Diversity in children’s books

The great big book of familiesHere in Child Friendly Leeds @Child_Leeds, we’ve just matched our stock to the Best Culturally Diverse Books for children and ordered copies or extra copies of everything on the list that’s available. 

Authors and illustrators Alex Strick, Sean Stockdale and Ros Asquith are challenging people to look at some children’s books when they next go to the library and see if any of the leading characters are from less ‘conventional’ families , have any disabilities, are they all white?

They believe that alongside books about robots, aliens, gruffalos, vampires, dragons and wizards, books need to show a few more images of society as it really is: diverse. There should be a place for every child and it doesn’t need to be overt – books can include all children naturally, subtly and without comment.

Watch this space, we’ll post our list in the next few weeks when all the books arrive.

Ros Asquith and Mary Hoffman have already produced some books which do this (click the links to see copies):  Max the Champion which includes a vast range of disabled children and Great Big Book of Families  and  Welcome to the Family which remind us that there are many ways to make a family.

It must be good for all kids not only find someone to identify with in books, but also to read about and understand others’ situations.  Books play a valuable role in exposing readers to new ideas and experiences, allowing them to walk in other people’s shoes whether the character is a wheelchair user, has two mums, or is from a traveller community. 

There’s also a new initiative calling for all publishers to look at how they can make their books as inclusive as possible. It’s called ‘Everybody In’ and should pave the way to a new diverse world of books for all of us! The Everybody In campaign is asking people to tweet “I’m in” to @InclusiveMinds using the hashtag #everybodyin