As a parent and as a teacher, it’s been my aim for the young people in my life to absolutely love reading and books. Being a British born Nigerian and having taught in Nigeria for a number of years, diverse books have become very important to me. This is because I believe that books aren’t just about “others”, But when we see people like ourselves in the media, including in fiction, we get a glimpse of who we might become, we feel validated and we feel relevant.

I totally recommend these diverse reads in no particular order and I hope you enjoy this list too.

1. Title: So Much!

  • Author: Trish Cooke
  • Illustrator: Helen Oxenbury
Diverse books for children

Chances are, if you grew up in London in the 90s you would have read this book at some point during your primary school program!

In recent years, this book resurfaced into my life when I read it to my pupils in classes. I then bought my own copy to enjoy at home and it’s a winner all around, very much loved by my pupils, son and myself so much (excuse the pun!) 

It’s starts off with mummy and baby at home seemingly having a chilled out day, then the story fills up with various family members turning up and lavishing attention on the baby in their own unique ways! A seemingly impromptu party takes place which is often the case in many black households and is a feature we can relate with! The story also mixes in Caribbean dialect, offering us readers an opportunity to practise our very best Patois when reading it!

This is a classic children’s book in my opinion!

 2. Title: Riley Can Be Anything

  • Author: Davina Hamilton
  • Illustrator: Elena Reinoso
Diverse books for black boys

This book is filled with undiluted encouragement and serves as a reminder to all kids that they can indeed be anything when they grow up! A range of occupations are explored and the rhyming sentences make it an enjoyable read for a wide range of ages. 

Often when I’ve read this with my son, it sparks another conversation about what he wants to be, and sure enough it changes every single time!

3. Title: Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History

  • Author & Illustrator: Vashsti Harrison
Books with character of colour for children

This book features 40 black women whose achievements are nothing short of amazing!

The women included range from the very famous e.g Oprah Winfrey, to the not so well known. I enjoyed discovering and learning about these women and their journeys and I know it’s a book that I’ll pick up again and again.

Another great thing about this book is that the women who feature have such varied fields, some were/are great entertainers, physicians, scientists, writers, activists and many more; there’s career inspiration for any young child within the stories of these women. The illustrations are also super cute!

All the women are illustrated with their eyes closed and depicted as “little learners” dressing up as the women whose stories are being told! I’d say that this book is great to use as a reference book in your home library. Older children can read it alone or it can be read to a younger child in small doses.

PS: My very own MP for my constituency, Diane Abbot, features in this book! (The UK edition). I didn’t realise just how much of a trailblazer she really is!

4. Title: Anansi stories

  • by various authors

I couldn’t write a piece on books without mentioning Anansi, he’s often depicted as a spider but sometimes he’s a man and he’s the trickster of all trickers in African-Caribbean literature!

There are many Anansi stories but one of my favourites is when Anansi tricks and captures the bees, snake and the leopard just so he can gain ownership of all the stories in the land! Behind every story there is a lesson to be learnt, whether it be on trust, respect, being humble or generosity. After reading a short Anansi story the most young reader will grasp “the moral of the story”!

5. Title: Dressed In Peace

  • Author & illustrator: Ny M Jones
Books about different culture for children

We witness an alien being introduced to characters of many different backgrounds in this book, making it a great way to introduce different cultures/religions to young learners.

My son recognised the way a few of the characters are dressed and enjoyed learning about the others that were new to him. Children (and adults too!) might study the colourful illustrations of the people and the various symbols on each page.

The reoccurring rhyming phrases in the story really drilled in on the fact that that we all may appear to be different actually we are all the same and indeed we all want love and hugs!

6. Title: Full, Full, Full of Love

  • Author: Trish Cooke
  • Illustrator: Paul Howard
Books about diversity for children

Yes! Another Trish Cooke book and this is one of my young son’s absolute favourite books!

It is essentially about all the family gathering together for Sunday lunch at Granny’s house. A little boy is with Granny, helping her to prepare for the weekly family ritual. My son especially loves this book because he loves to cuddle in exactly the same position as shown on the front cover! He also enjoys and recognises all the delicious foods mentioned in the story.

After reading this with your little ones you will definitely be left feeling warm inside with big smiles on your faces (and possibly hungry too!)

7. Title: Handas Surprise

  • Author & Illustrator: Eileen Browne
Books for children with diverse characters

This is another classic perfect for very young children.

