A pop-up bookshop will come to Brixton tomorrow to promote greater diversity in children’s literature.
An Arts Council-funded report this year revealed only 1% of children’s books from 2017 had a black or minority ethnic protagonist, leading independent publisher Knights Of to launch the event with the slogan ‘read the one percent’.
Only 4% of children’s books featured a non-white character at all.
Knights Of co-founder David Stevens, 34, said one reason for these numbers may be the fact that there isn’t much diversity within the publishing industry itself.
He said: “It’s incredibly important to build empathy from an early age, and to be able to see as many different perspectives and types of viewpoints as humanly possible for any type of reader, whether they’re a kid or an adult.
“If you’re not getting access, you’re going to see an entirely homogeneous version of the world fed to you by high street retailers.
“If you don’t see it then you’re never going to be it.”
The company, which has just moved from Shoreditch to Brixton, decided on a pop-up so books could reach new places, going beyond the world of high street stores.
The shop will be at Coldharbour Lane from Wednesday 24 to Monday 29 October and will feature books from both mainstream and independent publishers, including Knights Of’s own titles.
Poet Joseph Coelho, mystery novelist Robin Stevens, and wheelchair basketball player and TV presenter Ade Adepitan will attend.
Mr Stevens co-founded Knights Of last year with Aimée Felone.
He said: “We worked together in scholastic and got slightly frustrated with the lack of representation on the shelf and in the books we were publishing, and also behind the scenes.
“We decided to try and make representation and diversity part of the DNA of the company.”
The publisher has only existed for a year but has published 2 children’s books and has many more in the pipeline.
Feature image shows Aimée Felone (left) and David Stevens.