Every primary school in England is to receive a free copy of Happy Here (Knights Of), a new anthology by 20 Black British writers and illustrators, as part of an initiative to improve teaching practices and improve representation in children's literature and publishing.
The initiative is part of a wider long-term programme of research and activity led by the children’s reading charity BookTrust and the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE).
Published by inclusive publisher Knights Of, Happy Here includes stories and poems which explore themes of joy, home and family through a wide range of genres and styles.
BookTrust and CLPE are also supporting schools with a range of resources and events designed to help teachers. Schools are invited to attend a free online event with children's author Joseph Coelho, hosted by BookTrust on 13th October as part of Black History Month.
CLPE is also providing a free teaching sequence for Key Stage 2, to support schools in the study of Happy Here as part of their literacy curriculum, in addition to delivering online sessions for teachers to learn more about the importance of representation in the classroom.
BookTrust has provided an additional 50 free copies of the anthology to 100 schools with a minimum of 25% of pupils receiving free school meals.
The Happy Here initiative follows the publication in 2020 of BookTrust Represents’ interim research and CLPE’s annual Reflecting Realities Survey of Ethnic Representation within UK Children’s Literature, which highlighted the underrepresentation of children’s authors and illustrators of colour, and of minority ethnic characters within children’s books, respectively.
CLPE reported that 10% of children’s books feature characters from a Black, Asian or minority ethnic background, and BookTrust Represents found the number of authors and illustrators of colour published in the UK standing at just 8% of the total number published. This is despite 33.5% of primary school aged children in England who are from a minority ethnic background.
Jill Coleman, director of Children’s Books at BookTrust said: “Books can shape the way that children think about themselves and others. All children should be able to see themselves in the books they read and have the opportunity to read inspiring, engaging and inclusive stories by authors and illustrators that are representative of the society we live in. BookTrust is delighted to be able to be working with CLPE to provide resources and support to empower teachers and primary schools whilst also offering a platform for emerging talent and future role models."
Farrah Serroukh, Learning Programmes leader at CLPE, said: “We know teachers are always seeking creative and engaging ways to give children a rich and broad learning experience. We also know that a key part of this involves providing access to high quality, inspiring, inclusive and representative stories in the classroom and on the bookshelves. The Happy Here collection and the accompanying bank of resources embody the underpinning principles of our Reflecting Realities work and are designed to support teachers in fulfilling these aims by centring high quality literature at the heart of all learning.”
The fourth annual CLPE Reflecting Realities Survey of Ethnic Representation within UK Children’s Literature, evaluating representation in children’s books published in the UK in 2020, will be published in November. The next BookTrust Represents research study into the representation of people of colour among children’s book creators in the UK will be published in autumn 2022.
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