We speak to schools a lot because schools need books. And they desperately need diverse books. We all need diverse books.
Before I had my children I hadn’t looked at children’s books for 30 years.
I had no need. It was only when I was a single Mum, reading to my baby son that I realised how little diversity there was in the stories that were available to us.
Where are all the single parents in kids’ books?
I noticed it because I never saw our single parent family in the children’s books I was reading to him.
I thought it was perhaps because everyone else was buying us books and if I took matters into my own hands I would easily find books that reflected the diversity of the population.
But I couldn’t easily find those diverse books and when I asked in a well-known bookshop where they all were, they didn’t know either.
Check the ingredients
It’s weird isn’t it. We’re waging war against fast food, artificial flavours and colourings and refined sugar because we want to protect our children from unnatural nasties. But yet when it comes to telling them untrue things through stories over and over again, we’re fine with it.
We tell them to expect happy ever after, heterosexual love and show them pictures of a world where white people take centre stage, single women don’t exist unless they’re ugly old witches or are beauties waiting for their prince, and handsomeness is defined by a chiselled square jaw,
But this is where damage is done. Kids are learning all the time, taking information from what they’re seeing and hearing all day long and they do draw their own, usually weird, conclusions…
I asked my three year old what I did for a job the other day and he said shopping. I’d really love that to be true…
Stereotypes are powerful
I grew up convinced that only men drank tea and women drank coffee because that was what I saw from the adults in my life. I thought only men got to be doctors and women could be nurses and I also grew up on a TV diet of James Bond. Imagine what that did to my expectations of what women should be like.
Diverse Books change lives
The truth is we should be paying as much attention to what our kids are putting in their heads as we do to what they put in their mouths. Diverse books are foundational. Good quality children’s books that feature a diverse cast of characters will set them on a path of understanding. Helping them to expecting and respect diversity. They will give them the right vocabulary. The ability to sit comfortably in our multicultural society. And the knowledge that there are differences between what we all see as ‘normal’. But fundamentally, as humans, we have a lot more in common than that which makes us different from each other.
Schools need to diversify their shelves
And this is why all schools need to have diverse bookshelves. Right now we’re being told over and over again that schools don’t have budget for new children’s books. Schools are asking us all the time when we’re donating books so they can provide kids with what they need.
Well, we are always donating. With our brand-new product out this week, we have new ways to give schools books. If you’re in the PTA or you’re a school governor, please think about joining our Book Boost programme. For £250 individuals or businesses can donate 20 books to the school of their choice. These diversify bookshelves, helping more children to become readers.
For more information on this brilliant product, head here…
And for information about our business memberships, head to www.litttleboxofbooks.co.uk/business-memberships
For more on this topic, read the piece I wrote in Grazia here.