Diversity, books and reading Panel

14.10 – Thursday 4th July

BookTrust researcher, Speaking Volumes and authors discuss  diversity, books and reading


Sharmilla Beezmohun, Co-Director, Speaking Volumes

Sharmilla Beezmohun has worked in publishing since 1994. She co-founded Speaking Volumes Live Literature Productions in 2010 with Sarah Sanders. Previous work includes eleven years as Deputy Editor of Wasafiri, the Magazine of International Contemporary Writing. Sharmilla is a Trustee of Carcanet Publishers, Modern Poetry in Translation magazine and the George Padmore Institute, an archive housing unique collections of material from pioneering Black British political and cultural organisations of the last 70 years. In 2010 her first novel, Echoes of a Green Land, was published in translation in Spain as Ecos de la tierra verde


Sita Bramachari, Author

Olivia Danso, Arts and Prizes Project Manager, BookTrust

Olivia Danso is the Project Manager of BookTrust Represents, a three-year project to support and promote authors and illustrators of colour.

In April 2019, BookTrust, the UK’s largest children’s reading charity released findings of a ground-breaking new report into the underrepresentation of British authors and illustrators of colour within the children’s book publishing industry. BookTrust Represents was launched in response to the research, to address the imbalance in the industry and increase diverse representation in children’s books.



Peter Kalu, Author

Onjali Q Rauf, Author

Representation of people of colour among children’s book authors and illustrators (2007-2017)

The British children’s book sector is thriving; more children’s books are sold in the UK than ever before. However, the cohort of people that creates these books does not reflect the makeup of the UK, where an array of lives, cultures, identities and stories have overlapped for many years. This presentation, based on a report commissioned by BookTrust, seeks to establish a clear picture of who writes and illustrates the books our children read. These authors, illustrators and author-illustrators are referred to throughout the report as ‘creators of colour’.  Findings are presented from an analysis of all children’s books published in the UK between 2007 and 2017 and interviews with 15 British creators of colour.

Melanie Ramdarshan Bold, Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor, University College London

Melanie Ramdarshan Bold is a Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor at University College London, where she teaches and researches topics related to publishing/book cultures. Her main research interest centres on the contemporary history of authorship, publishing and reading, with a focus on children’s and young adult (YA) books. Melanie’s book Inclusive young adult fiction: authors of colour in the United Kingdom was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2019.

Chair: Jake Hope, Reading Development and Children’s Book Consultant