Untapped source of multicultural literature

5th January 1996 at 00:00
As Diane Hofkins says, a media outcry about the death of "literature from a variety of cultures" - revealed in the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority snapshot report on children's reading (TES, December 22) is unlikely. She also points out the main reason for the omission: lack of quality world literature from British trade publishers in cheap editions. Trade publishers are of course market-led and, as the lack of interest in the media reflects that of the market, they are not likely to step up production.

There has, however, been a recent upsurge in quality multicultural publishing by educational publishers. The project in which I was recently involved, for instance, commissioned new full-length stories and poems for primary and early secondary pupils by acclaimed writers from a variety of cultural backgrounds - including John Agard, Pratima Mitchell, Errol Lloyd, Debjani Chatterjee, Grace Hallworth, Beverley Naidoo and Lemn Sissay. All these works are priced well below the average cost of a trade paperback.

Unfortunately, there are still many people in the educational world (particularly the English-teaching advisory sector) who regard any books produced by educational publishers as inferior to those produced by trade - somehow "unreal" as opposed to "real". As long as this publishing class-distinction exists, a rich source of multicultural literature (and the teaching support accompanying it, such as tape and video readings by the authors) will remain unknown and unavailable to many teachers.

SUE PALMER

General editor Longman Book Project 11 St George's Road Truro Cornwall

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