Publishers and booksellers with an interest in diverse children’s books can from today (13th March) sign up to two new charters created by Inclusive Minds.
A collective run by Alexandra Strick and Beth Cox, Inclusive Minds is publishing two “Everybody In” charters—one for publishers and one for booksellers—that list practical ways to make books more inclusive and diverse.
“The charters represent a way for publishers and booksellers to demonstrate how inclusively minded they are, and offer real and practical ways of ensuring change,” said Strick.
The charters recognise all facets of diversity—race and heritage, disability, gender and gender identity, sexual orientation, age, socioeconomic status, religion and culture—and “acknowledge points such as the need to carry out research to ensure authenticity [and] the importance of including diverse books right across the mainstream landscape”, said Cox.
Both charters feature two categories of commitments, core and supplementary. Core commitments for publishers include auditing current lists to evaluate diversity and training staff to ensure books are authentically diverse. Supplementary commitments include seeking out authors from diverse groups, or including information about inclusion on submission guidelines.
Core commitments for booksellers include auditing their book stock and ensuring staff are aware of inclusive books available, while secondary commitments include seeking out publishers of diverse material.
The charters are available online via the new Everybody In website (www.everybodyin.co.uk).To sign up, publishers and booksellers are required to pledge to pursue one core and two supplementary commitments from the charters, and then send Inclusive Minds a statement demonstrating how they will work towards fulfilling those requirements.Two further charters, for librarians and educators, will be published at a later date.
Organisations that sign up to the scheme will be listed on the Everybody In website and will be able to use an “Everybody In Books—We’re Inclusively Minded” logo on their own website and literature. They will also be part of a “powerful network” that “shares the commitment to improve diversity and inclusion”, said an Inclusive Minds statement.
Strick and Cox were inspired to launch the charters in part by the Children’s Book Council Diversity Initiative in the US and developed the charters with the Publishers Association (PA), the Independent Publishers Guild and Equip. They then discussed the drafts with industry figures, including representatives from major publishers such as Egmont and Penguin, at an event at the PA headquarters in January, entitled “A Place at the Table”.
One publisher that is publicly supporting the campaign is Usborne. Anna Howorth, marketing manager, said: “Usborne books are already well-respected for their inclusivity and we shall continue to do all we can in this area to ensure that all children are represented in the books they read. We are happy to be part of such a positive campaign and to be working alongside industry colleagues to make further progress.”
Cox was also keen to stress that the charters are an ongoing collaborative process. “While there has already been wide consultation, the charters are not set in stone and will continue to be regularly reviewed, so further feedback is still very welcome.”