A pop-up children’s bookshop in south London that only sells titles with a BAME protagonist has received enough crowdfunding to stay open into 2019.
Read The One Per Cent was opened in Brixton by Aimée Felone and David Stevens, who also co-founded Knights Of publishers to address the issue of diversity in children’s literature – in 2017 only 1% of kids’ books in the UK featured a BAME protagonist.
The fundraising has been so successful that the shop, which re-opened on 12 December after a five-day run in October, will now be open from 10am-7pm every day until 23 December.
Felone told HuffPost UK the response has been overwhelming: “I couldn’t put a specific number on how many visitors we’ve had but it must be in the hundreds.
“The response to the shop has been amazing with lots of people coming in saying: ‘It’s about time – this is exactly what Brixton needs.’”
On the morning we speak she says the shop has been inundated with children, parents and teachers. “Just this week a teacher came in and cried at the till and thanked us for existing, saying it’s so important what we’re doing.
“Children of all ages have been excited to pick up books that are representative of themselves and their friendship groups.”
Felone said she has seen children picking up books, running to their parents and saying things like “mum she/he looks like me – this is me”.
In fact, demand has been so overwhelming that Stevens and Felone have put in an additional stock order in a bid to “tide them over” until Christmas.
The fundraising effort received a boost from Penguin publishers who announced it would match all funding up to the value of £15,000. “Their support has been incredible and unexpected,” said Felone.
In the future, Felone and Stevens hope they will be able to raise enough money to make the shop permanent and bring it to other locations across the UK and Ireland, including Liverpool, Edinburgh and Birmingham.
Knights Of not only sell books but also publish commercial children’s fiction that is distributed throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe. To commission and publish diverse literature, the team aims to be as inclusive as possible.
It also works with retailers to ensure other bookshops are more accessible to communities and families who do not regularly visit bookshops, and support events, outreach, marketing and partnerships.