Parents can be put off buying a book if it has a black character on the front cover, the new Children's Laureate of the United Kingdom has said.
Malorie Blackman, the 51-year-old author of dozens of books including the award-winning Noughts & Crosses series for teenagers, has said there was still a need for 'more ethnically diverse literature in this country'.
The author, from London, has said she will use her two-year tenure to 'bang the drum' for diversity.
She said there was a lack of black and Asian children in picture books and described feeling 'totally invisible' when she was younger due to never reading a book that featured a black child, The Telegraph has reported.
Children will go with any story as long as it's good but white adults sometimes think that if a black child's on the cover it is perhaps not for them.
'Books teach children to see the world through the eyes of others and empathise with others. It's about the story.
She also told the paper she wanted to spend her time as laureate focusing on older children and teenagers.
The mother-of-one, who worked as a computer programmer before becoming a full-time writer 23 years ago, said she will use her position to be an 'advocate' for public libraries and campaign against 'short-sighted' closures.
She said she owed her success to her local libraries when she was growing up in Lewisham, south-east London.
I will do everything I can to ensure our library service is maintained or improved especially when you look at other countries like South Korea which in 2012 initiated a programme to actually build 180 libraries and Russia are building libraries and we seem to be closing them and I just think its a very short-sighted move.
The author, whose novel Pig-Heart Boy was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal and made into a BBC series, said it was 'a real honour' to be chosen for the role and that children's books needed a champion.