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How to Talk to your School about Diversity in Books

Two boys holding a box of inclusive and representative childrens books

I’ve been talking a lot about schools this year. We are delighted that our family subscriptions continue to grow, you guys are the backbone of our business and we are so grateful that so many of you continue to buy from us every single month. We need you all to keep buying and keep being part of the incredible movement we’ve started.

Why schools, why now?

We’re targeting schools primarily this year because we know, through getting into schools we can get in front of thousands of children. Our book boxes could change thousands of kids’ experience of school, experience of reading, understanding of themselves and how they fit and that is exciting.

All schools need diverse books

I’ve heard this week from a school who has one black pupil. The teachers know this is not representative of the UK population or the world population and so they’re looking for diverse books that will show that to this one child and to all the other kids in the school. They don’t have diversity within the school so they’re bringing it in and that is amazing. I love hearing stories like this.

We need YOU!

So, we need you, we need you to find out what’s going on with school bookshelves and spread the word about what we’re doing.

When I first dropped my son off at school, it had been about 20 years since I’d even been inside a school building and I got all the weird feelings. The staff room still felt out of bounds, I really didn’t like calling teachers by their first name and there was a lot that didn’t feel that different to 20 years ago.

Anyway, don’t let that hold you back from doing something positive for your child’s education.

Diversify their bookshelves

Diverse bookshelves aren’t just nice to have, they are crucial for all schools. It’s not ok for some schools to give lessons on being anti-racist but have bookshelves full of stories that only feature white main characters. It doesn’t back up the learning they’ve done and doesn’t give children further context for what they’ve just learned and perpetuates a cycle of over represented children thinking they’re more important.

Ofsted are particularly keen on schools demonstrating a commitment to diversity and teaching and representing race and culture in fair balanced ways.

One way of doing that is by balancing the bookshelves.

So good sense, good morality and Ofsted are on your side.

Tiny budget? No problem

Some schools may have a miniscule book budget, but miniscule is some and we are happy to help you spend it. Often the PTA will step in if it’s something essential or outside of core spending

So, what can you do?

Speak to the schoolbook buyer about the diversity on the bookshelves. This could be the headteacher, the literacy lead, the literacy coordinator, the librarian, head of English or a school business manager.

School budgets have been small for years and some schools haven’t had the funds to update their library selection. This may be a difficult topic for teachers who know the school needs more books. But this is a fact-finding mission. It’s not about blame, it’s about ensuring as many children as possible start getting access to inclusive and representative books.

You can ask to see a sample and find out if they have books that show diversity in race, culture, family set up and background. My son brought a non -fiction book home about the Olympics last week. It was published in 1983.

Children are asked to read everyday, the selection of books they choose from is so important. Ask the teachers if they’re planning on investing in books that are more representative of society, ensuring more of the school population will see themselves in stories. And hand them our details, you can hand them our web address, email address, I don’t mind.

If you don’t know whether you’ll have the words and are not sure you want to chat about it, we are selling school starter packs here – which you can just hand to the literacy lead.

Please make sure they say your name when they make their order so I know and can send you a lovely gift in the post.