Books to help you diversify reading in your school

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We’re delighted to be supporting Penguin and The Runnymede Trust’s Lit in Colour initiative to encourage a greater diversity in children’s reading. Their recent research, which you can read more about in this earlier blog post, uncovered that many young people in UK schools are not given enough opportunity to read and study books by Black, Asian and minority ethnic writers. But they also found that it can be hard to know where to start when it comes to finding books to diversify your school curriculum. To help you take some first steps, here’s a selection of books that reflect a wider diversity of authors – and characters – that you might want to consider when you’re updating your bookshelves. 

You can find lots more ideas, guidance and support to start the conversation about diversifying literature in your school in our getting started guide for primary schools – it makes a great framework for a staff meeting. Download it here.

Hip and Hop cover

Hip and Hop: You Can Do Anything
Written by Akala and illustrated by Sav Akyuz
Age 2+

Packed full of rhyme and rhythm, this picture book by the MOBO award-winning hip hop artist Akala aims to inspire children to grow up as happy, emotionally intelligent and socially responsible. Hip, a wise hippo, and his energetic bird friend, Hop, are taking part in the Blueberry Hill bike race. Hop struggles at first, but with help from Hip, they learn that you can achieve anything you put your mind to.

Buy Hip and Hop: You Can Do Anything on Amazon.

Big cover

Big
By Sav Akyuz
Age 2+

After watching his brother having all the fun, a young boy wishes he was BIG. When his dream comes true, the city becomes his playground. But as he keeps getting bigger and bigger, he realises that sometimes it’s good to be small! This mostly wordless story is a celebration of growing up that will develop children’s visual literacy.

Buy Big on Amazon.

Hero Academy Non-fiction Get Well Soon cover

Hero Academy Non-fiction
Oxford Levels 1-6 (Reception-Year 1/P1-2)

Meet real-life heroes and celebrate key workers with the new Hero Academy Non-fiction series. These texts, which are aligned to Letters and Sounds, will open up conversations about wellbeing and encourage your class to develop the characteristics of kindness, helpfulness and personal responsibility while consolidating their phonics learning and improving their reading fluency.

Discover the Hero Academy Non-fiction series.

Word Sparks Cooking for Mum cover

Cooking for Mum
Word Sparks 
Oxford Level 4 (Year 1/P2)

Yash and Meena make some rotis for Mum in this partner text from the Word Sparks series, which features fully-decodable books that tackle the word gap too. As a partner text, it’s designed for an adult and child to read together. There’s richer language for the adult to read, alongside phonically decodable text for the child.

Take a look at the whole Word Sparks Level 4 pack or buy Cooking for Mum on Amazon.

Ballet Bunnies cover

Ballet Bunnies
Written by Swapna Reddy and illustrated by Binny Talib
Age 5–7 (Year 1–3/P2–4)  

Join aspiring ballet dancer Millie and her bunny friends as they learn to dance together. This series from Swapna Reddy and Binny Talib is perfect for early readers and children who are learning a new skill, not to mention a must-read for young ballet fans. 

Take a look at the whole Ballet Bunnies series

Maggie Aderin-Pocock: Space Scientist cover

Maggie Aderin-Pocock: Space Scientist
TreeTops inFact
Oxford Level 16 (Year 4–6/P5–7) 

Maggie Aderin-Pocock is one of the UK’s leading space scientists. Find out how she was inspired by TV, struggled at school and followed her dreams, in this fascinating biography that’s great for inspiring girls to pursue careers in STEM and full of lots of fun facts about women in space.

Take a look at the whole Treetops inFact Levels 16–17 pack or buy Maggie Aderin-Pocock: Space Scientist on Amazon.

Owl

This book is also available as part of the Oxford Owl eBook Library subscription.

TreeTops Reflect Georgie and Me cover

Georgie and Me
TreeTops Reflect
Oxford Level 17 (Year 5/P6)

TreeTops Reflect is perfect for diversifying your bookshelves with stories set around the world that are designed to make children think and empathise with characters who are different to them. Our current favourite is Georgie and Me, a comforting story about a young girl with friendship troubles, who longs, more than anything, for a pet dog.

Find out more about the TreeTops Reflect series or buy Georgie and Me on Amazon.

Owl

This book is also available as part of the Oxford Owl eBook Library subscription.

Super-Readable Rollercoasters Rat

Rat
Super-Readable Rollercoasters
Written by Patrice Lawrence
Age 11+ (Year 6/P7 and beyond)

If you haven’t already got some books by award-winning author Patrice Lawrence in your Year 6 classroom, she’s sure to be a new favourite! This is a moving story of community, loneliness, and how you never quite know what’s going on in someone else’s life. It’s great for building vocabulary and supports closing the word gap at transition

Find out more about Super-Readable Rollercoasters or buy Rat on Amazon


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We hope those books give you plenty of inspiration! You might also find this book audit from Lit in Colour handy to help you think about the books you already have in school and you can get even more reading recommendations in The (incomplete) Lit in Colour book lists.

Be sure to check our Lit in Colour webpage regularly for all the latest free resources to support you with diversifying reading, including an exciting new podcast series hosted by Shareen Wilkinson! 

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