Little Box of Books graduated from Cambridge Social Ventures in March 2021.
Little Box of Books finds story books from top publishers that reflect the diversity of our population, communities and families, selling them to families and schools in boxes. Children’s books are notoriously unrepresentative. In 2018 only 4% of children’s books published had a BAME main character. Lots of books published feature white, predominantly male characters, lots of books feature families with a mum and a dad, the dad often working, the mum providing childcare and rarely having paid employment.
Little Box of Books helps children to see themselves, their families and cultural references in stories, helping those underrepresented to recognise and realise their potential. This supports children to develop and maintain a love of reading, a major contributor to future academic success.
Inclusive storybooks also help overrepresented children to understand the world and their place in it, teaching them that everybody matters, reinforcing lessons on equality, diversity and understanding difference.
Lynsey Pollard co-founded the business in 2018. Career highlights include working as a TV producer and director on news, current affairs and observational documentaries, working as an aid worker, responding to humanitarian emergencies all over the world including in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Pakistan, Ethiopia and the Philippines. Immediately before setting up Little Box of Books, Lynsey was Head of Communications for Samaritans then Great Ormond Street Hospital. She came up with the idea for Little Box of Books when she became a single parent to her son, now aged six, and found she couldn’t see their family unit in any of the stories they were reading.
Neil Langston is co-founder and director for the business and is an IT professional who manages the website and supports with financial and strategic decision making.
Little Box of Books’ mission is to diversify children’s bookshelves in the UK. They want to see children’s books, currently labelled ‘diverse’ become mainstream. They want to support schools and institutions in finding books that better reflect the UK population so that children understand difference and grow up with equality embedded in their education.
Incidences of homophobic and racial hate crimes are on the increase across the UK. Representation in books and media won’t solve this but will contribute to creating a solid foundation from which children can develop a balanced world view and understand difference with respect and compassion.
Schools conduct lessons on racism, diversity, equality and respect but if the books that are available to schoolchildren don’t demonstrate that everybody matters equally, that everybody is equally important, then those lessons will be less effective. We want to help those lessons have maximum impact.