World Book Day: Representation matters as Luton author and bookshop challenges multicultural stereotypes

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No Ordinary Bookshop in the Luton Market has plenty to offer

An independent bookstore in Luton is ensuring that all children see themselves positively reflected in the books that they read.

No Ordinary Bookshop in The Mall’s indoor market is run by Angel Miller, 61, and stocks a wide variety of books for children and teens.

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Angel said: “I am a mother, grandmother and my journey of representing children of colour began in 2006. Whilst my sons were growing up, I found it difficult to find books which represented them, or anything that would encourage them to read, since there were no relevant stories that they could relate to, or images that looked like them.

Angel Miller (pictured) runs No Ordinary Bookshop in the Luton MarketAngel Miller (pictured) runs No Ordinary Bookshop in the Luton Market
Angel Miller (pictured) runs No Ordinary Bookshop in the Luton Market

“I would go into a bookshop hoping to find books, which proved virtually impossible and this left them uninterested. Then the grandchildren came and again, I was faced with the same situation, this time I knew I had to do something about it and so my journey began to research books through publishers that could point me in the right direction to get books for children of colour. I found this very difficult as it seemed not even the publishers were able to provide such books, and if they did, they for want of a better word were hidden.”

Angel’s aim is to challenge stereotypes and the shortage of diverse literature. She said: “We’re providing a window to the world of different cultures from the earliest age possible. I want all children to view themselves as the ‘mirror’ of a book character who is being brave, beautiful and the protagonist of a narrative; seeing characters that look and believe like them in a positive light.”

Angel believes that when children read stories and texts that relate to their beliefs, customs and history it can inspire and empower them. She added: “Inclusive representation can dissipate feelings of exclusion and alter negative belief systems by stretching their imagination beyond stereotypical ideas about them.”

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Angel added: “I set up No Ordinary Bookshop in 2004 and continued to source books and provided a platform which will represent people of colour. No Ordinary Bookshop was set up in sheer frustration of not being able to source books which represented my children and I believe that all children should be represented, this will give them the confidence to be and express who they are.”

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As well as being the author of the ‘The Adventures of Max & Maxine’ series, Angel also holds events in the Luton Market Hall. To celebrate World Book Day, No Ordinary Bookshop is hosting a kids' arts and crafts day on Saturday (March 4). The event will run from 12pm – 4pm in the Market Hall, and activities will include mosaic making, face painting, story time, a pop up library and more.

She said: “Our event on March 4 is just part of our commitment in building our community. It's a free event for the whole family and all are welcome. Our events have brought together different cultures all through reading and I have personally witnessed relationships between families who would not ordinarily be introduced.”

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