Character diversity in children's books: Do you see yourself in characters?

Last updated at 05:17
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WATCH: 'It's important everyone sees themselves in books'

What was the last book that you read? Think about the main characters.

Now, think about the last book that you read in which the main character was black, or from a mixed heritage background, or in which the main character was disabled.

Do you find it difficult to think of one? If you do, you're not alone.

Many people have spoken about how there aren't enough diverse characters in children's books.

We want to know what you think about this issue - so take part in our vote and leave a comment below.

Diversity is what inspired children's author and TV presenter Cerrie Burnell to start writing children's books.

"When I was little, there weren't really many characters in books who looked like me who had one hand, apart from Captain Hook (in Peter Pan), and I did not want to be a beardy pirate!" says Cerrie. "When I had my beautiful daughter Amelie, who's dual heritage, I really wanted to find story books that had children in who looked like her."

"We found some, but not enough," explains Amelie.

Cerrie and her daughter looking at books.
"I think it's really important for every child to be able to see themselves in a book" says Cerrie

The problem isn't just limited to books, though. Cerrie and her daughter spoke to Newsround about how there aren't always enough diverse characters in TV shows and films too.

When asked why it is important that everyone can see themselves reflected in books, Cerrie explained: "It's such a joyful thing when somebody can see themselves in a book character. It can really raise someone's self-confidence and hopefully it will help them to fall in love with reading."

"It's really important to tell a broad range of stories because otherwise it gets too boring if you're always seeing the same characters. There are lots of different children with lots of different heritages and abilities, and I want to see all of that included."

"I think it's really important for every child to be able to see themselves in a book," she added.

Amelie went on to say that when she sees a front cover of a book with a character who looks like her, it makes her feel like she was the one who inspired the author to come up with that character.

So who is responsible for making sure that there are lots of different characters for children to enjoy?

"I think it's the responsibility of the publishing industry and the TV industry to change the storyteller," says Cerrie. "Because when you change the storyteller, you change the story."

"What I mean by that is we need more authors, writers, producers and directors who look like me and you, or who come from different backgrounds. We need more storytellers from diverse backgrounds."

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