Lit in Colour FAQs
We've done our best to answer questions you might have for us here. If you're an education professional or organisation working on education reform, we'd love to hear any more questions or comments you have. You can sign up at the bottom of the page to get involved, or get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is Penguin hoping to achieve through this project?
We want to make the teaching of English literature in UK schools more inclusive, increase understanding around racial equality, and give students access to more books by and about people of colour. Now, more than ever, books should – and must – play a vital role in challenging racial inequalities and promoting a common sense of belonging.
As a first step, we have commissioned major research to review the current state of play in English literature education, building on The Runnymede Trust's previous work on race equality in schools and the History curriculum.
Is this initiative targeted at all schools, across all ages?
The research specifically looked at Key Stages 2-5, which covers ages 7-18. The ongoing programme will be informed by the findings of the research, and will continue to focus on supporting both primary and secondary schools.
Why are you focusing on race when you could be focusing on gender and the lack of representation of women, or other under-represented areas like sexuality or disability?
We believe that books people read should be fully representative of all aspects of society, but this piece of research is specifically focusing on race. Of course, we hope that working towards a more inclusive approach to the teaching of English literature will both support and enable greater representation in all areas. We’d love to hear from people who are looking into other areas of under-representation to that we can connect and share findings.
What is Penguin doing to increase the representation across its own list of authors?
Our WriteNow programme, which has been in place since 2016, focuses on seeking out and publishing writers from communities underrepresented in books, including writers of colour. The programme has been successful in helping us identify, publish and amplify more representative voices – we’ve worked directly with over 500 writers and have so far offered 19 publishing deals.
In addition, we’re working to diversify our editorial teams to ensure a wider diversity of experience, background and thought, which we hope will ultimately result in a greater diversity of authors acquired. Our editorial traineeship, The Scheme, for example, is a positive action programme for young editors of colour and those from socio-economically marginalised backgrounds, and we’ll be introducing a senior editorial positive action traineeship in 2021, open to Black people and people of colour at Commissioning Editor level.
You can read more about our work to become an inclusive and representative publisher and employer here.