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:
Of these only 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.
I AM ENOUGH
This gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another comes from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers and talented newcomer artist Keturah A. Bobo.
We are all here for a purpose. We are more than enough. We just need to believe it.
ALL ARE WELCOME
No matter how you start your day, what you wear when you play, or if you come from far away, all are welcome here. Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcome.
A IS FOR ACTIVIST
A is for Activist is an alphabet book written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights and everything else that activists believe in and fight for.
DON'T TOUCH MY HAIR!
This picture book speaks to a national conversation on strangers touching black hair, and sparks an important conversation on personal boundaries for children as Aria explains that her hair should not be touched without asking for permission first.
Set in Accra, Ghana, The Ghanaian Goldilocks is a modern twist on the classic Goldilocks fairytale. Like traditional kente cloth, West African culture and themes are woven seamlessly into the story of a boy with sun lightened hair named Kofi, better known to his friends and family as Goldilocks.