28 January 2015 saw children’s book publishers coming together with booksellers, teachers, librarians and other key partners to turn discussions around inclusion and diversity into action.  

One of several practical outcomes of this innovative event was the development of a new diversity and inclusion charter, currently open for consultation.

The event (A Place at the Table) was organised by Inclusive Minds, the Publishers Association, the IPG and EQUIP. 

Loosely based on a successful US event run by the Children’s Book Council, through their diversity initiative, CBC Diversity, it took the form of a 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 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.

The artists posed a series of questions to the participants to discuss around tables.  Questions ranged 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 industry. 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 the key is now to 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. 

A final draft of the proposed charter is to be announced in The Bookseller by early March 2015. Versions are also being developed for booksellers, libraries and schools.   All interested parties are encouraged to feed into the process of developing the charters.

Anyone interested should contact Inclusive Minds to see a draft copy.