How books will help to start the conversation of racial equality with the youngest in society.
In 2018, Arts Council England published a project entitled ‘Reflecting Realities - Survey of Ethnic Diversity in UK Children’s Books’. The aim was to quantify and evaluate the extent and quality of ethnic representation and diversity in children’s publishing in the UK. This process involved analysing submissions of all children's literature published in the UK in 2018 that featured Black or minority ethnic (BAME) characters to determine to what extent they were represented. The results, although an improvement on previous years, were still alarming. They highlight the stark underrepresentation of BAME characters and the affects this have on racial narratives for children from the outset. The study of 11,011 children’s books released in 2018 found that:
743 featured BAME characters.
Only 7% of the children’s books published in 2018 featured BAME characters.
Only 4% of the children’s books published in the UK in 2018 had a BAME main character.
BAME children make up 33.1% of pupils in England.
Over half the fiction books with BAME characters were defined as ‘contemporary realism’(books set in modern day landscapes/contexts).
10% of books with BAME characters contained ‘social justice’ issues.
Given that we obviously need to do more to address the balance and for children to see an accurate reflection of society in their literature, we have compiled a list of books for children that can at the very least start the conversation, with the aim to bring about real, meaningful change. You can find it here.