A brand-new drive has been launched in Manchester to help schools promote wider diversity in children’s literature.

The ‘See Myself in Books’ project aims to vary the literacy resources in primary schools and promote ethnic diversity through the books children read. It’s the latest project from Read Manchester, the council’s joint campaign with the National Literacy Trust to improve reading skills across the city and encourage reading for pleasure.

Read Manchester will collaborate with twenty-four schools across the city. Half the schools taking part have a pupil population where over 95% of pupils are from an ethnically diverse background and the other half of the schools have much lower levels of ethnic diversity so that children from all backgrounds can see diverse representation in books.

The project will demonstrate the importance of diversity in reading and illustration and how important it is for children to see themselves reflected in the books they read. National Literacy Trust research conducted in 2020 showed that 39.8% of children said that they would like more books with characters that are similar to them. The report also uncovered that more children and young people from ethnic minority backgrounds than white backgrounds say that they do not see themselves represented in what they read.

Read this BBC article on our initiative and for more information about the impact of the lack of diversity in children’s books.

Schools participating in See Myself in Books will receive a free collection of 25 books celebrating diversity and will also be offered free library and online sessions by authors, poets, or illustrators of colour.

With seed funding from VINCI Construction UK Ltd., the ‘See Myself in Books’ project will grow and develop during the next year. If you are an organisation or business that would like to get involved in funding a collection of books for a local Manchester primary school, please do get in touch – margaret.duff@manchester.gov.uk.