From school books to publishing, black girls deserve better representation

Black and mixed ethnicity girls are more likely to read than any
other ethnic group. So why are there so few books for them?

As a child, I remember spending most nights sneaking on my bedside lamp so I could stay up reading past bed time. I would do this at home, at sleepovers, and occasionally, when I could get away with it, in class. I found books feverishly difficult to put down, prone to obsessively repeating the mantra, “just one more page”.

Findings from a 2014 study by the National Literacy Trust show that black and mixed ethnicity girls between the ages of eight and 18, girls like I was, are more likely to read than any other ethnic group in the UK. Over 50% claim to read outside of class every day, and they’re also more likely to have a favourite book. An impressive 16% of black girls polled responded that they had read over ten books in the past month, something I imagine I could have also claimed quite comfortably a decade ago, but would find it impossible to admit to since reaching my twenties.

My old fervour for reading has waned in adulthood. I can speculate why this is: where some read books to escape into other worlds and other people, I’ve always preferred books that reflect what’s local, what I know and relate to. But as a black girl, and now woman, books rarely serve as a mirror for my experiences.

 

Read the full piece piece on NewStatesman.