Live literature organisation Speaking Volumes will today (13th March) launch a guide to British writers and illustrators of colour.
Breaking New Ground, created in partnership with BookTrust and Pop Up Projects, features a guide to 100 BAME authors and illustrators, with information about genres, regions and publishers, as well as essays about children’s and YA publishing. Among the creatives listed is 76-year-old Errol Lloyd, who was highly commended for the Kate Greenaway Medal in 1973 for My Brother Sean (Red Fox Picture Books), and 20-year-old Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, whose debut Ace of Spades will be published by Usborne Publishing in 2020.
Sharmilla Beezmohun, director of Speaking Volumes, said: “Against a backdrop of growing intolerance, racism and xenophobia, Breaking New Ground is our contribution to the wider campaign being waged across many fronts to change the lack of cultural inclusion and diversity in children and YA literature. We are pushing for a nationwide transformation for the authors and illustrators who get published to be as multicultural as the society we live in.”
BookTrust, which is supporting publication, said under 2% of the books published in the UK over the past 11 years were by British people of colour, according to research it carried out with University College London.
The project partners are printing a first run of 30,000 copies of the brochure that will be distributed for free to librarians, event programmers, literary agents, local authorities and publishers. BookTrust will also send a copy to every school in the UK.
Jill Coleman, director of BookTrust, said: “Books can act as windows for children, providing valuable insight into a broad spectrum of different lives and cultures. We know there is a wealth of talent within our industry, some of which remains untapped, so we want to support Breaking New Ground to put a spotlight on authors and illustrators of colour in the UK more widely, both within the publishing industry and beyond. This will give more children the chance to see themselves reflected in the books they read and among the people that make them.”
Speaking Volumes will launch Breaking New Ground at the Children’s Hub today (Wednesday 13th March) at 10am. Speakers include Beezmohun, Jill Coleman (director of children’s books at BookTrust), Dylan Calder (executive director at Pop Up Projects) and author Ken Wilson-Max.