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Representation among authors and illustrators, how is it going?
In recent years' book fairs, more and more of you have asked how we work with representation among authors and illustrators. So good! We listen and change. If we want to create an inclusive society, representation in text and images is not enough.
Basically, it is about whose stories get to be heard and seen. As a writer and illustrator, you often draw inspiration from your own life, from your own experiences. And they differ depending on where we grew up, how we live, who we are and what we have been through. This is precisely why more diverse voices are needed.
We work with the issue in two different ways. Partly by translating titles such as Ara Stjärnprogrammeren, where Komal Singh wants to inspire more girls to programming, and My color, your color, where Laura Henry-Allain created an anti-racist handbook, based on her own experiences of racism.
We also actively seek out, like when we would make the book inspired by Zećira Mušović. Then we wanted an illustrator who also originated from the Balkans and found the fantastic Johanna Zverzina who did the speedy illustrations for Dröm stort, Zećira ! We also started a collaboration with the Sami duo Elin Marakatt and Anna-Stina Svonni, which resulted in the two wonderful reference books Vår i Sápmi and Fest i Sápmi. In the books, they show the Sami culture and offer a mini-course in the Sami language!
In the last two years alone, we have started collaboration with these 12 exciting people: Tarek Alfutih, John and Johan Valencia, Rana Kadry, Elin Marakatt, Anna-Stina Svonni, Laura Henry Allain, Komal Singh, Rafaela Stålbalk Klose, Oniinye Iwy , Johanna Zverzina and Zećira Mušović.
Of our 53 illustrators, 7 have credit from a country other than Sweden, which corresponds to approximately 14%. Out of 58 authors, 10 have credits from a country other than Sweden, which corresponds to approximately 17%. From now on, we will follow up on these numbers every year during book fair times.
But representation is not only about origins but also about ways of living, being and functioning. Among our writers and illustrators, there is still an over-representation of straight white people from middle-class backgrounds, but we continue to work on these issues. All so that more stories will be heard.
So the answer to the question is that we are working on it and that it is going quite well. And we continue to work on, in 2024 we will offer children's books by an author with CP and an author with autism. Thanks for getting involved, we're always happy when you readers make requests about what you want us to do more of. Together with you, we change the world! ❤️
Text: Marie Tomičić , publisher and CEO