Inclusive publishing in practice: interview with Truth & Tails

Phoebe Kirk is the co-founder of Truth & Tails, and also creates illustrative work at Phoebe Kirk Illustration:

1. In a nutshell, what is Truth and Tails?

Truth & Tails is the series of children’s books created by myself, the illustrator and author Alice Reeves. Our books are aimed at children ages 4–8 which tackle hard-to-explain concepts using loveable and colourful characters.

2. What led you to set up the company?

Alice and I decided to set up Truth & Tails as a way of bringing inclusivity and diversity into children’s fiction. We want to bring social issues that parents might find difficult to vocalise into children’s and by proxy parents’ lives in an accessible and fun way. Initially we started out as self-published; this worked well for us for the first couple of years but when we decided to take the business to the next level, we were quickly picked up by our publisher Jessica Kingsley publishers as we had shared values and a matching ethos.

3. How well do you think the publishing industry is doing at publishing inclusive books for children?

When we started four years ago there weren’t as many children’s books with a similar message to ours in mainstream circles. Now the market has opened up a lot more; the Big Five publishers have even started releasing more inclusive titles.

4. What are your hopes and plans for the next few years at Truth and Tails?

We enjoy school and nursery visits particularly and our aim is to get our books into more schools and libraries, We also have a few larger ideas in the pipeline but unfortunately we have to keep some under wraps for the time being. One ambition of mine is to produce an animated series of Truth & Tails one day for children’s television. 

5. Can you foresee a time when we no longer need publishers who are explicitly focused on inclusivity?

Whilst it would be wonderful if diverse fiction was widely accepted I think there will always be a need for specific publishers for various content. Our publisher Jessica Kingsley Publishers creates a platform for many specified areas of books not just children’s fiction. They focus on content for autism, gender identity and many other themes and I think it will always be appropriate for those titles to have their own space on the market.