Disability
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British teen asks for more disabled characters in books who are not exclusively villains

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Written By: Sadaf Ahsan 18/9/15

In a BBC report, Frankie, a 14-year-old boy called on UK publishers to include more disabled characters in children’s books, and asked why the villains of children’s stories are so often “deformed”.

Frankie was born with a disability and said, “I think if we involve disabled people in books, we can raise awareness and it will become the norm to people. They won’t stare, they won’t make comments, and life would get better, society would get better.”

The British teen met Bloomsbury’s head of children’s and educational publishing, Emma Hopkin, and asked her why most literary villains are often physically deformed.

“I think there’s an enormous amount of villains in books,” Hopkin said, “and I’m trying desperately hard now to think of an example of a non-deformed villain, and I can’t think of one.”

”I’m trying desperately hard now to think of an example of a non-deformed villain, and I can’t think of one”

The editor said the publishing industry is “very aware of the need to represent diversity in our books”, and that “we are working very hard here at Bloomsbury and elsewhere in the industry to ensure that everybody is represented in some way in some books.”

Frankie hopes to “see if there are any small hints of an asthma pump or a hearing aid, so that I do know they’re still pushing the idea of diversity in books.”

“We’ve moved away from mostly negative depictions of disability – historically, it was very much that villains were depicted as disfigured,” said Alexandra Strick, manager and cofounder of Inclusive Minds. “But we still have a long way to go to include disabled characters naturally. They do tend to be featured as an issue – it’s a book about disability, or a character is very much defined by being disabled. What we want to see is natural, casual images of disability, in a non-preachy way. It’s about natural inclusion.”

Source: National Post 

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