Sulwe by Lupita Nyong'o & Vashti Harrison (2019)

Written by Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o, this story of Sulwe gently introduces children to the concepts of colourism, self-confidence, and inner beauty. Stunningly illustrated by Vashti Harrison, Sulwe is the tale of a little girl who has a darker skin tone than her family and school friends. All she wants is to be lighter, until one night she goes on a magical adventure, and her mind opens up to her natural beauty.

Recommended reading age: 3-7 years old

Hair Love by Matthew Cherry & Vashti Harrison (2019)

Based on the Oscar-winning short film, this is the story of Zuri, her dad, and her hair. Zuri's hair is beautiful, but it can have a mind of its own. For a special occasion, Zuri and her daddy need to work together to style her hair, and show that natural is brilliant! A wonderful book that celebrates the love of fathers and daughters, as well as putting black hair front and centre.

Recommended reading age: 5-7 years

Little Leaders: Exceptional Men in Black History by Vashti Harrison 

All throughout history, Black men have stood up and fought for justice and what they believe in. This book tells the stories of 40 Black men, from campaigners, athletes, fashion journalists, and musicians who realised their dreams and made the world a better place. Read about the amazing lives of Prince, Paul Stephenson, and Kofi Annan with your own future little leader and learn about these great men together.

Recommended reading age: 5-7 years old

Clean Up! by Nathan Bryon & Dapo Adeola (2020)

Rocket is back and this time she sets off on a mission to save a Caribbean island from plastic pollution! When Rocket goes for a holiday to visit her grandparents, she's shocked by the pollution that is spoiling their island home and putting the local sea life at risk. Can she think of a way to save the day?

Recommended reading age: 5-7 years old

Magic Betsey by Malorie Blackman (2014)

This book is one of five short story collections featuring Betsey Biggalow. Betsey puts on a magic show but everyone is less than impressed with her tricks. No matter – in these four sweet and funny short stories, Betsey learns the importance of believing in yourself, that practise makes perfect, and that some magic is real...

Recommended reading age: 5-7 years

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña & Christian Robinson (2017)

On this rainy, wet Sunday after church, CJ doesn’t want to ride the bus across town with his grandma. Why don’t they have a car like his friend Colby? The other boys on the bus have an iPod – where’s his? For every dissatisfied question from CJ, grandma has an encouraging and supportive answer – as only grandmothers can. She helps him see the beauty and fun in their routine and the world surrounding them. This wonderful, award-winning picture book is radiantly illustrated by Christian Robinson. It perfectly highlights the magical bond between grandparents and grandchildren – and how to be thankful for what you do have, instead of dwelling on what you don’t. 

Recommended reading age: 3-5 years old

The New Small Person by Lauren Child (2014)

Elmore Green is perfectly happy as an only child, thank you very much. He has his own room and no one will eat his orange jelly beans because his parents do not eat jelly beans. But then the new small person comes along. And everything changes! Suddenly Elmore Green thinks he might not be everyone’s favourite after all… In this vibrant picture book, Children’s Laureate Lauren Child explores the familiar tale of sibling insecurities with warmth, insight, and humour, all in her inimitable style. 

Recommended reading age: 3-6 years old

Look Up! By Nathan Bryon & Dapo Adeola (2019)

Rocket loves to look up at the stars. She wants to be an astronaut after all, just like her hero Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman in space. Packed with fun facts about meteors and space to satisfy those curious minds, this charming picture book is laden with gorgeous illustrations that will convince the most phone-mad kids to get excited about the natural world, just like Rocket. Challenging traditional gender norms, Look Up! will show space-mad readers that the sky really is the limit.

Recommended reading age: 3-7 years old

The Silence Seeker by Ben Morley & Carl Pearce (2009)

The new family next door are asylum seekers, hoping for peace and calm in this noisy, busy city. But to Joe, they are ‘silence seekers’, and when he sees his young neighbour looking sad on the steps, he makes a vow. Joe wants to help his neighbour find a place for himself in this city Joe calls home – now his neighbours’ home too. This moving tale provides the perfect way to open up gentle and thoughtful discussion around the refugee crisis.

Recommended reading age: 5-7 years old

Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History by Vashti Harrison (2018)

From singer Ella Fitzgerald to abolitionist Sojourner Truth, pilot Bessie Coleman to poet Maya Angelou and so many more, this educational and inspirational book features biographies of forty trailblazing black women in history. They may not have always been accepted, but with their powerful voices, extraordinary actions, and unswayable beliefs, each one has made the world a better place for generations to come. These brave, bold black women broke boundaries and exceeded all expectations – their stories demand to be told. 

