What about other cultures?

african, children's books, design, idea, illustration, Ken Wilson-Max, publishing, stories

I spent time in book shops over the festive season.  I realised it is still a better experience than being online.

I also noticed the lack of contemporary stories for children about other cultures. Most, if not all publishers have an anthology of folk tales from ‘the world’. Then, most publishers have the obligatory ‘multicultural’ collections, or a series about a character from somewhere else. But there aren’t many of these and they are so similar that they can be mistaken for being the same.

Children that don’t have access to cultural stories will grow up to be adults that don’t have access to cultural stories. What will they pass on to their children? Flights of fantasy for young children don’t have to all be dragons and giants and talking animals that are candy coloured, or warm and fuzzy. In this age where more respect is being given to a person’s background celebrating cultures could go a long way.

Youth culture is current and ever-changing and really quite exciting. We cannot look at it like a sub culture. It has its own language and code of behaviour which comes out of the your person’s experience as a child.

African culture is all but forgotten by publishers. Traditional culture is crammed in to the one volume I mentioned earlier and modern African culture is simply not present. 54 countries and the cradle of human life is not seen as interesting enough…

If you ever have the opportunity to sit with a book seller our buyer you will hear that these stories simply don’t sell, it’s a sales and marketing issue. I believe it is one of misunderstanding and slight fear. As the world looks to Africa and the East it is only a matter of time before that will change.

So, this year, I will be focusing on cultures of all kinds: How to make them fun, how to turn them into stories. What’s more, I’ll let you know how the year progresses.

K

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