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Lloyd’s Books appeal: the importance of BAME characters in children’s literature

POSTED July 15, 2020

Before the pandemic, we had more than 300 pupils in Tower Hamlets taking part in the Lloyd’s Community Programme ‘Reading and Number partner scheme’ every week. While sessions have been halted for the time being, volunteers and companies in the Lloyd’s market have continued to support these pupils, and through our Books and Puzzles appeal, over £10k was raised to provide them with fun resources to help fill the ‘academic void’ facing many primary school children.  

In sourcing the books for our pupils, we were reminded  how rarely children’s literature features people from non-white groups. Even where they are represented, it is usually in the context of discussing cultural differences and even oppression. 54% of Tower Hamlets are from BAME groups (GLA, 2016), and the lack of people who look like them may hold young people back from identifying with a character in a story, and even propagate the subtle message that it’s not normal to be non-white. This is not a new problem and we applaud campaigns such as  #WeNeedDiverseBooks  which calls for more fictional characters who happen to be black and ‘The Black Curriculum‘ which calls for black history to be taught in schools. 

We felt it was important to spend the extra time sourcing stories and authors that would inspire and represent all the children on the reading partner scheme. Our favourites included:  

If you wish to buy your child a book written by and about BAME individuals, here are some relevant links to discover more: 

https://www.penguin.co.uk/puffin/tamarind.html

https://www.penguin.co.uk/articles/children/2019/jun/childrens-books-with-black-characters.html

https://peters.co.uk/bame-reads-for-primary-schools

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