Recommended reading age: 5-7 years old

Hilo: The Boy who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick (2016)

D.J. and Gina may be totally normal kids, but their new friend Hilo isn’t! With no idea where he came from, what he’s doing on Earth or why he needs to wear more than just his underwear to school, the trio has a mystery to solve. Can they discover the secrets of Hilo’s past, and more importantly, how will Hilo survive a day at school? Don’t miss this laugh-out-loud story of unlikely friendships – and the occasional mutant robot ant…

Recommended reading age: 7-12 years old

Blackberry Blue and Other Fairy Tales by Jamila Gavin (2013)

This collection of original, beautifully written stories – stunningly illustrated by Richard Collingridge – will lead you into a captivating world. You’ll encounter talking animals and wicked witches, magicians, and enchanted forests as you watch Blackberry Blue rise from the bramble patch, follow Emeka the pathfinder on his mission to save a lost king, and join Princess Desire as she gallops across the Milky Way on her jet-black horse… Perfect for readers of all ages, these magical tales will thrill and enchant them again and again.

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

Fly Me Home by Polly Ho-Yen (2017)

As she struggles to adjust to life in a new country, Leelu dreams of flying back home to her father and the life she left behind. London is grey and cold, there’s concrete everywhere; she doesn’t want to be here. Leelu feels so lonely – but she’s not alone. Soon she discovers someone is leaving gifts for her, wondrous gifts that bring her curious magical powers. Will they help her find her way home? Filled with magic, family, and friendship, this is an unforgettable and moving tale of one family’s battle to belong. 

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

The Young Magicians and The Thieves' Almanac by Nick Mohammed (2017)

Four unlikely friends. One world-famous conjuring club. And a set of impossible crimes… Meet Alex (doesn’t say much), Zack (expert pickpocket), Sophie (the nifty hypnotist), and Jonny (very tall). Together they are The Young Magicians, ready to go beyond the blue door of the Magic Circle in search of a secret book and an adventure they’ll never forget… Humorous and engaging, this is the perfect book for junior readers, filled with adventure, friendship, and fun.

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

The Lost Hero: The Graphic Novel by Rick Riordan (2014)

In this beautifully illustrated graphic novel, Jason, Piper, and Leo have crash-landed at Camp Half-Blood, where rumours of a terrible curse – and a missing hero – abound. It seems they are the chosen ones who must embark on a terrifying new quest, to be completed by the winter solstice... in just four days’ time. Can the trio succeed in their dangerous quest – and what must they sacrifice in order to survive? This unputdownable graphic novel – adapted with the help of Robert Venditti, Nate Powell and Orpheus Collar – is packed with adventure, legends, and monsters and is a must-have for every Percy Jackson and Heroes of Olympus fan. 

Recommended reading age: 9-12 years old

Pig-Heart Boy by Malorie Blackman (2004)

When you’re 13, you just want a normal life. To be like all the other teenagers, doing normal things. But most teenagers don’t need heart transplants. You’re the unlucky one. You think there’s no chance to live an ordinary life… but what if you’re wrong? What if there’s a doctor who says there might be a chance for you – though it’s risky. It’s experimental and controversial – and it’s never been done before… A powerful, thought-provoking story from the brilliant, award-winning Malorie Blackman, shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal.

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk (2017)

What does it mean to be a family? In this beautifully written and heart-wrenching story, 12-year-old Crow explores questions of her own identity and where she truly belongs. Abandoned when she was hours old, Crow was found on a boat and raised on a tiny island by Osh, her rescuer, and Miss Maggie, their fierce and affectionate neighbour. One night, after the appearance of a mysterious fire across the water, Crow begins to question her own history, triggering an unstoppable – and dangerous – chain of events. 

Recommended reading age: 9-11 years old

How High the Moon by Karyn Parsons (2019)

Bullied for her light skin tone and missing her absent mother, life isn’t always sunny for 12-year-old Ella, growing up in segregated Alcolu in 1944. So, she’s ecstatic when her mother – pursuing her jazz singer dreams in Boston – invites her for Christmas. But whilst there, Ella discovers the secrets of her mother and the father she never knew – and her most unexpected family history. And upon her return to the South a month later, life changes even more with the news that her classmate has been arrested for the murder of two local white girls. Nothing will ever be the same…

Recommended reading age: 9-12 years old

The Hypnotist by Laurence Anholt (2016)

Officially endorsed by Amnesty International, this unforgettable debut novel is both a love story and a thriller. 13-year-old Pip has been hired as a farmhand by Mr. Zachery – but Pip is black, the farmer and his wife are white, and in 1960’s America, racism is rife. Meanwhile, Irishman Jack Morrow has arrived in the Deep South dreaming of a new life as a university professor. He carries with him a secret; certain skills in hypnotism and mind control. Now, as dangerous racial tensions threaten to overshadow everything, Pip and Jack’s lives become entwined and Jack's hypnotic skills are needed as never before…

Recommended reading age: 12+ years old

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