BookTrust is going to pay for authors and illustrators of colour to visit schools as part of its BookTrust Represents project, which was set up to boost the number of BAME creatives in children’s publishing.
Yesterday the organisation said fewer than 6% of published children’s authors and illustrators in 2017 were people of colour, and only 1.98% of those were British, according to new research. And between 2007 and 2017, only 1.96% of the children’s books published were by British authors of colour.
Over the next three years BookTrust is hoping to boost those numbers and ensure that at least 10% of children’s book creators are people of colour by running a number of initiatives.
Speaking at an event in central London yesterday (16th April), director of books Jill Coleman said BookTrust will, starting in June, organise an unspecified number of author visits and will pay all the author fees, as well as take aspiring creatives of colour to shadow the events.
BookTrust is also working with independent bookshop Letterbox Library on creating a book pack for schools, with each title by an author or illustrator of colour, and will run free training and networking events.
In addition, BookTrust will support the FAB Prize, set up by Faber and the Andlyn Agency to find new BAME author and illustrator talent, and is creating a closed Facebook group where authors and illustrators can talk and share information.
Other statistics the BookTrust Represents research revealed was that the number of books published by creators of colour declined between 2015 and 2017, after previously showing an increase between 2007 and 2015, and women of colour were more likely to be published than men of colour (65% to 35%).
Speaking to an audience that included Klaus Flugge (founder of Andersen Press), Hilary Murray Hill (c.e.o. of Hachette Children’s Group) and Belinda Rasmussen, m.d. of Macmillan Children’s Books, Coleman said: “At BookTrust we want to get every child reading and for that we need a range of voices. There is a huge demand for books by writers and illustrators of colour and we are not meeting it. We want to be part of changing the story.”
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