A range of fairy tale books have been released featuring a more diverse collection of characters including a Black Rapunzel and Pinocchio.
The classic children’s stories have been given a revamp to include more racial diversity.
Three books have been launched as part of the HairyTales series and includes Rapunzel-inspired, ‘Zel Let Out Your Hair’, Pinocchio-inspired ‘The Puppet Who Wanted Hair’, and ‘Jackson and the Hair Stalk,’ based on Jack and the Beanstalk.
Written by British author Trish Cooke and illustrated by Angela Corbin, the alternative children’s books put Black protagonists and Black hair at the heart of the narratives.
Author Trish Cooke said, “There is a massive lack of diversity in children’s books. When I started writing children’s books in the 1980s, I was told that there was not a market for children’s books with Black characters as the main protagonists and I was appalled. I have had several books published since then and although things are changing, they are not changing fast enough.”
Despite 33.5 per cent of the UK’s school population being from ethnic minority backgrounds, just five per cent of the children’s books published in 2019 featured ethnic minority protagonists, and only two per cent feature Black heroes.
Last summer sales of children’s book It’s Okay to be Different sky-rocketed and since then more books that explore the themes of race and diversity have been published – allowing parents to start a conversation about race with kids and also to diversify the characters children see in media as they grow up.
The release of the books comes after a free website for teaching children about Black history was launched.
Research carried out by Tangle Teezer found that almost half (46%) of the Black children in the UK don’t see anyone who looks like them in the books they read whether it’s skin colour or hair style.
Trish continued, “It is crucial that we continue to address the balance and publish more quality children’s books, with these characters, so that more children can see a reflection of themselves in the literature they read. ‘This has to start from the youngest of readers, to make a significant impact.”
The new book releases are timely as further findings showed three quarters of Black parents in the UK are reading more often to their children since the pandemic started.
And with the majority saying that where Black characters are included in books, TV and films, the representations of them are often negative and rife with stereotypes.
The books are being published by Woke Babies, the UK’s first Black children’s subscription box and publisher dedicated to getting racially diverse literature to more children around the world.
The HairyTales will be available to purchase in the UK via Tangle Teezer’s website from the 18th February.