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As a mother of three girls aged 12, 13 and 16, I have always read to my children and continue to encourage them to read widely. My husband and I have made a conscious effort to build a small library for the girls and over the years, we have acquired a wonderful collection of books. Although, I find that as the girls get older, we tend to give away some of the books and only hold on to the ones they truly cherish.
The books listed below are a combination of my children’s favourites and others have been recommended by friends and family. These books are not only aimed at Black parents, but every parent who wants to educate their children about different cultures. It is very important for all children to see themselves represented in books, especially in the books they love to read.
I have selected a range of books which are ideal for preschoolers and primary school children. From this, I do hope you will find at least a couple of books to add to your own child’s library.
A colourful and beautifully illustrated book about a little girl and her adventures in a small Kenyan village in Africa. Your child will learn about various kinds of tropical fruits and animals in Africa. It is perfect for reading together at storytime and my children loved it.
2. Girl Wonder and the Terrific Twins, Malorie Blackman, Tamarind, 2014 – suitable for 7-9
This book is by one of my favourite children’s authors, Malorie Blackman, the award-winning writer. She has an amazing way of writing, which captures the imagination of young readers. This book includes nine funny adventure short stories about a little girl and her twin brothers. My daughter Abigail loved these stories and went on to read the other two in the series: Girl Wonder to the Rescue and Girl Wonder’s Winter Adventures.
3. Antidote, Malorie Blackman, Penguin, 2011 – suitable for 9 -11
Another excellent book by the bestselling children’s author Malorie Blackman. A great read for kids with a good serving of mystery, adventure, sci-fi and all the ingredients that make it hard to put down. All three of my daughters enjoyed reading this brilliant book and it also comes with excellent reviews.
4. Philly & Friends: Who do I see in the Mirror, Vese Aghoghobia, Philly & Belle Publishing, 2019 – suitable for preschool
A wonderful book for young readers, beautifully illustrated and one to be treasured. I think it is a book every little girl should own and one that will help build their self-esteem from an early age. It is highly recommended and should make a wonderful addition to your child’s library.
5. So Much, Trish Cooke, Walker Books, 2008 – suitable for preschoolers
This is by far one of my children’s favourite books, it captures the warmth and love of a Caribbean household. When my kids were little, it wasn’t uncommon for my husband or I to read this book several times before bedtime. The girls have asked me specifically not to give this book away. Also, if you like this book, I would suggest Full, Full, Full of Love by the same author.
6. Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History, Vashti Harrison, Puffin, 2019 – suitable for 3+
An educational and inspiring book about Black history featuring 40 trailblazing Black women from the past and present. What I love about this bestseller is that it features both American and British women, giving it an international appeal. You will enjoy reading the biographies of these incredible and brave women with your child.
7. Coming to England, Floella Benjamin, Macmillan, 2020 - suitable for 3-5
An autobiographical book by one of my favourite children’s presenters, Baroness Floella Benjamin. When my oldest daughter Priscilla was little, she never missed ‘Mama Mirabelle’s Home Movies’ on CBeebies, which was voiced by Floella Benjamin. Coming to England is an inspiring true story about her journey from the sunny Island of Trinidad to England. It is beautifully illustrated and highly recommended.
8. Sulwe, Lupita Nyong’o, Puffin, 2021 – suitable for 4+
A beautifully illustrated book that deals thoughtfully with the important topics of race and colourism. It is a wonderful book that teaches young readers about inner beauty. This book is also one of my god-daughter's favourite books and it comes with excellent reviews.
9. Look Up, Nathan Bryon and Dapo Adeola, Puffin, 2019 – suitable for 3+
A bestseller with wonderful reviews - this book will encourage an interest in science and space. I do love the fun and colourful illustrations, which help to convey the story of Rocket, an aspiring astronaut. I think every child should own a copy of this book – it is excellent in every way.
10. Cocoa Girl Awesome Hair, Serlina Boyd, Farshore, 2021 – suitable for 4+
This beautiful book is a celebration of Kids’ Afro hair including tips on styling and hair care. It is an excellent reference book for your child’s library and one that girls would love to consult for hairstyle ideas. Delightful book with excellent reviews.
11. Onyeka and the Academy of the Sun, Tola Okogwu, Simon & Schuster Children's UK, 2022 – suitable for 8+
A fantastic book for kids who love action packed super-hero themed books, and this one delivers on every level. The book is about a girl who discovers that she has supernatural powers channeled through her incredibly huge afro hair! Your child will love going on an amazing adventure with Onyeka and her friends at the super-hero school. A terrific book with excellent reviews.
12. Carribean Dozen: Poems from Thirteen Caribbean Poets, Walker Books, first published in 1994 – suitable for 7-12
This one is a keeper and one to be treasured for a long time. This book was a gift from my sister-in-law, and it is bursting with poems from various Caribbean islands. My children loved reading this collection of humorous and lyrical poems, which expresses the beauty of the Caribbean. A more recent version was published in 2020.
Some of the books above can be purchased from the independent Black-owned book shops below:
Written by Vy Evans, owner of Rainbow & Ginger London, an online Kids' Hair Accessories brand.
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