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UK Schoolboy Challenges Publishers to Include More Disabled Protagonists in Children’s Books

Frankie, a young schoolboy in the United Kingdom, has a bone to pick with children’s publishers. Frankie wonders why so few book protagonists are disabled or deformed, while so many of the villains are.

Frankie, who was born with a disability, hasn’t just kept his concerns to himself. On BBC Newsround, a British news program directed at young viewers, Frankie voiced his opinion in an interview and then brought the point directly to the publishers themselves.

He visited the UK publisher Bloomsbury, responsible for the original UK publication of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series (whose villian, Voldemort, is deformed). Frankie pointed out the problem to Emma Hopkin, Bloomsbury’s head of children’s and educational publishing. Hopkin was very receptive of Frankie ideas, saying that her company was “very aware of the need to represent diversity in our books.”

People like Frankie are having an impact, according to Alexandra Strick of Inclusive Minds, an organization that fights for diversity in children’s books. She told the Guardian that things are “definitely improving.”

“We’ve moved away from mostly negative depictions of disability – historically, it was very much that villains were depicted as disfigured,” Strick explained. Frankie – and readers everywhere – are hoping that progress continues to be made.

 

Main image courtesy of BBC

Stephen Lovely, writer