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Reflecting Realities

Reflecting Realities Report findings

Today we share good news from the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education and their annual Reflecting Realities report.

The latest Report shows that ethnic representation in children’s books has increased.

In 2017, only 1% of the children’s books published featured a main character of black, Asian or minority ethnic origins. This year, the report reveals that, 8% of children’s books published in 2020 featured a main character of black, Asian or minority ethnic origins.

Celebrating Progress

We celebrate and acknowledge the progress that Reflecting Realities continues to highlight. We are so grateful to the team at CLPE for helping us all to shout about this issue at volume.

But this progress is also testament to the thousands of people who are campaigning for change at the big publishing houses. And to those setting up disruptive publishing houses.  It is testament to the black and brown authors and illustrators. Those who have to split their time between creating and ‘representing’ because change is so frustratingly slow. Also to the Influencers, celebrities and journalists who continue to create awareness of the issue.  And to all the booksellers who introduce children to incredible inclusive books, before they get buried beneath a mound of celebrity novels.

As an inclusive bookseller since 2018, we can see the change. We are selling thousands of books every week. Demand for inclusive books is high. And we are now being offered hundreds more titles, from publishers, every year that reflect the diversity of our population. There is so much more variety and so many more titles for us to choose from and that is a brilliant thing. Some of them are even funny!

Funny Books

As the report says,

“The volume of comedy titles in which characters of colour are located has continued to grow each year. From just one title in the first report to 10% of this year’s submissions.”

Some of our favourites include,

The Christmas Carrolls by Mel Taylor-Bessent, Mayhem Mission by Burhana Islam and Little Badman and the Time Travelling Teacher of Doom by Humza Arshad and Henry White.

Authentic Representation

But to keep up our end of the work of Reflecting Realities, we now have to be even more discerning in our book choosing, to avoid tokenistic representation. Diversity isn’t a trend, and shouldn’t be seen as just a vehicle for selling more books. Although we are testament to the fact that inclusive books do sell, really well.

For this change to be sustained, the creators of children’s books, must also reflect the diversity of our population.

From the report,

 “The industry should continue to invest in both established and new authors from a range of backgrounds who are able to paint characters and worlds with the integrity that the subject matter deserves.”

Diverse bookshelves are crucial for every child. It is essential we continue to see this progress year on year, until all children see themselves in books.

Primary School Literacy

And we have to get these books into schools.

A report released by the National Literacy Trust on Tuesday, said,

  • School libraries face a chronic lack of investment, with the most disadvantaged communities most affected: 1 in 8 primary schools in England do not have a library, and this jumps to 1 in 4 schools with a higher proportion of children on free school meals. There is no statutory requirement for schools to have a library.

This report research revealed that 40% of schools couldn’t afford books. But when we spoke to 100 schools as part of our Crowdfunder, we found 80% had no budget for books at all. Whatever the number, the situation is bleak for primary school literacy.

Business Memberships

Which is why we have launched our business memberships. This initiative encourages businesses who have thrived in the pandemic to work with their local communities to rebuild primary school libraries.

For as little as £250 businesses can donate books to schools and start transforming those collections.

When children love to read they are more likely to succeed academically in all subjects.

Books change lives.

To find out more information about our business memberships here.

And to be part of the change and help families diversify their bookshelves this Christmas, head on over to our Christmas Shop.