Diversity in the publishing industry

Here’s an image of Natalie Lee (Style Me Sunday) holding a copy of my children’s book written for my mixed-race daughter, Thea. Only a very small percentage of British children’s books feature a main character who is black or minority ethnic. In a research project that was the first of its kind, and funded by Arts Council England, the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) asked UK publishers to submit books featuring BAME characters in 2017. Of the 9,115 children’s books published that year, researchers found that only 391 – 4% - featured BAME characters. Just 1% had a BAME main character, and a quarter of the books submitted only featured diversity in their background casts. This compares to the 32.1% of schoolchildren of minority ethnic origins in England identified by the Department of Education in 2016. Disillusioned with the lack of diversity in children’s books, I (with two mixed-race children of my own) decided to create a series of story books with non-white characters. I wanted to create children’s books with characters that looked like my own children. It’s slowly getting better, but there is still a way to go. Do you still struggle to find BAME children’s characters in the mainstream bookstores?

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