According to the Guardian, Only 1% of British children’s books feature a main character who is black or minority ethnic, an investigation into representations of people of colour has found, with the director calling the findings “stark and shocking”.
In a research project that is the first of its kind, and funded by Arts Council England, the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) asked UK publishers to submit books featuring BAME characters in 2017. Of the 9,115 children’s books published last year, researchers found that only 391 – 4% – featured BAME characters. Just 1% had a BAME main character, and a quarter of the books submitted only featured diversity in their background casts.
This compares to the 32.1% of schoolchildren of minority ethnic origins in England identified by the Department of Education last year.
“It is a stark and shocking figure when you see it in print,” said Farrah Serroukh, who directed the project for the CLPE and presented it to publishers on Monday.
The researchers also analysed the quality of the representation, as well as the number of BAME characters. They found that more than half the books featuring a BAME character were classed as “contemporary realism”, and 10% contained “social justice” issues, such as war and conflict. Only one children’s book featuring a BAME character was defined as comedy.
Serroukh said that the CLPE had plans to work with publishers to help them improve. Recommendations include increasing investment in authors from a range of backgrounds, looking for stories where main characters are BAME, and ensuring that they are not “predominantly defined by their struggle, suffering or ‘otherness’”.
In conclusion, Serroukh said she hoped CLPE’s research would be useful as a starting point to help publishers reflect. “Hopefully in 10 years’ time, or however long, it will become redundant,” she said. “We are really keen for the UK market to develop a more nuanced conversation. We don’t want to be talking about volume in three years’ time, but about quality.”
Read the full research here
AfricanGlit.com | Rebranding & Celebrating Africa! FOR MORE AMAZING STORIES, FOLLOW US ON: Twitter: @African_Glitz Facebook: @AfricanGlitz Instagram: @AfricanGlitz