Inclusive Minds is assembling a group of young “ambassadors” to encourage more diversity in children’s books, as it prepares to make a second promotional push for its “Everybody In” charters.
Alexandra Strick, who set up Inclusive Minds with Beth Cox, said the idea behind the ambassador scheme is two-fold. “We aim to find ways to give [young people] a voice through media opportunities. However, it’s about practical steps as well, so we also want to find ways of bringing them together with book creators, to offer inspiration and share their experience.”
The 25 ambassadors are children and their parents who want more diversity in publishing. One ambassador, nine-year-old Reuben Rafferty, has already spoken on “Newsround” and at the London Book Fair about the need for mixed-race protagonists, for example.
Some of the ambassadors are keen to see more disabled characters in books, while others have experiences with visual impairment, deafness, Down’s Syndrome and autism, said Strick.
Next month, Inclusive Minds will also start a new wave of campaigning for its Everybody In charters, launched in March this year. So far only nine publishers (and only one big publisher— Usborne) have pledged to commit to publishing diversely by signing up to the charter, even though representatives from most of the major publishing houses took part in a meeting about the charters earlier in the year.
Strick is planning a social media campaign and a second social media push in November, but said she has seen some signs of more diverse publishing in recent months. “There are small, anecdotal examples of positive changes all the time. Publishers are keen to action this and action it in the right way.”
However, she thinks they still have some way to go. “We’d really like children’s books to start better reflecting the fact that, for example, at least one in 10 children worldwide is disabled, and in the UK, one in every four children in state education is from an ethnic minority. Also, 25,000 children in the UK have same-sex parents. There are 35 different family types in the UK alone.”