Bringing diversity into children’s books

*Extract from a BBC News article. Full article here

Author Sharna Jackson is something of a rarity.

As a black children’s writer, she’s already in a minority. But her debut book High-Rise Mystery, a detective story starring young black sisters and featuring a diverse cast, puts Jackson in an extra select league.

“When I was young, I kept on reading and watching but the representation wasn’t there,” Jackson tells BBC News. “It was hard to find role models outside popular culture.

“When I read, the default in my head was ‘white’. Unless the character was black, it wouldn’t be stated.”

According to the recent report BookTrust Represents, covering 2007-2017, just 5.6% of published UK children’s authors and illustrators are from a black and minority ethnic (BAME) background.

And in 2018, figures from the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) showed that of the 9,115 children’s books published over the previous 12 months, 4% featured BAME characters.

Only 1% had a character of colour as lead. In many cases, the stories were about social justice issues or conflict rather than mystery, magic or fun.

*Read the full article here