Losing yourself in a book is one of life’s greatest pleasures and encouraging this love of reading from an early age is hands down one of the biggest gifts you can give your child. Reading sparks imagination, encourages empathy and helps children understand the world around them, but what happens when the world they see in books looks nothing like the world they live in?
It’s no secret that children’s books have a serious issue when it comes to a lack of diversity, with just five per cent of children’s books published in the UK in 2019 featuring a main character who was black, asian or minority ethic – completely at odds with the 33.5 per cent of UK primary school children from a BAME background.
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But the importance of representation cannot be stressed enough. “Books play an important role in shaping children’s lives,” explains Jill Coleman, director of children’s books at BookTrust. “These stories and characters will affect how they see themselves and the world around them, their motivation to read and their aspirations to become authors and illustrators of the future.”
Thankfully, filling your child’s bookshelf with literature that celebrates the whole spectrum of life is slowly getting easier, with publishers and authors embracing a more realistic representation of the world, whether that’s reflecting racial diversity, normalising disabilities, including all sexualities or challenging gender stereotypes.
From cute picture books for toddlers up to reading books for pre-teens, we’ve found the best books that help shape your children’s understanding of the world by celebrating diversity in all its forms.
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