A Place at the Table
Wednesday January 28 saw children’s book publishers coming together with booksellers, teachers, librarians and other key partners for a unique event aimed at turning discussions around inclusion and diversity into action.
A Place at the Table was organised by Inclusive Minds, the Publishers Association, the IPG and EQUIP.
The event took the form of highly innovative workshop aimed at helping the children’s book community to agree a clear way forward in terms of achieving real inclusion. The event was facilitated by the organisers together with a team of children’s book writers and illustrators with particular interest and experience in the subject – James Dawson, Jane Ray, Ken Wilson-Max, Susie Day, Pippa Goodhart and Anna McQuinn.
After an initial introduction, participants moved to one of six tables and the artists posed a series of questions to them, ranging from the importance of access to inclusive and diverse books, to ideas for practical and commercially sound strategies to ensure that more books are produced. The roundtable rather than traditional conference format was key – allowing the participants to truly consider their role in creating a more inclusive book world. They voiced a vast range of experiences and ideas, and were evidently united in sharing a commitment to ensuring books reflect a more diverse society.
Organisers and participants alike agreed that there is a need to turn the discussion to action and maintain the momentum so, in addition to the round table activity, participants created concrete action points to take away with them and apply within their sector. They also started developing a new ‘Everybody In’ Charter an inclusion and diversity charter for the children’s publishing industry. Attendees are continuing to feed into the charter, and the final version will be announced in The Bookseller in late February or early March. Versions are also being developed for booksellers, libraries and schools. Anyone interested in feeding into the charters or discussing the next steps for this activity should contact us.
Attendees agreed that A Place at the Table represented a valuable step forward in the move towards real inclusion in children’s books.
The format was based on the successful event held in the US by the nonprofit trade association, the Children’s Book Council, through their diversity initiative, CBC Diversity. One review of which stated that ‘by providing a space for people to connect across disciplines, the event allowed new kinds of synergies to arise.’