School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

Staff Profile

Professor Karen Sands-O'Connor

British Academy Global Professor


I am British Academy Global Professor of Children's Literature specializing in the history of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic children's literature and publishing. I was previously a Leverhulme Visiting Professor (2015-2016) at Newcastle, and work with Seven Stories Centre for Children's Books as well as the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals on issues of diversity and inclusion in children's literature.


PhD thesis, 'The Imagination and the Imagined Nation: Post-1945 British Children's Fantasy' (1999), School of English, Communication and Philosophy, Cardiff University.

MA in the Writing and Study of Children's Literature, Hollins University, 1995.


Research Interests

  • Contemporary Black British writers for children
  • Children's publishing
  • Radical activism and children's literature, particularly after 1945
  • Nationalism and children's literature

Current Work

I am currently working with the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) on their Reflecting Realities project to record and publish statistics on British publishing and diversity, as well as advising the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) on ways to increase awareness and understanding of diverse and inclusive children's books in their Carnegie and Kate Greenaway award processes.  

My current research project focuses on radical activism and publishing for Black British children from the 1960s to the present day.  In this project, I investigate the ways that radical activists from a variety of political, cultural and social backgrounds attempt to create literature that communicates their activist viewpoint to a Black British child audience.  I focus on the publishing, marketing and distribution of such material, and assess its impact on child readers.

In working with Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children's Books, I consider the ways that the archive and museum have an impact on the national understanding of issues such as race, racism and readership.

Postgraduate Supervision

In previous academic posts, I have supervised graduate thesis work in Black British and Caribbean literature for children.  I would be very happy to hear from students interested in working in these areas, or in projects concerning contemporary children's literature and nationalism (particularly work on British "values" or citizenship education and children's literature)..



I teach SEL8685, Children's Literature and Black Britain, on the MA taught programme.