Equality & Diversity through Literature

Now more than ever, people across the world are coming together and striving to learn more about racism and diversity.  Understanding diversity is more important than ever and reading is a good starting point for learning, discussion and change.

Here’s are a few recommendations from our library, Kent Libraries, of titles to support a wider understanding of racism and tolerance;

▪️White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
▪️Kill the Black One First by Michael Fuller
▪️The Rebellious Life of Mrs Rosa Parks by Jeanne Theoharis
▪️I am Rosa Parks by Brad Meltzer (for children)
▪️Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward
▪️Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin
▪️Bluebird Bluebird by Attica Locke
▪️I’m not Dying with you Tonight by Gilly Segal & Kimberly Jones
▪️Everywhere you don’t Belong: a novel by Gabriel Bump
▪️The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
▪️The Life of Stephen Lawrence by Verna Allette Wilkins

You can access Kent Libraries eLibrary online.

Professor Rudine Sims Bishop, an American specialist in Children’s Literature Studies, famously stated that;

“Books are sometimes windows, offering views of worlds that may be real or imagined, familiar or strange.  These windows are also sliding glass doors, and readers have only to walk through in imagination to become part of whatever world has been created…When lighting conditions are just right, however, a window can also be a mirror.  Literature transforms human experience and reflects it back to us…we can see our own lives and experiences as part of the larger human experience.”

We support the view it is important for children to be able to see themselves mirrored in the books they read, as well as undertake journeys in literature where they are able to look through windows and open sliding glass doors to worlds that may differ to their own.

With this in mind, we also would like to share the below reading list aimed at children to help them learn about race, racism, culture and diversity. Many of these aim to address the lack of representation in children’s literature.

Early Years
Please, Baby, Please by Spike Lee and Tonya Lewis Lee
Hair Love by Matthew Cherry
Daddy Calls Me Man by Angela Johnson
Riley Knows He Can by Davina Hamilton
Big Hair, Don’t Care by Crystal Swain-Bates
Don’t Touch My Hair! by Sharee Miller
The Goggle-Eyed Goats by Stephen Davies and Christopher Core
Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
Ruby’s Worry by Tom Percival
Look Up! By Nathan Byron
My Pet Star by Corrine Averiss and Rosalind Beardshaw
My Hair by Hannah Lee
Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion by Alex T Smith
Izzy Gizmo by Pip Jones
So Much by Trish Cooke
Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
Cendrillon by Robert D. Sans Souci
The Skin I’m In: A First Look at Racism by Pat Thomas
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
A Poem for Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Harlem’s Little Blackbird by Renee Watson
We Are Grateful, Otsaliheliga by Traci Sorell
Rosa by Nikki Giovanni
Coretta Scott by Ntozoke Shange
We Were Alone by David A Robertson
Preaching to the Chickens by Jabari Asim
The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson
Ada Twist (series) by Andrea Beaty
Ramadan Moon by Naima B Robert

Key Stage One
The Colour of Home by Mary Hoffman
Amazing Grace (series) by Mary Hoffman
Billy and the Beast by Nadia Shireen
Lila and the Secret of Rain by David Conway
The Naughiest Unicorn by Pip Bird
Two Sides by Polly Ho-yen and Binny Talib
Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke
Little People, Big Dreams (series including Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, Martin Luther King Jr, Ella Fitzgerald and more)
If all the World Were… by Joseph Coelho
Super Duper You by Sophy Henn
The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad
Lovely by Jess Hong
Let it Shine by Andrea Davis Pinkney
Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan
Separate is Never Equal by Duncan Tonatiuh
Let’s Talk About Race by Julius Lester
Race Cards by Jenny Devenny
My Hair is a Garden by Cozbi A Cabrera
Moses by Carole Boston Weatherford
The Legendary Miss Lena Horne by Carole Boston Weatherford
That’s Not Fair! By Carmen Tafolla and Sharyll Teneyuca
Malcolm Little by Ilyasah Shabazz
Amazing Africa by Atinuke

Lower Key Stage Two
Grandpa Chatterjee by Jamila Gavin
Fruits by Valerie Bloom
High Rise Mystery by Sharna Jackson
Mic Drop by Sharna Jackson
The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Rauf
The Star Outside by Window by Onjali Rauf
Counting on Katherine by Helaine Becker
Agent Zaiba Investigates by Annabelle Sami
Cyborg Cat by Ade Adepitan
Planet Omar (series) by Zanib Mian
Cookie! By Konnie Huq
Sam Wu Is Not Afraid of Ghosts by Katie and Kevin Tsang
Anisha, Accidental Detective by Serena Patel
Now or Never by Bali Rai
My Family and Other Ghosts by Lou Kuenzler
Young, Gifted and Black by Jamia Wilson
The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson
Varjak Paw by SF Said
The Girl Who Stole an Elephant by Nizrana Farouk
Rhythm and Poetry by Karl Nova
Asha and the Spirit Bird by Jasminder Bilan

Upper Key Stage Two
Journey to Joburg by Beverley Naidoo
The Other Side of Truth by Beverley Naidoo
Pig-heart Boy by Malorie Blackman
Role of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D Taylor
Boy in the Tower by Polly Ho-Yen
A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby
Ghost by Jason Reynolds (part of a series, including Patina and Sunny)
Little Badman (series) by Humza Arshad and Henry White
A Little Piece of Ground by Elizabeth Laird
Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird
You Must be Laila by Yassmin Abdel-Magied
The Summoner (series) by Taran Matharu
Ms Marvel by Willow Wilson, Saladin Ahmed, Rainbow Rowell and Hasan Minhaj
The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis
The Arrival by Shaun Tan
Blackberry Blue by Jamila Gavin
Where the River Runs Gold by Sita Brahmachari
Stories for South Asian Supergirls by Raj Kaur Khaira
Rebound by Kwame Alexander

For more titles featuring BAME characters or featuring BAME authors, please look the following small publishing houses:

Knights Of
Tiny Owl
Dinosaur Books
Lantana Publishing
Alanna Max
Tamarind Press
Cassava Republic Press
Kashi House Publishing

With special thanks to, Ameena Gamiet, a Year 6 Teacher and English Lead, for sharing these children’s reading lists with us. If you would like further advice on children’s literature to support diversity please contact: ameena.gamiet@gmail.com

We hope you find these reading lists beneficial.

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