Friday, March 29, 2019

We Need to Talk About Diversity in Children's Books


What was your favourite, or most remarkable book as a child? What made it stand out for you? I am not speaking of the much-loved rhymes or picture books that were read to you as a baby to help you to formulate speech, but the books you were able to read for yourself, understand, and carry everywhere.

Mine was Afro-Bets a book about a teacher, Mr. Amegashie, and his inquisitive students, who he takes on a journey through Africa whilst they learn about the different countries.  At the age of five or six, I could probably only tell you that I loved the colourful illustrations and the funny banter between the young characters. But at age thirty-something, I can't help but wonder whether it was because I was seeing a representation of myself in Glo and Stef and the other Afro-Bet kids?

I later went on to read other fan favourites of the day: Jacqueline Wilson, then Judy Blume and the much loved Sweet Valley High and Goosebumps series (remember those?), but it all began with Afro-Bets.

There weren't many books back then with young, black characters, but in 2019 have they changed enough?

In fact, these stats* will boggle your mind:
  • 1% of all children’s books featuring characters from BAME background
  • Children start to form opinions on stereotypes as young as 4 years old
  • Of  9115 children's books published in the UK in 2017, only 391 featured BAME characters
  • Only 6% of picture books have any BAME representation
  • Only 3% of children's fiction literature have any BAME representation

The statistics are bleak, but like I said before things are improving, thanks to books such as From Anna Wintour to Zadie Smith,  an ABC book of inspiring women around the world. This creative children’s book features inspiring quotes and beautiful illustration of powerhouse women like Zadie Smith, Princess Di, Beyoncé, Michelle Obama and Serena Williams and many more.

From Anna Wintour to Zadie Smith is a children’s book that aims to encourage the next generation to learn the alphabet and about diverse women trailblazers around the globe.



In addition to the popular names, it also features the late talented Khadija Saye, British-Gambian photographer who sadly passed away in the Grenfell Tower fire. and Najlaa Sheekh, the peacebuilder and founder of charity Kareemat, that supports Syrian refugees in Turkey.

According to Raimah Amevor, the writer of this wonderful book, “it's a simple but powerful way to show girls and boys, inspiring women from around the globe in different types of roles." 



For me, this book is a powerful educational tool for kids of all races, which will set the tone for how they view the world. Whether you're a parent or know one, this is a worthy investment. Furthermore, for every copy sold, £1 goes to a few selected charities.

Purchase your copy here!

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6 comments

  1. Ooooh, I love the concept of this book. WHAAAAAAAT?!?!?! HECK YEAH, I'm getting this for Cocoa when she's older!

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    1. It's ingenious! It would be the perfect pressie for your little Cocoa

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