Oxford University Press has joined Penguin Random House's Lit in Colour campaign to help schools create a more representative reading experience in the classroom.
Launched last year by PRH, alongside race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust, the programme aims to support schools in diversifying the teaching of English literature and to increase students’ access to books by writers of colour and from minority ethnic backgrounds. Pearson and exam board OCR have also recently joined.
Research will soon be published by Lit in Colour analysing the barriers preventing more diverse texts from being taught in the classroom, including views from teachers, parents, and young people, in order to inform practical recommendations for change.
OUP said it will be providing free practical support and tools for both primary school teachers and parents to increase confidence in teaching and discussing a more representative range of books. Resources will include a school planning toolkit to help teachers review their current provision and approach to reading, along with reading lists and a free series of podcasts and blog articles from a diverse range of authors and experts.
Schools across the country will also be invited to take part in a reading project with a selection of diverse independent reading titles and to take part in a research and impact study. This will include inviting schools already taking part in Puffin World of Stories, a programme created by PRH and the National Literacy Trust to promote reading for pleasure and diversify book collections in primary schools. OUP will also work closely with other Lit in Colour supporting partners, including the National Literacy Trust, and provide strategic oversight and guidance via a newly created Primary Lit in Colour steering committee.
The publisher added that it has committed to greater diversity through its publishing and its work with teachers, parents, authors, illustrators and partners across its school-age portfolio and from early years to 18. Its focus is to help schools by supporting the important work they are doing to embrace diversity and inclusion in every classroom.
Vivek Govil, m.d. of OUP’s UK education division, said: "As the world’s largest university press, reflecting and celebrating the diversity of the thousands of classrooms we support right across the globe is hugely important. We’re delighted to be partnering with Lit in Colour and The Runnymede Trust to further our proactive role in opening up the conversation and taking positive, practical steps to encourage diverse reading and learning experiences in school and at home. The more we can increase the range of authors and books young people have access to, and study, throughout their education the more we can inspire and empower them to share and develop their own knowledge and understanding. We are committed to our aim that all young people, as well as teachers and parents, see themselves reflected in the books and resources they use.”
Zaahida Nabagereka, Lit in Colour programme manager, added: “The love of reading and stories starts in early childhood, so with OUP coming on board as a named partner we will be building a strategy around widening representation in books for primary school education. This is integral to Lit in Colour, as we know there is a drop off in reading habits between primary and secondary school. Our partnership with OUP gives us the opportunity to expand our impact in this area.”
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