Biting back - with a tooth fairy

5th May 2006 at 01:00
Verna Wilkins set up Tamarind Books 18 years ago because she had seen her son become bored and disenchanted with the all-white books he was offered in school.

Rather than raise race-related issues in her children's books, she concentrates on publishing straightforwardly enjoyable stories in which all the characters, including the fairies, are black. One of her most popular books features a black tooth fairy. "I do believe that publishing can be both inclusive and profitable and the Diversity Matters conference will go some way to change things. But we must get it right. Some parents have searched the bookshops in vain and no longer return."

She recently ran a bookstall at the Black Hair and Beauty Show at Alexandra Palace, to target young mothers ("I decided to take the mountain to Muhammad"), and noticed children's excitement at a rack of books with black faces on the covers. "It seemed a tragedy to me that after all this time, this is still such a surprise to black children, that they are so unused to seeing themselves in books. That's not some-thing that happens to a white child."

But she recognises some progress. One of her most recent books was com-missioned by the son who started it all. She adds, "The schools and libraries that I go to these days are aware that a black female can be a publisher, so when I arrive they don't ask me when the publisher is coming."

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now