Yesterday The Guardian shared their research showing that the top 100 illustrated children’s books last year showed growing marginalisation of female and minority ethnic characters.
We take pride in stocking a diverse range of books and work hard to ensure every child can find themselves represented on our shelves. These beautifully diverse and gender-stereotype-squashing books are out there and this article highlights the importance of independent bookshops and booksellers who can get them into children’s hands.
We’ve put together a gallery of fantastic picture books that fit the criteria, available now or being published in the next few months. Look at them all! Aren’t they stunning. We would be very happy to share these books with you and will be adding them to our online shop over the next week. If you would like to order any now, contact us at the shop and we will work our bookseller magic.
BAME female characters in picture books.
Are there any brilliant books you would like to see added to our gallery? Comment on this post or get in touch via social media and share your favourites.
I Am Not A Number is a politically charged book that thrills with tension. A The Handmaid’s Tale for teens, it is inspired by the holocaust and the current rise in fascism. Reading Ruby’s story is all the more terrifying because it poses the question of whether it could happen today.
I Am Not A Number has all of Lisa’s trademark harrowing grittiness and the stunning, award-winning writing that has gained her so many fans. It is not easy to read about the prejudice and the terrifying events that occur in the camp but we don’t pick up Lisa Heathfield’s books for an easy read. We turn to them to have our eyes opened and to see inside the darkness. To see through the fake news and behind the gloss and filters to the bitter truth of prejudice and division. Lisa’s books make us contemplate a future out of our control, and help us to understand the darker realities of our world and what we need to do to change them.
Ultimately, I Am Not A Number is about the power of hope and is a celebration of the inspirational young people who are standing up to prejudice and are campaigning for a better more inclusive future. It shines a light in the darkness of political campaigns filled with hatred, fake news, and segregation, and offers another option. One of hope and a future of compassion and equality.
The Dragon in the Library is a fun, fast-paced adventure packed with mild peril and magic. It’s also a brilliant celebration of the power of reading and the special role that libraries play in the world. With tons of lively illustrations by David Ortu and a wonderfully diverse cast of characters, this book will appeal to newly confident readers. Perfect for Key Stage 1, here’s a sneak peek inside…
LouieStowell has kindly answered some of our burning questions…
Q: What are your top tips for budding authors learning to write funny books?
A: Think about what makes YOU laugh. The more fun you have while you’re writing something, the more other people will find it funny. Also, here are a few simple tips for writing humour:
1) Characters who don’t realise they’re doing something (this is called lack of self-knowledge), especially very pompous characters. Make them do really silly things while insisting that they are serious people who should be taken VERY seriously. This works especially well with adult characters.
2) Read a lot of funny books. The funny will seep into your blood without you noticing. Funny is infectious. You can also, if you’re hardcore, study funny books. When you laugh, think… what did the writer do that made me laugh?
3) Poo. See also farts, burps, wee, vomit.
Q: What is your best tip for kids who are struggling with reading (if a dragon isn’t available)
A: Comics! I have always loved comics, and I think they’re for everyone, from the biggest bookworms to people who’d rather be doing almost anything else except read. It’s a different type of storytelling, and it hooks into a different bit of your brain somehow. Whether you like stories about everyday life or ones about superheroes, there are so many amazing comics out there to discover. Always happy to give recommendations! I’m a big fan of The Phoenix, a weekly comic, but also book series like Amulet – a magical adventure involving giant robots.
Q: What is your fave dragon fact?
A: I love that dragons turn up in mythology all over the world and that, in some countries, such as China, they’re seen as the good guys. I’m Team Dragon, so I appreciate that.
Q: And now.. the killer question… Wow us with something we didn’t already know…
A: Tardigrades – also known as water bears or moss piglets – are microscopic (aka very tiny) creatures that can survive almost anything. They’re so tough they could survive in outer space, or in a volcano. They’re also adorable. Look!
Huge thanks to Louie for sharing her answers and freaking us all out with tardigrades! You can follow Louie on twitter here.
You can grab your copy of The Dragon in the Library from our online shop here!
The concept of discussing the changes and worries of puberty with our children can be overwhelming. What better to support you and your children through this emotional time than a tried-and-tested book?
We recommend Usborne’s What’s Happening To Me? series for reliable, kid-friendly (and parent-friendly) advice and information. You can get 10% off these fab books by using code puberty10 during checkout.
These books are contemporary and immensely accessible. Filled with all the information young people will need to know and no-nonsense answers to all their burning questions, this series provides an excellent springboard for discussion. It doesn’t talk down to children or try to make light of the changes they will be going through. Instead it provides clear facts and information, talks about how they may be feeling and gives supportive advice about staying healthy and positive.
Don’t be put off by the gendered covers. These are a far more inclusive than the pink and blue suggests.
A sensitive, detailed and informative guide to puberty, this book will prove invaluable for both children and their parents alike, tackling key subjects from the physical changes that occur at this time to emotional upheaval this can cause.
Bright, original colour illustrations and diagrams reveal everything young people need to know about the changes they will experience as they approach puberty.
