OUP Joins PRH’s Lit in Colour Campaign
By Naomi Churn
Oxford University Press, the UK’s leading educational publisher, has joined Penguin Random House’s 'Lit in Colour' campaign, aiming to work with schools across the country to provide a more representative reading experience for students.
PRH launched the 'Lit in Colour' campaign in 2020, in partnership with race equality think tank, The Runnymede Trust, with the aim of providing tools to support schools in making the teaching of English Literature more inclusive. As it stands, only one English Literature GCSE course features a novel or play written by a black author. 'Lit in Colour' intends to redress the balance and diversify the curriculum at all key stages of learning in UK schools.
OUP’s role in the partnership will be to target primary school curriculums, by providing a range of free resources to educators and parents to help them diversify teaching and learning experiences at this level. Resources will include reading lists, blog articles and podcasts from a diverse range of authors and experts, and a school planning toolkit to aid teachers in overhauling their current reading provision.
Teachers and parents have often reported a huge drop off in children’s interest in reading between primary and secondary school age. The hope is that by broadening primary schools' reading provision, 'Lit in Colour' will encourage students to retain a passion for books late into their teens and beyond. In support of this aim, schools from across the country will also be invited to join a reading project covering a diverse range of titles, as well as participating in a corresponding research and impact study.
Speaking about the news, Vivek Govil, Managing Director of OUP’s UK Education division, said ‘We’re delighted to be partnering with 'Lit in Colour' and The Runnymede Trust to further our proactive role in opening up the conversation and taking positive, practical steps to encourage diverse reading and learning experiences in school and at home. [...] We are committed to our aim that all young people, as well as teachers and parents, see themselves reflected in the books and resources they use.’
Zaahida Nabagereka, 'Lit in Colour' Programme Manager, added: ‘The love of reading and stories starts in early childhood, so with OUP coming on board as a named partner we will be building a strategy around widening representation in books for primary school education. [...] Our partnership with OUP gives us the opportunity to expand our impact in this area.’
Research is soon due to be published by the 'Lit in Colour' campaign illuminating what the current barriers to teaching a more diverse English Literature curriculum are. It is hoped that the results of this study, alongside this new affiliation with OUP and existing partnerships, will be the first step towards encouraging practical, positive and much-needed change in reading provision in UK schools.
More Opportunities as Literary Magazines Open Up to Debut Authors
By Katie Gough
As many publishing hopefuls and graduates will be all too familiar with, there is a vicious cycle of needing experience to get a job, but needing a job to get experience. Unfortunately, a similar cycle exists for debut authors. They need publicity to get exposure, but need to have some exposure for magazines to offer publicity. All we really ‘need’, however, is for someone to take a chance!
It seems that literary magazines, such as Five Dials, AFREADA, and Bad Form are doing just that, and are now taking a gamble on publishing’s debut and underrepresented authors.
Indeed, authors, who do not feel supported elsewhere in publishing, can now seek out Five Dials – an online literary magazine linked to Hamish Hamilton. The magazine has recently pivoted to only publishing underrepresented authors, after they saw a huge success with their debut author issue. Hannah Chukwu, an editor with the magazine, said: “If we’ve got this platform and we have a dedicated subscriber base and readership, actually it feels really valuable to be able to use that platform to elevate writers who aren’t getting the support they deserve elsewhere, and be able to shine a light on them through a platform that doesn’t feel so full of barriers in a way that mainstream publishing can be.”
Well, there is now one less barrier at Five Dials, where there is no longer the hassle of needing an agent.
In the letter from the editors in their Spring 2021 issue, Five Dials highlighted how the “deep inequalities of our societies [were brought] into sharp, unignorable relief”. They said: “We all agreed that we wanted to pass the mic to the writers and artists who are underrepresented on bookshelves across the anglophone world, and whose stories, ideas, experiences and perspectives our literature is very much the poorer without. Five Dials has always welcomed writing from everyone, but there is an important difference between not locking the door and considering what it takes for a person to step through it.” They stated that their editorial gaze was now turning to underrepresented communities. This particular issue can be found here.
This is something that African literary magazine, AFREADA have been doing since 2015. Here, they exclusively focus on short stories from writers across Africa and its diaspora.
Looking at the benefits it brings to writers, Nancy Adimora, the founder of AFREADA, said “I feel like it gives writers the confidence to go off and submit to other magazines as well. A lot of the time when it comes to creative expression or creative work, you hear a lot of ‘nos’ and I think it’s really validating to hear your first 'yes', and that will inevitably spur you on to go on and pursue a longer career in the industry.”
Having literary magazines more open to saying ‘yes’ to brand new and underrepresented authors may be the stepping stone they need to securing a book deal or, even, to hit astronomical sales. We can only hope that agents will follow the likes of Seren Adams, from United Agents, who has said she “loves” looking at slightly less mainstream magazines to find new writers, and hopes that other literary magazines will lower their barriers.