A new subscription service for diverse and inclusive children’s books has launched in the UK.
Former Great Ormond Street Hospital employee Lynsey Pollard set up Little Box of Books because she struggled to find titles that reflected her family set-up. “I was a single mum to a now four-year-old and I couldn’t find any books with families like ours. Now my son has a step-dad and those stories are hard to find, too. Waterstones doesn’t index books in that way so when I would ask for books about single parents or step-dads they would say they didn’t know if they had any. I thought there was a business opportunity.”
Prices start from £18.99 for a month by month subscription, for which the buyer gets two books, learning guides, puzzles, a reading record and a free gift. Or they can pay for a six-month subscription for four books, plus the extras, which works out at £26.00 per month. For every box bought, one title will be donated to Doorstep Library, which gives books to children in disadvantaged areas of London.
Buyers can sign up via the website and receive 10% off their first order using the code WELCOME10.
“There are so many wonderful initiatives out there to publish diverse books but they need to reach readers,” said Pollard. “We want to sell books to people who aren’t necessarily looking for ‘diverse books’, they just want great books to read.”
Pollard selects the books herself but takes recommendations from publishers and sales reps, and will consider self-published titles if they fit the brief. She then tests the books with a local school in Brixton before deciding which ones to put in the boxes.
“We want to build up our subscribers to show publishers we need more diverse books,” she added. “There could be more books where the mum has a job, and stories about children in wheelchairs still feel very niche. Girls in headscarves are still not made the protagonists of stories unless that story is about their religion or culture. They are not allowed to be just children and do normal, childhood things.”
The launch of Little Box of Books comes a week after a study revealed that only 4% of all the children’s books published in the UK last year featured a black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) character.
The study was carried out by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education, which said only 391 of the 9,115 children’s books published last year had a BAME character, and only 1% of the books had a BAME main character.