Diversity (or not) in Children’s Books

The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education has put out some shocking statistics regarding children’s books featuring children of colour (read the report here). Looking at books published in 2017 the charity said that too few of these featured BAME main characters (just 1% in the UK!), and that there was not enough diversity in themes covered: 56% covered contemporary issues such as war and migration, while only 0.6% could be ‘classed as comedy’.

With this in mind, we’ve looked at our latest incoming ‘trolley’ of new books bought from our suppliers Peters, and are very happy to recommend the following titles:

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  • The Accidental President by Tom McLaughlin

This is the latest title in an hilarious series of role reversals. Our very youthful prime minister’s (see The Accidental Prime Minister) friend and – ahem – colleague, Ajay Patel, becomes the American President. Much mayhem and madcap adventure ensues. (Oxford UP, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9780192758989, find it at a Norfolk Library)

  • Back on Weird Street by Anne Fine

Published by Barrington Stoke and so  extra accessible to dyslexic readers, this is a short book featuring brother and sister Asim and Laila with their friend Tom, trying to scare each other by each telling a spooky story. (Barrington Stoke, £5.99 paperback, ISBN 9781781127889, find it at a Norfolk Library)

  • Isabel and Cloud (Unicorn Academy series) by Julie Sykes, illustrated by Lucy Truman

This is just one in a sparkly series for horse/unicorn lovers each featuring a girl with diverse physical characteristics; we only know that Isabel is a child of colour from the illustrations by Lucy Truman. The friends themselves are fairly two dimensional, so there is no probing of cultural difference or diversity, that is not the aim; it is a ‘safe’ happy read about magic and friendship. A title featuring a disabled rider would be good? (Nosy Crow, £5.99 paperback, ISBN 9781788001649, find it at a Norfolk Library)

  • We’re Getting a Cat! by Vivian French, illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino

A joyful picture book showing a mixed race family acquiring a cat. Dad is only acquiescing because he wants it to be a mouser, but despite Kevin’s (yes, Kevin’s the name!) reluctance to go after mice, even Dad comes to love him. Funny but informative too. (Walker Books, £11.99 hardback, ISBN 9781406372915, find it at a Norfolk Library)

  • Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwell

Jabari goes to the swimming pool with his dad and baby sister, fully intending to jump off the diving board – it looks so easy. But once there he’s not so sure. The pictures more than complement the text in conveying this small boy’s confidence ebbing away, his fear and finally his triumphant joy. (Walker Books, £7.99 paperback, ISBN 9781406380873, find it at a Norfolk Library)

  • Let’s Go to the Seaside! by Caryl Hart, illustrated by Lauren Tobia

Lauren Tobia can be relied on to portray the most adorable small children with confidence and warmth. This is the latest in a series of ‘First Experiences’ showing a diverse range of children enjoying different activities. (Walker Books, £11.99 hardback, ISBN 9781406361896, find it at a Norfolk Library)

  • Welcome to our World by Moira Butterfield, illustrated by Harriet Lynas

There is loads of information in this joyful celebration of children around the world, often of a quirky nature but which will appeal to young children’s curiosity. For instance a British owl may call ‘To-whit-to-woo’ but what sound do Syrian owls make (brrbr brrbr) or Russian ones (uh uh uh)? What does a Japanese child eat for breakfast, and how would they shout ‘hooray!’ (miso soup and ‘yattaaa!’)? A book to browse and share with a grown-up. (Nosy Crow, £12.99 hardback, ISBN 9781788001373, find it at a Norfolk Library)

  • Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 by Elena Favilli & Francesca Cavallo, with various illustrators

This is a second bulky volume of brief biographies of women from around the world who have triumphed in a wide variety of ways over an equally broad variety of obstacles. Many are still alive, a few date back several centuries, and it is probably safe to say that the majority of names are virtually unknown. The book is enhanced by the different styles of portraits made by 50 different artists. (Timbuktu Labs Inc, £25 hardback, ISBN 9780997895827, find it at a Norfolk Library)

We’ve also received some super animal picture books which can be thoroughly enjoyed by all, including this sensitive and warm look at a day in the life of a dad and his son – illustrated as animals but with very human emotions: Raj and the Best Day Ever! By Seb Braun

(Templar Publishing, £6.99 paperback, ISBN 9781787412347, find it at a Norfolk Library)

 

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