Inclusive children’s books for World Book Day
Books offer children a window on the world. They are places to start conversations, share feelings, nurture imaginations. They are also places children should feel seen: in the characters, the children and adults in the illustrations, the words on the page, the stories they tell.
According to BookTrust, in the last three years, however, only 7% of these books have Black or Brown protagonists. In 2017, this number was 1%. Black or Brown children are more likely to encounter animal characters than people who represent them.
We also need to see the representation of LGBTQIA+, learning differences, and the many versions of family in children’s books.
And we need to have these books on our bookshelves, at the fingertips of every child in every setting, to share, and to talk about.
In celebration of World Book Day we asked five people who are connected to working with children to share their favourite inclusive children’s book.
You will also find links to independent bookstores where you can purchase these and many other inclusive children’s books.
Visit these independent bookstores online
World Book Day choices for your bookshelf
Aaron Bradbury-Coffey's Choice
Daddy, Papa and Me
Written by Lesléa Newman and illustrated by Carol Thompson.
Rhythmic text and illustrations with universal appeal show a toddler spending the day with its daddies. From hide-and-seek to dress-up, then bath time and a kiss goodnight, there’s no limit to what a loving family can do together. Share the loving bond between same-sex parents and their children.
Aaron is Principal Lecturer in Early Years and Childhood (Learning and Development, Psychology, Special Educational Needs and Inclusion) at Nottingham Trent University. Aaron is the Chair of the LGBTQIA+ Early Years Working group and advocates for representation in the Early Years. He is a Member of the Coalition for the Early Years on the Birth to Five Matters and currently researching on Early Childhood workforce, The voice of the child, and Pioneers of Early Childhood. He is Co-Chair of the Early Years Academy and owner of Early Years Reviews, Team Early Childhood Podcast and Radio Host on Teacher Hug Radio for Early Years Childhood Chatter.
Liz Pemberton's Choice
The Adventures on Minwood Lane
Written by Kamilla Woodburn and illustrated by Emily Redfearn.
Mrs Allinson lives at No. 22 Minwood Lane, with her cat Ally Allinson.
She thinks she’s lived here for many years but now questions… is it just a few?!
Mrs Allinson is struggling to remember things, but has on ally that will stay with her forever.
Liz Pemberton runs a training and consultancy company, The Black Nursery Manager Ltd, whose mission is to promote inclusive practice in the Early Years education sector, with particular focus on how race, culture and anti-racism should be considered in this practice. She has a Masters degree in Early Childhood Studies and Qualified Teacher Status and has taught Early Childhood Studies and Health and Social Care to secondary school and sixth form students. Liz has a background in Nursery management. You can visit her Instagram page @theblacknurserymanager.
Joss Cambridge-Simmons' Choice
All Are Welcome
Written by Alexandra Penfold and illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman.
The #1 New York Times bestselling picture book, celebrating diversity and inclusivity. No matter how you start your day, What you wear when you play, Or if you come from far away, All are welcome here. Follow a group of children through a day in their school, where everyone is welcome. A school where children in patkas, hijabs, baseball caps and yarmulkes play side by side. A school where students grow and learn from each other’s traditions. A school where diversity is a strength. Warm and inspiring, All Are Welcome lets young children know that no matter what, they have a place, they have a space, and they are welcome in their school. Engaging lyrical text and bright, accessible illustrations make this book a must for every child’s bookshelf, classroom and library.
Joss Cambridge-Simmons is known as the UK’s leading ‘super manny’. He is the founder of Jossy Care, a leading childcare service, established in 2007. Joss is keen to address the male stereotypes within the childcare sector, as well as raising awareness on male self-care, mental health, wellbeing and love. He is passionate about caring for young children from birth to young adults – he has been called the ‘Baby Whisperer’! He has featured in media and publications including Timeout magazine, The Sun, and Now Chat Show. In 2019 Joss won the Gender category of the National Diversity Awards.
Leon Wenham's Choice
Julián is a Mermaid
Written and illustrated by Jessica Love (@jesslovedraws)
Mesmerizing and full of heart, this is a picture book about self-confidence and love, and a radiant celebration of individuality.
While riding the subway home with his Nana one day, Julián notices three women spectacularly dressed up. Their hair billows in brilliant hues, their dresses end in fishtails, and their joy fills the train carriage. When Julián gets home, daydreaming of the magic he’s seen, all he can think about is dressing up just like the ladies and making his own fabulous mermaid costume. But what will Nana think about the mess he makes – and even more importantly – what will she think about how Julián sees himself?
Leon Wenham is a single father living in London. He adopted his joyful and energetic son in April 2019. Leon is passionate about adoption and feels there is a lack of representation in the LGBT and black community within adopters from U.K. minorities. Across the board, these are in high demand so by speaking on this subject so publicly and candidly, Leon hopes he can encourage and inspire those from under-represented communities. He welcomes discussing sensitive issues around his culture and sexuality and shares his experience as a black gay adopter. He has been asked to work with Coram on their adoption panel. Leon has a picture book coming out called ‘You, me and lots and lots of love’.
Fifi Benham's Choice
Written and illustrated by Tom Percival
Norman had always been perfectly normal. That was until the day he grew a pair of wings!
Norman is very surprised to have wings suddenly – and he has the most fun ever trying them out high in the sky. But then he has to go in for dinner. What will his parents think? What will everyone else think? Norman feels the safest plan is to cover his wings with a big coat.
But hiding the thing that makes you different proves tricky and upsetting. Can Norman ever truly be himself?
Fifi has been working in Pre-schools as an early years educator for 5 years, been a SENCO for 2 years and became Deputy Manager. Fifi started a blog during lockdown about inclusion and activism in early years and, through that, has been engaging with a range of practitioners online who are also keen to keep pushing the sector forwards.