The stunning artwork is accompanied by witty, yet clear and informative factual text that helps to demystify this often confusing and tricky subject.
Approved by a team of top-notch consultants, this remarkable and reassuring book is entertaining, approachable and authoritative.
The first in a new series, this is a heartwarming tale of family, friendship and following your dreams.
Mari is a fiercely determined and independent young scientist and we loved all the brilliant references to Mary Anning and women in science. There’s also some lovely swapping of gender stereotypes here. A brilliant book for the little feminists in your life.
And who could resist a tiny dragon that can curl its tiny tail round your finger but also burn your school down with one burp?! A perfect book for all budding scientists, adventurers and animal lovers.
We love the cover illustration by Ben Mantle and really do want our very own Gweeb to live in our shop.
Katherine Rundell writes sentences that you wish you could hold in your heart. Her superpower in The Good Thieves is her ability to write characters who burn with bravery and a fierce sense of injustice.
This is a story full of heart as well as adventure. The extraordinary world of tumbledown castles, terrifying gangsters and forbidden heists becomes the backdrop for acts of daring, kindness and respect.
We loved this story of loyalty, friendship and overcoming the odds. Great for 10+
We always get excited by a new book from Pushkin Children’s Books. They consistently deliver something different that makes you look at the world through fresh eyes. Lampie and the Children of the Sea is a joy to read; quirky and filled with wonder.
There is something of The Secret Garden here, in the monster in the tower, the slowly building friendships, and in the fear and distrust that dissolve into something magical.
Lampie is fierce and determined and filled with questions and doubts. The richly diverse cast of characters come together beautifully in a Greatest Showman, This is Me moment.
It’s a beautiful book about standing up against injustice, fighting for what you deserve rather than settling for what life has handed you. Above all it is about being fiercely, proudly, determinedly you.
A masterclass in writing, perfect for any budding young authors and adventure-lovers. 12+
We love this fast-paced and addictive read. Meat Market is Juno Dawson at her best; accomplished writing, beautifully diverse characters that dig into your head and heart, and a powerful storyline that is all too relevant.
Jana is immensely relatable. She is every young woman facing the challenges of growing up in this image-centric world. Just as Jana is pulled into the chaos of the fashion industry, we were swept along, unable to put Meat Market down, binge-reading all the way to that perfect, perfect ending. Jana’s downfall feels inevitable and inescapable, yet this is a hugely positive book with a powerful and hopeful ending.
A brilliant book that highlights the importance of friendship, standing up for what you believe in and being true to yourself in a world that often tries to tell young women otherwise. A must for raising the consciousness of the fashion-conscious.
Eleven-year-old Casper Tock hates risks, is allergic to adventures and shudders at the thought of unpredictable events. So, it comes as a nasty shock to him when he accidentally stumbles into Rumblestar, an Unmapped Kingdom full of magical beasts.
All Casper wants is to find a way home, but Rumblestar is in trouble. An evil harpy called Morg is sending her followers, the Midnights, into the kingdom to wreak havoc and pave the way for her to steal the Unmapped magic for herself. But Casper cannot turn a blind eye because the future of his own world, he discovers, is bound up with that of the Unmapped Kingdoms.
And so, together with Utterly Thankless, a girl who hates rules and is allergic to behaving, and her miniature dragon, Arlo, Casper embarks upon an adventure full of cloud giants, storm ogres and drizzle hags. Can he, Utterly and Arlo, the unlikeliest of heroes, save the Unmapped Kingdoms and our world from the clutches of Morg and her Midnights?
Live a life filled with adventure with Abi Elphinstone in this brand NEW series where a whole new world is waiting to be discovered…
We adore this book! Abi Elphinstone has an incredible imagination and a real skill for world building. Filled with Faraway Tree style magic and a fair amount of wit, Rumblestar is wise and full of heart. Casper is an unlikely hero and Utterly is a fierce engineering prodigy – both fantastic characters, role-models and gender-stereotype-squashers. Follow them through glorious darkness, mild-peril and edge of your seat adventure. Think Narnia meets Maleficent. We cant wait to see what happens next in The Unmapped Chronicles series.
You can pre-order a PERSONALISED SIGNED COPY of this fantastic new book here.
Nobody visits Eerie-on-Sea in the winter. Especially not when darkness falls and the wind howls around Maw Rocks and the wreck of the battleship Leviathan, where even now some swear they have seen the unctuous Malamander creep… Herbert Lemon, Lost-and-Founder at the Grand Nautilus Hotel, knows that returning lost things to their rightful owners is not easy – especially when the lost thing is not a thing at all, but a girl.
No one knows what happened to Violet Parma’s parents twelve years ago, and when she engages Herbie to help her find them, the pair discover that their disappearance might have something to do with the legendary sea-monster, the Malamander.
Eerie-on-Sea has always been a mysteriously chilling place, where strange stories seem to wash up. And it just got stranger…
We love Malamander for it’s twists and turns and mild peril. It’s a magical mystery that had us holding our breath and wishing we could have our own book prescription from the Eerie book dispensary. Brilliant for brave adventurers 9+.
We can’t wait to see what happens in the next book in the series!