Knights Of has partnered with children’s reading charity BookTrust and the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) to publish Happy Here, an anthology for middle grade readers.
The anthology is aimed at children aged seven plus and will feature an introduction from Sharna Jackson, and include stories and poems exploring themes of joy, home and family through a wide range of genres and style.
Contributors include Dean Atta, Joseph Coelho, Kereen Getten, Patrice Lawrence, Theresa Lola, E L Norry, Jasmine Richards, Alexandra Sheppard, Yomi Ṣode and Clare Weze.
Each author has been paired with a different illustrator to spotlight Black British artistic talent. Illustrators include Olivia Twist, Selom Sunu, Camilla Ru, Dorcas, Mo Fadera, Chanté Timothy, Wumi "Wumzum" Olaosebikan, Onyinye Iwu, Lucy Farfort and Will Kay.
Last year saw the publication of BookTrust Represents Interim Research and CLPE’s Reflecting Realities Survey of Ethnic Representation within UK Children’s Literature, which highlighted the under-representation of children’s authors and illustrators of colour, and of minority ethnic characters within children’s books, respectively. Working with Knights Of, the bodies aim to help directly redress this imbalance to ensure that children across the UK can see themselves reflected in the books and authors they read.
On this project, BookTrust will provide a free copy of the anthology to every primary school in England and, in partnership with CLPE, will create and distribute free curriculum resources. It will also sponsor author events for schools to support the book, along with a programme of ongoing professional development for teachers to broaden the scope of literature taught in schools.
Aimée Felone, co-founder at Knights Of, said: "Being able to commission work that has no motive other than to amplify, uplift and celebrate what it means to exist in the UK today as a Black British person is liberating for our team. Each and every author and illustrator has focused not on the trauma or hardship of their existence, which is too often highlighted in children’s fiction, but the experience and possibility of happiness for their characters.
"Working alongside BookTrust and CLPE, organisations committed to equipping children, parents, teachers and librarians across England with books to increase literacy, learning and understanding, has been inspiring. As partners on Happy Here, it is encouraging to know that these stories and resources will reach children everywhere.”
Jill Coleman, director of children’s books at BookTrust, added: "Happy Here is going to thrill and inspire children in families and schools across the country, and we want to make sure it is read by thousands of children. We are proud to be working with Knights Of and CLPE as part of our effort to drive a long-term, sustainable increase in the diversity of voices published in children’s literature."
Happy Here will be published on 5th August 2021.