The most recent Book Trust Represents report has been published. This research collects statistics on the number of people of colour who are creating published children’s literature in the UK.
A few quick thoughts on the findings:
– The comments and insights given by so many writers reinforce facts we already knew, both good and bad. It’s clear that publishers are taking active steps to make sure they publish a greater diversity of voices. It’s also clear that there’s anxiety around how deep the change goes. The graph below, taken from the report, shows a sharp increase since 2016. It also shows that when my first book came out in 2008, I was one of just FOUR people of colour to have a first book for children published that year. There is really only one way: up!
– There are still very few British children’s book creators of colour. According to the report, in 2021, 11.7% of children’s book creators were people of colour. Only 4.5% were British. The Book Trust target of 13% of children’s books to be created by authors and illustrators of colour by 2022 looks a lot harder to reach if you consider only British writers.
I just don’t understand why this is the case. We have talented creators right here, who are both British and people of colour. Not choosing to publish them only reinforces the idea that, both at home and abroad, people of colour somehow can never be ‘really’ British. Yes, but… where are you really from? I would like to know if the majority of white creators of children’s books in the UK are also non-British. We need to value the voices and stories of British people of colour who create children’s literature. The fact that 34.5% of pupils of school age in England are from a minority ethnic background makes this even more imperative.
My warm thanks to everyone who contributed to this important research, especially Book Trust, Dr Melanie Ramdarshan Bold, Arts Council England and all the children’s literature creators who expressed their honest thoughts.
– Leila Rasheed
– Read the full report here: https://cdn.booktrust.org.uk/globalassets/resources/booktrust-represents/2022/research-reports/booktrust-represents-representation-of-people-of-colour-among-childrens-book-creators-in-the-uk.pdf