CLPE Reflecting Realities - Survey of Ethnic Representation within UK Children’s Literature 2017-2022 (November 2022)
This is the fifth Reflecting Realities report and it was published in November 2022 (focused on diversity and inclusion in children's books).
The annual CLPE survey, which is funded by Arts Council England, launched in 2017 with the key focus of determining the extent and quality of ethnic minority characters featured within Picturebooks, Fiction and Non-Fiction for ages 3–11 published in the UK. The five years of reporting provide benchmark statistics which have seen a sustained increase in the number and percentage of books that contain characters from racially minoritised backgrounds; a standard which is vital in ensuring all young readers have the opportunity to encounter books in which they can see themselves, their experience and the wider world reflected.
The data released in the report continues to show sustained and significant increase in ethnic minority representation in children’s books. The key points are:
- The annual survey produced by CLPE documents the proportion of children’s books that contain characters from an ethnic minority and has been a key driver and support for meaningful change, transforming the volume of representative and inclusive literature available to young readers in the UK.
- Annual reporting shows an increase in the number of children’s books published featuring a minority ethnic character from 4% in 2017 to 20% in 2021.
- The percentage of books published with a main character from a racially minoritised background has risen year on year but remains extremely low at 9% in 2021.
- Representation in Fiction remains low and lags significantly behind increases in Picturebooks and Non-Fiction.
CEO of CLPE Louise Johns-Shepherd, said of the next steps: ‘We are delighted to see the upward trend in numbers, we are determined that it won’t be a ‘trend’ that disappears or that dips. We will continue to do this work and to support ongoing dialogue within the publishing industry because we believe in the power of children’s literature to change lives and we believe inclusive representative casts of characters in children’s literature make books better.’
Sarah Crown, Director, Literature, Arts Council England said: "We know that a child's life chances are improved by their access to and enjoyment of quality literature, and that their engagement with literature is improved when they can see themselves and their experiences reflected in a meaningful way. In 5 years the CLPE Reflecting Realities survey has provided data and analysis which has lead to a quantifiable improvement in representation of Black, Asian and ethnically diverse characters in children's literature. Thanks to National Lottery funding, the Arts Council is pleased to continue to support the survey and CLPE whilst it works towards providing more support for publishers, teachers and wider stakeholders to effect real and lasting change."
Read our blog Reflecting Realities, the methodology behind the report by Farrah Serroukh and Louise Johns-Shepherd
Illustrations © Diane Ewen and reproduced with her kind permission.
Booklet design: Ben Cotterill