This report is based on questions from our 2020 Annual Literacy Survey, conducted between January and mid-March 2020 with 58,346 children aged 9 to 18. These questions were designed to see to what extent they feel it is important that story and information books include characters of people from lots of different backgrounds and whether they find it difficult to find books with characters or people who look like them.
- 32.7% of children and young people aged 9 to 18 say that they don’t see themselves in what they read, and 39.8% would like more books with characters who are similar to them.
- More children and young people from ethnic minority backgrounds than White backgrounds say that they don’t see themselves in what they read (40% vs. 30.5%). This is particularly true for children and young people from Black ethnic backgrounds.
- More children and young people who receive free school meals compared with those who don’t say that they don’t see themselves in what they read (37.3% vs. 31.9%).
- Twice as many children aged 9 to 11 compared with their peers aged 14+ say that they don’t see themselves in what they read.
- The issue of representation was particularly salient for children and young people who describe their gender not as a boy or girl, with 44.3% of these children and young people saying that they struggle to see themselves in what they read compared with 32.7% of boys and 32.5% of girls.