Now seems an appropriate time to remind readers of two important projects from the children’s literature community. Both projects combine scholarly research with a follow-up programme of action.
We have covered the CLPE project Reflecting Realities in this blog, from its inception and through its development. The project quantifies the limited number of children’s books which reflect the range and complexity of multicultural life for British school children. Analysing the survey’s statistics has helped highlight, to publishers in particular, and to librarians, teachers and the rest of us, that higher quality and more holistic representations of BAME identities are needed – ones specific to a British context. Read more here. There is an ongoing blog, with guest contributors, such as this from Fen Coles of Letterbox Library.
The Book Trust commissioned UCL to establish a clear picture of who writes and illustrates the books our children read. The research took place over an eleven-year period (2007 – 2017). You can read their findings here. Taking action from this, BookTrust Represents is a three-year initiative to support and subsidise authors and illustrators of colour to promote their work and support them to reach more readers through events in bookshops, festivals and schools, as well as offering training and mentoring for less experienced authors and illustrators. The aim is, by 2022, to increase the number of authors and illustrators of colour in the UK from less than 6 per cent to 10 per cent.
Inspired by these findings and initiatives, CILIP (the librarians’ professional association) started up a new journal, Pen&Inc. This is a magazine and listing guide for those of us who are working with children’s books and who care about representation. It had some terrific and thought-provoking contributors in the first two issues. CV-19 has held up publication of issue 3, mainly because it goes to bookshops and because so many of them have been closed the decision was to delay publication. But it will go out at the end of the month. You can read it online, or in paper copy once the Centre reopens.