Postgraduate Dissertation

Representations of Ethnic Minorities in Multicultural Children’s Books: A Study of The Pressures Facing Mainstream Children’s Publishers in the United Kingdom and Readers’ Responses.


The focus of this research explored readers’ opinions of multicultural children’s books in light of the demands placed on mainstream children’s publishers in the United Kingdom (UK) to improve representations and availability of multicultural children’s books. The need for this research is based on a manifest response required by the broader diversity movement who assert that publishers’ attempts to correctly represent ethnic minorities is inadequate and misguided. The overall aim of this research was to understand how mainstream UK children’s publishers can improve publications of multicultural children’s books for the benefit of parents, carers and their child readers. To facilitate the aim of this research, it was necessary to explore key issues raised by pressure groups, authors and the broader publishing industry through an extensive review of relevant literature and through the collection and analysis of empirical data. The primary research consisted of an online survey questionnaire targeting parents and carers of children with an interest in reading multicultural children’s books at home for leisure purposes. The objective was to gather their opinions and suggestions in areas they felt that representations of ethnic minorities in multicultural children’s books could be improved. The literature review identified that mainstream publishers’ predominantly use white editorial staff and demonstrate questionable levels of engagement with ethnic minority authors and illustrators and that there is some confusion as to what multicultural books to publish. The empirical research identified a white majority and ethnic minority readership of multicultural children’s books and gathered suggestions for improvement in areas such as ethnic minority representations, opinions on ethnic authors and illustrators, favourite books and marketing insights. The main conclusions and recommendations established from this research are that mainstream publishers would benefit from engagement with ethnic minority authors and illustrators; and that parents and carers of children (white majority, mixed heritage or ethnic minority) require more African-American, multicultural and Asian children’s books, portraying more everyday topics, hobbies and family-life etc in picture books and fiction for 0-12 years.

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Wilkins, Tanya


Rights Holders: Wilkins, Tanya
Supervisors: Warwick, Lucy

Oxford Brookes departments

Oxford International Centre for Publishing

Degree programme

MA Publishing Studies



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