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Why we need diverse books

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Jon Biddle, the Reading Champion for Moorlands Primary School, has given us his recommendations for books to support children engaging in Black History Month. He continues the story:

“Books can play a hugely important role as mirrors for children. The characters they encounter and the stories they read affect how they view themselves and their world, how they learn to empathise with others and how they feel about their ethnicity, race and cultural background. Although there has been a slight increase in the number of children’s books featuring diverse characters published and sold over the past few years, there is still a long way to go to achieve representation that actually reflects the UK population. Below is a small selection that I highly recommend.

Rhythm and Poetry by Karl Nova – Karl’s debut collection of poems, a semi-autobiographical journey viewed through a lens of rap and hip-hop culture, is one of the most honest and raw poetry anthologies that’s been released in a long time. Perfect for Year Six and upwards.

“­­­Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy by Bre Indigo and Rey Terciero – A modern retelling of Little Women in graphic novel form. The changing relationships between the family members are beautifully depicted, with each sister having to address their own particular set of challenges.

Planet Omar, Accidental Trouble Magnet by Zanib Mian and Nasaya Mafaridik – A novel which provides into a hilarious insight into the everyday dramas of Omar and his family. As well as issues with his home life, he has to cope with moving house, the school bully and becoming stranded on a trip to London.

The Proudest Blue by Ibtihaj Muhammad and Hatem Aly – Faizah is looking forward to her first day of school but not everyone loves her sister’s hijab as much as she does. With support from their friends and family, the sisters find new ways to be strong and proud of their beliefs.

“All children should be able to see themselves in the books they read, with their own experiences being celebrated and recognised as worthy of exploration. Therefore, as educators, we need to be committed to providing our students with quality inclusive and representative books to ensure that this happens.”