The next step for the portrayal of diversity in children’s entertainment, is now to present to audiences with better subtlety, is the message taken home from a panel discussion on the topic of representation at London Book Fair this week.
On the the topic of what portrayal within children’s literature meant to them, panel members praised the increased awareness of diversity and its reflection in children’s books today, but stated that the next step was to “weave it into narrative” and make it as normal to “observe as it is in our daily lives.”
It was the panel session titled Diversity: Where’s the Issue?, chaired by the inclusion ambassador and activist, Heather Lacey that opened discussion up to panellists including Jay Hulme, inclusion ambassador and poet, Rose Robbins, inclusion ambassador and author-illustrator, Ade Adepitan, author, TV presenter and Paralympic Athlete and Cerrie Burnell, author, actor and TV presenter.
During the session, Burnell told the listening crowds that the awareness around diversity in the children’s literature being published today was fantastic to see, but that the next step was to make reading diversity as “normal as observing it when living and walking around London.”
Meanwhile, Robbins, whose first UK published book titled Me and My Sister details her experience growing up in a Neurodiverse household, stated that very few titles presented the topic of Neurodiversity of characters – a character with autism, for instance – from a perspective that wasn’t the parents, or as a plot device.
The question now is of how licensing can work to represent diversity to the same effect. To date, Charlotte Reed’s May the Thoughts be You has been praised for its approach to handling mental health awareness through branding and products, while Beano has made its own moves on promoting awareness of the topic for children.