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Books create belonging. They help us see each other and understand one another. They shine a light on the world. It’s vital that the books we read in our formative years reflect the rich diversity of the society we live in.

Every young person deserves an educational experience that more fully reflects Britain’s past and the lives of its young people today. There has been much debate about the need to reform the History curriculum – but we believe there is a real need to reconsider English literature too. After all, almost every young person studies English literature until the age of 16.

That’s why we at Penguin are excited to join forces with The Runnymede Trust to explore how to support schools to make the teaching and learning of English Literature more inclusive. We want to increase students’ access to more books by writers of colour and those from minority ethnic backgrounds.

The facts

  • Only one GCSE English Literature course features a novel or play written by a Black author


  • Nearly 40% of 14-16 year olds agreed that I can't find anything to read that interests me. Source: National Literacy Trust Annual Literacy Survey 2019


  • Between 2016 and 2020, 25% fewer students chose to study English Literature at A Level


Through Lit in Colour, we commit to:

• Commission landmark research from The Runnymede Trust to better understand the scale of the issue and explore possible solutions, with the voices and views of teachers and young people front and centre

• Support this campaign over the long-term by providing practical and creative tools to equip and empower teachers and students to make change in the classroom. This will include working together with the incredible authors we publish, as well as donating books, creating free resources and more

• Seek out alliances with experts and organisations already fighting for education reform

As a publisher, we have a critical part to play in publishing more books by writers of colour for all ages. You can read more about how we’re accelerating our work to become an inclusive employer and publisher here.


Further reading: writers, teachers and more on why diverse books matter


Do you want to take action now? Why not join the 400,000 people who signed this grassroots petition to update GCSE reading lists?

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