A local charity has challenged the diversity in publishing while celebrating World Book Day.

World Book Day is a charity event held annually in the United Kingdom on the first Thursday in March. It is all about celebrating the wonderful power of books and the joy of reading.

One Voice Blackburn runs a number of youth groups which also feature a book club. They are promoting world book day by asking their members to read books written by females from minority backgrounds.

The organisation is keen to encourage young people to read books from varied authors, as well as traditional writers.

Representation of people from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic groups in the publishing industry has been at at 13% for the last three years, according to the Publishers Association. Female BAME representation is even lower.

“I would like to think that as an Asian female I would have the same chances of getting a book published as anyone else,” said 14 year old Imaan Azim, who is part of the West End Girls group. “I love reading books but when I heard about the low number of Black or Asian authors it really upset me. It’s unfair and there is no equality.”

The girls group are reading authors such as Samia Mir, Fatima Farheen Mirza, Nadia Mikhal, and Tahareh Maki. 

According to award winning Saima Mir her highly acclaimed book The Khan was stuck on the publisher’s desks for years.

“I had an agent who couldn’t sell the book for about five years.” She says she gave up on both the book and the agent. 

‘I was stuck with The Khan and didn’t know what to do with it. I thought nothing’s going to happen with this book.’ 

Eventually the book was released and received huge success.

Avid reader 11 year old Halima Munshi was shocked when she heard of Saima’s story.

“I honestly think that saying to a Muslim Asian female that her book is not good enough is more than unfair, it must be soul destroying.”