILIP) will, amongst other things, be championing diversity, raising awareness of diverse books amongst librarians and creating lists of diverse awards eligible books (full details here) Librarians and Library workers around the UK do share information on all sorts of books via social media and blogs and authors (& illustrators) are often more visible and contactable via social media than at any other time in the past. The problem for Library folk is that often books by BAME authors slip past as their publicity is minimal. Heightening awareness can be done in a number of ways – reaching out via social media to libraries library staff that are online, publishers could also send details of forthcoming books to be included in the CILIP Youth Libraries Group (YLG) Monthly Newsletter (details here), publishers attending library conferences (YLG, Schools library Group and the School Library Association spring to mind immediately) Working with regional groups of the YLG, SLG and SLA is also a good way of spreading information to front line staff in libraries.

  • Read our introduction to the campaign
  • Read our blog about the campaign for the Independent Publishers Guild
  • Read a response from Elizabeth Laird and Jion Sheibani
  • Read a response by Jackie Morris and Savita Kalhan

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