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Tiny Owl had a brilliant day at the Youth Libraries Group London Unconference, hearing from some wonderful children’s publishers and sharing our own experiences.

Part of the conference was to discuss which books people would love to see nominated for the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Awards 2020…fingers crossed that some of our books are nominated!

If you didn’t get the chance to see our presentation, this is what our co-founder Karim said:

Tiny Owl started in 2015 with the aim of publishing high quality, diverse and inclusive picture books. Our beautifully illustrated books draw inspiration from cultures all over the world, including Persian legends and the stories of Rumi. We’re a small indie publisher but we think globally, often matching authors and illustrators from different countries to form unique collaborations. We’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the most beloved children’s book creators in the UK, such as Beverley Naidoo, Pippa Goodhart, Elizabeth Laird, and Jackie Morris.

While we’ve celebrated many successes, such as our book ‘Thinker’ by Eloise Greenfield and Ehsan Abdollahi winning Highly Commended in the CLiPPA Award, we’ve had our fair share of struggles too.

There’s a real desire amongst readers for high quality diverse and inclusive children’s books, but if you go into a big high street retailer, they’re very difficult to find. Larger bookshops often have an unconscious bias against diverse books. They see them as financially risky, so don’t put them in a prominent place where customers can find them easily, if they stock them at all.

We’re working to challenge this. A big part of our approach has been engaging with parents, teachers and librarians through social media. By directly reaching out directly to people who care about diverse books, we’ve been able to make a big impact. We started a campaign called Diversity Now to highlight the need for diverse books. Although diversity in children’s books has lately become something of a buzzword, the fight for representation has been a long one, and will doubtless continue for a long time. To make change happen, we need to create a continuous call for books that reflect the diversity of our world and the people in it.

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