Leicester children’s publisher takes top prize at national awards

Photo: Sanjee de Silva and Abdul Thadha of Sweet Cherry Publishing

A Leicester publisher who is ‘reducing socio-economic barriers to reading for children’ has won the ‘Children’s Publisher of the Year 2022’ award.

Sweet Cherry Publishing scooped the award at the Independent Publishing Awards last month.

Sweet Cherry’s offices and warehouses are based in two of Leicester’s most deprived areas, Highfields and Beaumont Leys, with the business providing full-time employment to around 75 Leicestershire residents.

The judges commended Sweet Cherry for “its broader work on diversity and reducing socio-economic barriers to reading for children.”

They said: “Sweet Cherry is a fantastic achievement that is doing a lot of good in the world.

“They’re always looking for feedback and ways to improve.”

The award was received by publisher Sanjee de Silva, who said, “We are thrilled to have won Children’s Publisher of the Year!

“Ten years ago, we made it our mission to make books accessible and affordable for children of all backgrounds and abilities, but above all, to make reading fun and joyful.”

Sweet Cherry publishes children’s novels, abridged classics, and official books based on TV brands, including CBeebies’ Numberblocks and Alphablocks.

Bookseller Abdul Thadha founded the company in 2011.

He grew up in Highfields, where children rarely spoke English outside of school, and there was a sharp wealth divide, especially between ethnic communities.

Access to books was limited, and although he had worked with publishers for seven years, he believed the industry needed to work harder to reach these children.

Abdul launched Sweet Cherry – one of the few UK publishing houses run by the ‘global majority’ (the term now replacing ‘ethnic minority’).

He intended to publish value-for-money, illustrated, easy-to-read books and collections – with a mission to bring great stories to all children.

In autumn 2021, Sweet Cherry launched Clock Tower Publishing, a new venture which recognizes its heritage in Leicester.

Sweet Cherry Publishing wants to hear from local authors, illustrators and retailers who share their mission to make books inclusive and accessible to all children.

For more information, visit the website here.

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