The principle behind the network of Inclusion Ambassadors is to give young people aged 8 to 30 with a wide range of experiences, identities and backgrounds the chance to have input on children’s books. The network aims to connect authors and illustrators with willing members of the network to work together on the development of new books. Thus book creators can gain valuable insights and experience to help them to develop really authentic representation.

We urge publishers and book creators to consult the network at as early a stage as possible, in order to involve those with direct knowledge and experience in books from the start.

The following key points should be noted:

  • Inclusive Minds is a very small and busy team, and much of our work is unfunded.  
  • Connections  with members of the Ambassador network are made via Inclusive Minds. However, input from members of the network does not include a read by one of the core Inclusive Minds team unless separately commissioned to do so (see notes on Inclusion Reads below).
  • The views of an Inclusion Ambassador will usually only represent one person’s experience. One Ambassador cannot be expected to represent the views/experiences of many or all.
  • Feedback from an Inclusion Ambassador, especially when it happens late in the book creation process, aims simply to add an extra perspective (or ideally several) to what we hope are many other forms of research and consultation that an author will want to carry out during the development of a book.
  • When an Inclusion Ambassador is involved in sharing their experience to help an author with a book, neither they nor Inclusive Minds have any control over what comments are taken on board by the author or publisher, particularly when this takes place late in the publishing process.  
  • Where an Inclusion Ambassador is involved in giving any input on a book, we generally accept offers to credit them (and Inclusive Minds for introducing them to the author or publisher). Whilst we are grateful for such acknowledgements in any books, this doesn’t constitute an endorsement or partnership of any kind; it is incredibly rare for us to endorse a book.

Are Inclusion Ambassadors sensitivity readers?

Inclusion Ambassadors are not sensitivity readers, and are not promoted as such. They are simply young people with lived experience and a passion for authentic inclusion in books. Sensitivity reading usually happens quite late on in the publishing process, and whilst input can still be useful at a later stage, if there is a fundamental or larger issue, it can be very hard to rectify at this point. Dramatically changing a book that is already nearing completion would be problematic, if not impossible, and could result in either a rewrite, and delayed publication, or only minimal changes being taken on board to do the best that can be done in the situation.

An additional note on Inclusion Reads

Inclusive Minds can also offer inclusion reads, which take place at copyediting stage. These are not sensitivity reads, as they are carried out by someone with an awareness of many different facets of diversity and inclusion, although not necessarily direct experience. These kind of reads aim to pick out aspects of a book that can slip in as a result of unconscious bias (and if the book is an inclusive one, in areas that may not be the main facet addressed in the book) – such as negative language, problematic descriptions of characters, and aspects that perpetuate stereotypes.

We advise publishers and authors to connect with Inclusion Ambassadors early in the process, in order to gain plenty of input from someone with direct experience and ensure authentic representation. In addition to this we also suggest commissioning an inclusion read later in the publishing process for a wider overview of the book. Inclusion reads need to be booked well in advance to ensure we have capacity to carry them out.