We all remember fondly the books we used to read as children, with characters from Snow White to Jack and the Beanstalk broadening our imaginations.
But if you think back hard enough, you may also realise that the one thing all your childhood favourites had in common was that they were all white.
This year, an Arts Council report revealed that just 1% of children’s books from 2017 had a black or minority ethnic (BAME) protagonist.
Shockingly, only 4% of children’s books featured a non-white character at all.
Some publishers around the country are working to change all of that by printing books that represent and celebrate the diverse culture that the UK has to offer.
Delaram Ghanimifard, the co-founder of independent publisher Tiny Owl Publishing, believes children’s books should reflect the multicultural, modern society in which we live.
She said: “It’s very common among BAME children to imagine and dream themselves to be in another skin colour. This is because the ideal ‘type’ in the books they read are portrayed as white.
“It’s important for all children to see themselves in books as beautiful people living a normal life. It’s also important that children see others in normal lives and being beautiful. This improves acceptance, tolerance and leads to a healthier society.”
Here are the best diverse children’s books on the market right now:
Julian is A Mermaid by Jessica Love, £11.99, Walker Books
After being captivated by mystical mermaids on his way home from his Nana’s, Julian decides to transform himself into one too.
This creatively told book does a great job at dismantling gender stereotypes without being preachy.
Baby Goes To Market by Atinuke, £7.99, Walker Books
Baby Goes To Market is the latest release from children’s author Atinuke, telling the story of baby and Mama as they explore the bustling marketplace in their hometown.
Atinuke detailed what inspired her to write children’s fiction. She said: “When working as a storyteller the questions children ask about childhood in Africa have not changed since my own childhood.
“So I wrote the story of a girl growing up in an African mega-city as I had. I had spent my childhood reading books about white middle-class children and their childhoods.
“I do not want children being ashamed of having a different culture to the mainstream white Western one.”
Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Helen Oxenbury, £5.99, Walker Books
Designed for little ones, Mem Fox’s rhythmic picture book introduces babies from all over the world.
It’s a true celebration of diversity that will engage parents and children alike.
My Young Adventures: Meet Mya & Family by Jeannelle Brew, £9.99, Bryan House Publishing
In the first of a funny and thoughtful twelve-book series, Meet Mya & Family introduces readers to the energetic Mya and her amazing family.
The book’s author, Jeannelle Brew, told the Standard what motivated her to write a series of books aimed at teaching children about the importance of diversity.
“I grew fed up of seeing little black girls in stories that just focused on embracing their hair and skin and little else,” she said.
“These tired narratives work to suggest that black kids are not meant to be carefree children and go on adventures and trips like their white counterparts.
“It’s very important for literature to represent the world around us, which is diverse and multi-faceted.”
The Girls by Lauren Ace, £11.99, Little Tiger Group
A coming of age tale with a difference. Four girls meet under an apple tree to share secrets, dreams, worries and schemes.
As well as having diverse characters, it’s also a great lesson on the importance of female friendships.
There are many more fantastic books out their what celebrate diversity & these are just a selected few that do! It is great to see that diversity is striving in children’s books, & long may it continue.
Source – Standard . co . uk