BookTrust Represents: Research into representation of people of colour among children’s book authors and illustrators

Our mission is to get every child reading regularly and by choice, particularly by supporting children in low-income or vulnerable family backgrounds so every child can experience the lifelong benefits that reading brings. Since we began our research into the impact and representation of children’s creators of colour in the UK in 2019 we’ve seen steady progress – but there’s still a lot of work to do.

We know that representation is vital in helping motivate children to read. Diversity and representation in stories, characters and illustrations in children’s literature affect how young readers see themselves, different lives and cultures, and the world around them. Diverse, inclusive and representative children’s literature can ensure that children benefit from a richness of perspective, nuance in narrative and good stories from the earliest age.  

Within our mission to get children reading, BookTrust works on issues of representation and diversity through a range of interventions, partnerships and learning activities. These include our contribution to ensuring a representative body of children’s literature now and in the future, and ensuring that children have access to and engage with this literature.  

“I just feel excited and I feel good about myself. It actually tells me that I can do it as well and achieve my dreams.” 
- Year 7 student

Our latest research reports

We are committed to learning how we can best contribute to and sustain representation in children’s literature. This includes sharing two new reports:

  • The first is an independent study (led by Dr Melanie Ramdarshan Bold) which tracks the experiences and representation of creators of colour in UK children’s publishing. This is our third study on this theme since 2019.  
  • The second is an internal evaluation of a programme for schools which supports authors and illustrators of colour to engage with students via virtual and face-to-face events.  

These studies highlight the importance of strong, continued efforts to further improve representation in UK children’s literature both among creators and in the diversity of characters, stories and experiences represented and strengthen children’s engagement with diverse and representative books and stories.

We're also sharing our summary response to the research in a short paper summarises findings from these two studies and provides an overview of BookTrust’s contribution to strengthening representation in children’s literature.

Representation and inclusion is at the heart of our work to getting children reading. It informs how we select and review books, and how we co-create and design new approaches to supporting children on their reading journeys. BookTrust is committed to continuing our work to ensure the future of representation in children’s literature and children’s future engagement with inclusive books.

Go to the reports

BookTrust Represents: Schools Support Evaluation Report

BookTrust Represents: Representation of People of Colour Among Children's Book Creators in the UK - 2022 

Read our summary response to the findings

Read the news story

Other reports

Reflecting Realities

Read CLPE's research on ethnic representation of characters in children's literature

Read BookTrust’s research with UCL on representation of people of colour among children's book creators 

More research


BookTrust Represents

Our project promotes and supports children’s authors and illustrators of colour, so young readers find the books that represent them.

Learn more about BookTrust Represents