Daily Mail

Now ‘sensitivit­y readers’ have turned the spotlight on Ladybird’s fairytales

- By Isaan Khan and Daisy Graham-Brown

ONCe upon a time... the handsome prince rescued the beautiful princess and they lived happily ever after.

But in 2023, he could be an averageloo­king bisexual commoner – and they certainly won’t live happily ever if he forgets to ask which pronouns she prefers before slaying the dragon.

Ladybird Books has used sensitivit­y readers to re- examine some of its children’s fairytales to check their inclusivit­y, according to The Sunday Telegraph.

The Penguin-owned publisher’s catalogue includes classic tales such as Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty – but the characters andplots have been identified as ‘outdatedor harmful’.

Industry insiders claim problemati­c tropes include a lack of diversity among blonde-haired andblue-eyed protagonis­ts.

There are also fears of class discrimina­tion due to the social rank of princes and princesses, ageism as villains are usually old, and a lack of racial diversity among main characters. ‘Love at first sight’ romances could also be erased due to the protagonis­ts falling for each other before they have spoken.

It is feared that these tropes may suggest to children that goodlooks alone make someone worthy of attention and romance. The characters’ presumptio­n of gender pronouns at first sight has also been raised as an issue. For example, when a princess uses the term ‘man’ upon seeing a prince for the first time before they have got to know each other, with gender-neutral language said to be preferred.

Author and sensitivit­y expert Virginia Mendez, who is not involved in the Ladybird review, said: ‘Normalisin­g other relationsh­ips in books doesn’t take away from the story. [Just] letting them exist in that capacity as characters of the books.’

It comes after Penguin was forced into a U-turn after hiring sensitivit­y readers to rewrite chunks of roald Dahl’s books.

edits included the removal of words such as ‘hag’ and ‘fat’ – with Augustus Gloop, in Charlie andthe Chocolate Factory, insteadbei­ng described as ‘enormous’ – as well as the changing of phrases such as ‘you must be mad’ to ‘you must be out of your mind’.

 ?? ?? Evil?: Publisher’s classic tales have been dubbed harmful
Evil?: Publisher’s classic tales have been dubbed harmful

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