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  • Jun
    15
    2020

Representation: It's not that hard.

Representation: It's not that hard.
I’ve been ruminating on diverse representation in kids TV. How wonderful Cbeebies programmes are. It has been proven that kids watch whatever they find engaging, could be Go Jetters, Yakka Dee or Swashbuckle. And remember Sesame Street was conceived as a teaching tool to reach out to a diverse crowd of children possibly living in underfunded areas. So diverse - people with different skin colours, characters with various disabilities. It became a worldwide sensation that still endures 50 years later.

So why doesn’t this translate to children’s books? Time and again we have heard stories of rejection of books and stories about and by people of colour. Why?

We know Black people and other people of colour read, we know they buy books for their kids. We also know white people want to diversify their bookshelf too: google searches and chat topics on mumsnet and parent facebook groups are choc full of “Where can I buy diverse books?”.

So where are they?

Are the established publishing companies inherently racist or they are horribly assumptive about their readers? Or just lazy?

So I say this: Do better. Do better guys, get on the case. Give us what we have been begging for all his time. I want Puffin, Nosy Crow, Usborne, Bloomsbury and all the rest to say: this year we are making books ONLY about Black people, people of colour, or Muslims, or disabled people, or LGBT+ families and other marginalised groups.

That’s the only reason we started Parakeet Books. Literally. We just thought, sod it we’ll do it ourselves. And to be honest it’s not easy because bookshops only want publishers with distribution deals and distributors only want to deal with the big cheeses.

By Sheju Adiyatiparambil John

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