APATT 2018 Report - Appendix 2

Notes from Question 2 of the Roundtable discussions

The children’s book world has come a long way in terms of diversity and inclusion in the past few years. What barriers still exist to authentic inclusion in the content of children’s books? (Think about your role or industry rather than elsewhere in the chain.)

Assumptions about markets – who buys them?

Non-diverse staff

Slow turnover of staff

Snobbery about content

Tick boxes and tokenism

Concerns about “own voices”

Socioeconomic barriers to entering industry

Foreign co-editions censorious (solution – be less concerned about co-editions as relatively few books will sell that well overseas)

You can’t say that in a children’s book vs what my teen daughter is reading

Tickboxing is not enough

Books commercially driven

Established industry so it can be difficult to make changes

There are a lot of people to convince about a book

-could be new approaches to marketing eg school

Schools: focus on attainment

-Reading for Pleasure; more funding for school librarians (assume re: better knowledge about what books are available)

Libraries: limited by buying consortia- more difficult to acquire titles by smaller publishers

Being pigeon-holed as diverse

     Need to challenge this

Finding authors/ illustrators

Look elsewhere for new manuscripts – non traditional routes to the arts, shifting barriers to show other ways in

Ie mentoring (fight no time for nurturing)

Instability of careers

Funding can be unstable- lottery funded eg ACE

Small publishers think outside of box in terms of funders- crowd-funding, faith-based funders

Bookshops can be intimidating- take book events where the readers are

We didn’t have the language to talk about who we are –

all characters integrated in the story

non-binary – different ways of being human

People are afraid to ask questions

Fear of scrutiny

Library staff scared or unsure of diverse books

Fear of doing the wrong thing / PC culture fear of inapropriateness /fear of offending people/ ‘finger-pointing blame culture’, nervousness

Fear of the unknown/different

Fear leads to self- censorship

Lack of ways to meet the talent

Current channels don’t open up to inclusive pathways

Some publishers not willing to take risk

Some people aren’t forward thinking

Middle grade fiction often misses out

Perceived barriers and actual barriers –can’t see yourself  so you think it’s not for you; this is a brutal industry if you aren’t used to that kind of feedback

LGBT characters not done badly in children’s books just not enough of them

For queer and gender variant children teenagers and adults to see themselves and their relationships in books

Dehumanising if all about the body not the person

Massive assumptions that BAME people won’t buy books

Lack of understanding of how publishing works

Workforce is undiverse, publishing workforce is homogenous

Becomes an echo chamber


Subliminal prejudice

Needs demystifying

Geographical barriers

Financial risks of going into publishing limits the voices that work in publishing

Creating awareness within communities that lack diversity

Mainly still white women talking to white women

Nervous of inappropriateness

Fear of getting it wrong –danger of cliché and focus on stereotypes- get it checked

Publishing is a secret society

Lack of funding for libraries

Not looking for those voices

Waterstones’ sales


International market

Finding diverse voices

Financial barriers

Unconcious bias

Attitude toward libraries

Starting salaries low

Reduced provision of libraries

Not knowing where to start

Entry not transparent


Unpaid internships

Shifting blame onto sellers/ agents/publishing

Publishers struggle to find voices

Supply chain (detail not in our notes, but remember someone mentioning influencing book buying  in libraries challenge because of collective – buying, librarians may not be able to be autonomous, in same vein, are diverse books available through say, Peters or Gardners)

Mention of swaps purely on based on title- Two Boys Kissing

Fear of offending others

It won’t sell

Knowing where to look for non-mainstream published books