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Jazz Shaper: Jasmine Richards

Posted on 11 February 2023

Jasmine Richards has worked in children's publishing for over 15 years.

She has written over a dozen books for children, including Lucas Dives Deep and The Unmorrow Curse, and features in the Happy Here anthology. She is the series creator of the highly regarded Granny Jinks and Future Hero, co-writer on the Aziza's Secret Fairy Door series, and a screenwriter on PJ Masks. Jasmine is also the founder of Storymix, an inclusive children’s book incubator that centres kids of colour in high-concept stories full of joy and adventure.


I’m an avid reader and beyond that, I feel that my life experience and what I’ve managed to achieve is directly linked to my love of books.

It’s not just about learning to read, but loving to read for fun and for joy has a bigger outcome on your life chances.

Reading is magic and very powerful. 

I think it was working with writers and seeing that, that gave me the confidence to write.

I want to sort of open the door and I want to bring through as many people with me as possible.

I always tell my team, it’s always going to be hard; we are always going to be working with writers who need a little bit more extra support as they’re building up their writing muscle.

I really want to make sure our books represent our family, and the society we live in.

During the pandemic, when everyone had this moment to reflect, there was this sort of seismic shift in publishing towards creating books that centred kids of colour. That was exactly the thing that publishers wanted and needed urgently.

In 2020, we were a very young business that was very much in demand very quickly, so then we had to think about how we could scale, how could we grow but still keep the integrity, still keep the authenticity - and that has been a journey in itself

The really important thing to realise is, the books I’m creating aren’t just for black and brown children, they’re for all children. If a white child only ever reads books with a white hero, they start to internalise it. 

If all children are reading that all kids get to be the hero, then actually the next generation is going to be much better than our generation.

I don’t think I’m the only Black person that after the death of George Floyd who looked back on all the stuff that they had swallowed over this time and gone, “oh my goodness”.

Over the years, we had deal with so many little micro aggressions, so many little bits of trauma and you just carried on and on. I think there was a huge moment of reflection for lots of people about that

I don’t know if I’m a revolutionary, but I do say to my team, to myself, to the industry, that storytelling is activism, because stories are what shape us.

I’m trying to change what gets chosen on prize lists, what gets stocked in the library, because all of those little things, or big things, depending on your point of view, are going to make the difference.

I’m just going to quietly be here in the background creating brilliant books that delight, that are full of joy and say to the world: you can be the hero.

The publishing houses are the guardians of culture and as long as those gatekeepers are only a sort of sliver of society, then we’ve got a problem. 

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