#BlackLivesMatter: creating a diverse library of Touch to See books
June 16, 2020

People from BAME backgrounds are widely under-represented in the world of children’s literature. It’s believed that “over the past 11 years, fewer than 2% of all authors and/or illustrators of children’s books published in the UK were from British people of colour.” (Book Trust). Additionally, a study for the Centre of Literacy for Primary education found that “of 9,115 children’s books published in the UK in 2017 only 391 featured BAME characters”.

As an charity that values inclusion above all else, Living Paintings is proud to support the #BlackLivesMatter movement. To do this, we will continue to explore ways in which we can ensure blind children of colour are represented in the books they read, and continue to diversify our catalogue with children’s books written and illustrated by people from BAME backgrounds. Whilst we currently have titles in our Touch to See library by black authors and illustrators, or featuring children of colour, we know that we can, and should, do more.

Which is why we are continuing to research and seek funding to adapt picture books such as Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love (Walker Books), and The Mega Magic Hair Swap by Rochelle Humes, illustrated by Rachel Suzanne. Books that not only attempt to deal with issues of race and discrimination, but that also tell stories of inspiring, fun, daring, creative protagonists from BAME backgrounds, not just white backgrounds.

Our hope is that our library of Touch to See books for blind children becomes as diverse and inclusive as possible so that it represents every corner of our wonderfully rich, multicultural and multiracial society. We will continue to educate ourselves, listen to the voices of people of colour and speak out against racism.

As ever, we are open to suggestions, feedback or questions. So please get in touch about this or any other issue. Perhaps you have a suggestion of a book for us to adapt, which features characters from a diverse range of backgrounds? Or you think we should check out a particular author or illustrator? Please email library@livingpaintings.org or call us on 01635 299771.

To borrow any of our current Touch to See books, which feature characters from BAME backgrounds, please click the links below:

Handa’s Hen by Eileen Browne

Handas's Hen book cover

For Every Child (The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child) by Caroline Castle

For every child book cover

Amazing Grace by Mary Hoffman, illustrated by Caroline Binch

A tactile image from Amazing Grace of Grace dancing

Handa’s Surprise by Eileen Browne

Tactile picture of an ostrich and Handa from Living Paintings' Handa's Surprise

Yoga Babies (coming soon) by Fearne Cotton, illustrated by Sheena Dempsey

Tactile picture from Yoga Babies showing two toddleres and a cat doing yoga poses


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