Schools Evaluation Report
At BookTrust, we believe all children should be able to see their experiences and communities reflected in the books they read. This report draws on what teachers, pupils, and authors have told us about their experiences of participating in BookTrust Represents.
“I really liked being able to see an author in real life and I think he is a really inspiring person. He has inspired me to write a story of my own and to try and publish it.” - Year 5 student from Ipswich
Books are powerful. They offer windows looking into new experiences, mirrors into our own lives, and sliding doors into new worlds. Great stories can spark creativity, capture imaginations, provide joy, and offer moments for escapism. We also know that reading brings profound and wide-ranging benefits that can have a lifelong positive impact on children’s lives.
Diversity in children’s books
We believe children should have access to a wide range of books and stories. Whatever a child’s interest, age, or reading ability, there are stories that can capture their attention, and we need to ensure children have the opportunity to find these stories. We also know books prepare children for life.
When books are windows, children see people, worlds, and experiences removed from their own. These books build bridges of understanding across racial, cultural, and identity differences by nurturing empathy and compassion.
When books are mirrors, children find themselves in the stories they read. This process helps children form meaningful connections with books, making reading itself a more enjoyable experience. Relatability in a story also boosts self-esteem and can shape children’s perceptions of themselves and who they aspire to be.
However, many children may find it hard to access diverse literature at school or at home, meaning they may miss out on a richness of perspective, a nuance in narrative and, ultimately, good stories.
BookTrust’s Family Survey found that 11% of children aged 7-17-years-old said not being able to find books they can relate to stops them from reading.
In addition, Penguin’s Lit in Colour report found that less than 1% of candidates for GCSE English Literature answered a question on a novel by an author of colour, while 52% of 11–18-year-olds agreed that the English Literature curriculum did not reflect the diversity of British society.
These findings highlight a lack of representation of creators of colour in the texts children access at school.
In 2019, BookTrust commissioned research to establish a clear picture of who writes and illustrates the books children read. This report found that between 2007 and 2017, 8.62% of children’s book creators were people of colour, and only 1.96% were British people of colour. Authors cited complex and multifaceted barriers to inclusive publishing, many of which compound to create a negative cycle. When children don’t see themselves in the books they read, they are less likely to see creating books as a viable career. For those that do aspire to create books, challenges in accessing publishing and sustainability in the sector mean people of colour remain underrepresented in children’s books.
This report explores the reach and impact of BookTrust Represents over the last year. It assesses the extent to which the programme delivers on its key aims, and maps out how this programme currently fits within the school climate.
- Report: Representation of people of colour among children's book creators in the UK - 2022
- Our summary report
- Read the blog: “Giving students books that literally mirror what they are going through is so impactful for them”
- Read the news story: New findings from BookTrust shine a spotlight on representation in children’s books and its impact on children’s motivations to read
Our research and evaluation helps us to continually learn about how to inspire children to read for pleasure. Explore research and reports across early years, primary, secondary and wider reading for pleasure. Find out what impact our programmes have on children and families.