“Time for change: Black and minority ethnic representation in the children’s literature sector”

“Arts Council England commissioned this research in order to more fully understand the factors influencing this lack of representation, and to help bring about positive change as the sector works towards better reflecting the diversity of children in the UK today.” [p1]

It summarises its findings as:

“People from black or minority ethnic (BME) […] backgrounds are poorly represented in the children’s literature sector in the UK. Research by Equal Approach in 2018 found that BME people are underrepresented in the workforce of the publishing industry, and a report by Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) and the Archives Records Association [sic] (ARA) in 2015 showed that this lack of diversity is even more pronounced in the libraries and information services professions. Research commissioned by BookTrust found that only 2% of British children’s book creators (i.e. authors or illustrators) published in the UK from 2007-2017 were from a BME background. Furthermore, Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) found that despite 32% of UK school-age children being from a BME background, only 1% of books for 3-11 year olds published in 2017 in the UK featured a BME main character.” [p1]

Key recommendations include:

  • “Addressing unconscious bias and racism in the sector.
  • Supporting underrepresented groups at all stages of their career, enabling fairer access and progression.
  • Funding further research and monitoring to inform and guide actions.
  • Providing guidance and support for including diverse characters in books, promoting authentic representation and encouraging creative freedom and confidence.
  • Supporting more role models to inspire children and young people.
  • Increasing accessibility to diverse books.” [p4]

Cathy Harris, Bernadette Stiell and David Leather. Time for change: Black and minority ethnic representation in the children’s literature sector. Arts Council England, 2019.

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