New children's book series and animation address lack of diversity in UK children's literature
- Megan Merino
- 26 February 2021
With only 2% of UK children's books featuring Black characters, the HairyTales series celebrates Black heroes and their natural hair
The award-winning author of well-known children's book So Much, Trish Cooke has written three new books inspired by famous fairy tale stories: Zel, Let Out Your Hair, Jack and the Hair Stalk and The Puppet Who Wanted Hair.
The three stories centre around different character's innately personal relationships with their natural hair. Despite the familiar sounding titles, the new series of HairyTales published by the UK's first and leading Black children's subscription box service, Woke Babies, aim to tell a much bigger story.
In the UK, only 2% of children's books feature Black protagonists, despite over a third of Britain's school population coming from minority ethnic backgrounds.
The founder of Woke Babies, Kelly-Jade Nicholls, published the books by Trish Cooke with hairbrush brand Tangle Teezer, commissioners of the project, after Tangle Teezer's own research revealed nearly half of Black British children felt they weren't represented in the books they read.
Nicholls commented: 'Woke Babies was founded to tackle the lack of Black protagonists in children's books. As the leading Black children's subscription box provider and publisher, we want Black children to see themselves in the stories that are available to them and partnering with Tangle Teezer to reimagine classic fairy tales and celebrate afro hair is a great step. Woke Babies is committed to increasing the availability of Black children's books and the HairyTales collection proves how powerful having the right partners can be to telling great stories.'
Author Trish Cooke added: 'There is a massive lack of diversity in children's books. When I started writing children's books in the 80s 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. I was excited to work with Tangle Teezer and Woke Babies to write these three books, based on fairy tales and focused on Black protagonists and their natural hair.
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.'
A short animation of Zel, Let Out Your Hair narrated by critically acclaimed actress Lexi Underwood has also launched in conjunction with the HairyTales books.
Copies of the three books are being sent to 61 schools in London to increase the diversity of literature available in primary school libraries.
To find out more about HairyTales and to purchase the books, visit tangleteezer.com/hairytales