UK mother-of-three Emmaline McAndrew has been inspired to launch a unique and interactive crowdfunding campaign, set to create and publish a book of fairy tales that tackles the lack of diversity in children’s literature. Motivated by despair over helpless princesses, white knights, strong females always depicted as sly schemers, and lack of any LGBT or disabled characters, Emmaline founded Brain Candy Books to crowdfund the project.
The book will be a compendium of traditional fairy tales such as Rapunzel, Little Red Riding Hood and Puss in Boots, but while the storylines will remain faithful to original folklore, the characters will be brought in line with today’s levels of diversity in terms of gender, race, sexuality, ability, and body shape.
The IndieGoGo campaign will invite contributors to pledge funds to Brain Candy Books in return for rewards to raise the £50,000 needed to kick-start and fund the project. Rewards on offer are signed first editions of the book, original illustration posters, and for a cool £2,000, contributors can have themselves drawn into the book as a main character. To ensure true diversity and equality, there will be the chance to “bash ye olde randomiser” button to determine the traits of main characters. Similarly, animals, creatures, and background characters will be diversified.
Emmaline believes introducing more of the world we live in to children’s literature shouldn’t be considered an oddity in today’s society. She says, “When I was growing up in the 80s, it was very rare for me to see protagonists of colour in my books and it was considered ‘cool’ or controversial to have gay characters in soaps on TV. Children today are wondering why it’s such a big deal, this is just how life is in 2017 so why do we keep sticking to the same character formula? It shouldn’t be anything novel or special, it’s just a book with real, everyday people in it.
I’ve been asked where would this book sit in a library – in the feminist or diverse section? No, it would just be a book, on a shelf, along with all the other children’s books. I saw a great article calling for diversity in children’s literature by author Catherine Johnson recently, so I know I’m not alone in thinking this way. I contacted Catherine and she wished me luck in this venture and I hope I can add to her voice.”
The campaign launched on IndieGoGo on 1 September with pledges starting as little as £5. You can find the campaign here: igg.me