23 July 2018 by Stephanie Henwood
We recently shared an article written by the BBC’s Newsround, ‘Black, Asian and ethnic minorities are not properly represented in Children’s books’
This article came just days after I had read, for the second time, Chloe Perkins ‘Cinderella’ to my darling daughter, Summer.
This book covers the beloved traditional tale of Cinderella the servant girl and her two stepsisters, stepmother, the Fairy godmother and her handsome prince. The twist, being that this particular version of ‘Cinderella’ is set in Mexico.
You will see from some of the pictures that I have shared, the beautiful simplicity of the illustrations depicting this well-known family being of a different ethnic background to what we are used to.
I purchased this book on one of my many visits to the famous Blackwells Bookstores. This time, at a temporary location, one of their annual children’s book fairs located in Oxfords Millets Farm. You see, I have a bit of an addiction when it comes to Bookstores, since my daughter was born, I can’t bear to not purchase at least one fresh, new exciting title for our bookshelf at home.
The day I brought Chloe Perkins Cinderella, nothing particular was going on in my mind. I know the story well, as do others, I saw the beautiful oriental style illustrations and it just grabbed my attention. It had not even crossed my mind that the tale was told from over the seas. Should it have?
I am always looking for something with catchy, funky use of language and unique, eye-grabbing designs.
Over recent years, namely since my time on the Snowflake Books team, I have also become more open-minded and conscious of embracing other cultures too. Could this be why I subconsciously picked up this Mexican twist on Cinderella? Would I have done if I was my younger more ignorant self?
I have become aware of the importance of sharing my views on culture with my family. I want to know that as my children grow older, they will have the ability to form strong, firm bonds with anyone and the education to respect and acknowledge other race and religion as their equal.
I really love the way that Chloe has taken a famous story and recreated it into something just as beautiful. She has shown how simply you can alter a story to help children relate to it. Whether it be new tales or old, popular choices or the lesser known; more authors should be expressing mixed-race, cross-culture in their storybooks to represent the current day in age.
Once Upon A World (published by Simon&Schuster) certainly a series of books that I will be looking into buying more of. For my daughter, being your average white British, it is just as important to me that she see’s everyone as ‘normal’ regardless of race, religion, culture or beliefs. I want Summer to feel comfortable communicating with EVERYONE not just White/British types. And Once Upon A world, along with Snowflake Books are both a great place for us to start.
If you are looking to re-visit some traditional, famous tales then check out the ‘Once Upon a World’ series.
If it is fresh, new, exciting stories you are after to create childhood memories with then follow the link for Snowflake Books and discover their ‘Animal Signs Series’.
When I was writing down my thoughts, another similar article on the under-representation of minority characters in children's books was published by Sky News; There seems to still be a long way for similar-minded people to Snowflake Books team to go and fulfil our goals to promote diversity education with books in the UK. Judging by this article and the research that they completed.
We need to join together to encourage more mixed - culture story books so that children CAN relate to the characters, unlike young Ashaan Pryse.