In the United Kingdom, a third of school children identify as Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic (BAME), 6.8% of whom identify as Asian. And yet, fewer than 5% of children’s books feature BAME main characters and fewer than 2% of children’s book creators are British authors of colour. When it comes to Asian representation, only 0.14% of children’s books published in 2018 had an Asian protagonist.
At Lantana, we believe all children deserve to see themselves in the books they read. We publish inclusive books celebrating our differences written by authors from diverse cultures and backgrounds. We are honoured to work with some amazing authors and illustrators of South Asian descent, who we are proud to showcase here. Their fun, joyful and stunning picture books celebrate the influence of South Asian cultures on British storytelling traditions.
First up, we have I Am Brown, a joyful celebration of being brown and amazing, written by Ashok Banker and illustrated by Sandhya Prabhat. A children’s book of the month in The Guardian and The Observer, it was described as ‘a note-perfect hymn about acceptance, pride and belonging’. Known as India’s ‘epic storyteller’, Banker is the bestselling author of over 70 books (including the Ramayana series) which have sold over 3.2 million copies in 21 countries and 61 languages. I Am Brown is his first picture book and has just been shortlisted for Best Picture Book in the Teach Early Years Awards.
Banker describes himself as a brown child of mixed descent who never saw himself represented in books. So, he wanted to write a book that children like himself could relate to – a book that captures the variety and diversity of children everywhere, whatever their nationality, culture, creed, race, religion or identity. Illustrator and animator Prabhat’s joyous illustrations bring Banker’s text to life. Prabhat has illustrated nearly a dozen picture books, mostly in India, and has worked on projects for Google and Snapchat.
Next is Chitra Soundar and Poonam Mistry’s gorgeous bedtime series: You’re Safe With Me, You’re Snug With Me, and You’re Strong With Me. An Indian-born British author and storyteller, Soundar has published over 30 books inspired by the rich culture and heritage of India. Soundar’s lyrical, rhythmic and soothing story is perfectly accompanied by Mistry’s intricate and striking illustrations. The rich and embellished patterns in her artwork are influenced by traditional Indian art and kalamkari textiles. Mistry was shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal two years in a row for her work on this series.
Ranjit Singh’s debut picture book Nimesh the Adventurer illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini takes readers on a journey with Nimesh, who is walking home from school. Armed with a vivid imagination, Nimesh transforms his everyday environment into an amazing world of adventure. Teachers turn into dragons, a shark swims down a corridor that has become an ocean, and across the road is the North Pole! Singh is a British author of East Indian heritage using words to reach out and inspire people. His book earned praise from The Independent: ‘The perfect picture book example of how to celebrate inclusion in modern Britain’.
If you’d like to to learn more about these books, or see our other books by authors of South Asian descent, you can visit our website: www.lantanapublishing.com. Many thanks to South Asian Writers for inviting us to tell you about our amazing authors and their books!