UK study reveals only 4% of children’s books feature a BAME character
In the UK, a new report has found that only 4% of children’s books published in the UK in 2017 featured black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) characters, and only 1% of the books submitted for assessment had a BAME main character.
Commissioned by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE), the ‘Reflecting Realities’ report surveyed 9115 children’s books published in the UK last year, and found that only 391 (4%) featured BAME characters. These low percentages of BAME characters represented on the page are in stark contrast to the Department of Education’s 2017 findings that 32% of the pupils of compulsory school age in England are of minority ethnic origins.
Researchers also found that more than half the fiction books with BAME characters were defined as ‘contemporary realism’, 10% of books with BAME characters contained ‘social justice’ issues, and just one book featuring a BAME character was defined as ‘comedy’. The study noted that 25% of the books submitted only featured BAME presence in the form of background characters
The study, which will be produced annually, concluded that for change to happen, addressing these imbalances in representation ‘is not an act of charity but an act of necessity that benefits and enriches all of our realities’. ‘Energies must be invested into normalising and making mainstream the breadth and range of realities that exist within our classrooms and society in order for all children to feel valued and entitled to occupy the literary space.’
Farrah Serroukh, project director CLPE, who presented the report to publishers on 16 July told the Guardian: ‘Hopefully in 10 years’ time, or however long, it will become redundant. We are really keen for the UK market to develop a more nuanced conversation. We don’t want to be talking about volume in three years’ time, but about quality.’
To read the full report, click here.