Handa sets off on a journey to visit her friend and to surprise her with a selection of delicious tropical fruits. However, upon reaching her destination it’s not only Handa’s friend that gets a big surprise, Handa does too! This story is set in a Kenyan village with glorious illustrations that depict African village life beautifully. 

Handa’s surprise is followed by another title called “Handa’s Hen” which is a delightful counting story!

8. Title: My Friend Jen A Little Different

  • Author: Jenica Leah
  • Illustrator: Aditya Permana
Children's books about sickle cell and diversity

From the front cover of this book, you might have  no idea what it would be about!

But as you turn each page you will discovered a little girl who is full of life and smiles and has an amazing friend who really cares about her. For kids aged 5/6 and older, this book will educate them on what sickle cell is and some of the lifestyle adjustments a person with sickle cells needs to make. It’s not a sad book but very bright and uplifting.

The author has managed to balance awareness, kindness and hope all into one book! My son (aged 4) didn’t really grasp the sickle cell element to the story but he commented on the amazing friendship between the two characters and the kindness and care displayed from one friend to another! A great book to read.

9. Title: 15 things NOT to do with a baby

  • Author: Margaret McAllister
  • Illustrator: Holly Sterling
Books for children introducing new sibling

I’m sure there are way more than 15 things – however there are absolutely certain things you should DO with a baby! This story is totally perfect for any child that’s about to welcome a new sibling into the family! It’s witty and silly and your child/children will love it!

10. Title: Mixed Blessing

  • Author: Marsha Cosman
  • Illustrator: Kyra Kendall

Here we have a story which aims to celebrate mixed raced relationships and children!

Did you know that here in the UK, this is the fastest growing ethnic group in recent years? The author who is from the Caribbean and whom is married to a man from Ireland describes a time where she couldn’t find many books on this subject matter to help her son understand his mixed background; and therefore she wrote one. I found it so innocently cute reading the part about mixing ice cream together to illustrate “mixedraceness”!

With simple rhyming sentences and clear, crisp illustrations this story can serve as a perfect introduction to conversations surrounding race to little mixed race children if/when parents see this as necessary.

*Bonus +1 book!*

The Tinga Tinga Story Collection

Technically these stories don’t have diverse characters as such (the characters are all from the animal kingdom). However they are set in Africa and I just absolutely love them! Ever wondered why the giraffe has a long neck or why monkeys swing on trees? I’m sure the question of why the chameleon changes colour has crossed your mind at some point too! Well, the stories in the Tings Tinga collection have all the answers to these questions in addition to many more!

I guess that we (myself, my son and past pupils) all adore these stories because somewhere deep down we believe that they are quite possibly totally the truth!

These picture books feature amazing Tinga Tinga artwork which originates from Tanzania and honestly it’s just so stunning to look at. Highly recommended!

So there you have it, my top 10 plus 1! Have you or your kids read any of these? Share your other recommendations!

– Cynthia!


Read too: Am I reading enough to my child? and 6 Helpful Tips for Hiring a Great Nanny


15 COMMENTS

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15 Comments

  1. Barbara

    February 3, 2017 at 10:42

    Hi K! Nice read. I stumbled on your blog two days ago, and I must say that I have read almost all the articles (please don’t tell my employer…lol). Well done and keep up the good work. I also discovered you are a lawyer also? I love you already! I am a lawyer and I own a blog http://www.barbysdiary.blogspot.com You should read my articles too. I’m sure you’ll love them.

    Reply
  2. Madeline Wilson-Ojo

    February 3, 2017 at 13:30

    Lovely read Kachee. I am actually a youth leader at church and love sharing biblical stories to empower them as young people. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      February 3, 2017 at 14:49

      Thanks Madeline. I really want todo that some day. I think the stories we hear as children really do stick with us!

      Reply
  3. Sisilicious “beautyluv” Sosan

    February 3, 2017 at 14:02

    Educative read ur articles are really interesting and inspirational.

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      February 3, 2017 at 14:48

      Thank you so much!

      Reply
  4. Demilade

    February 4, 2017 at 11:36

    Very interesting read. I mean, I know all these stories but it’s great to read about them again if you know what I mean? The life of David is so interesting and there’s a lot to be learned from it. The one thing I want to do is start investing my money and taking charge of my finances but I feel my bank won’t take me seriously as I’m so young lol. But reading this has given me a bit more courage and I will book my session! Thanks for sharing Kachee! xxcocobellablog.com

    Reply
  5. Ogonna_O

    February 5, 2017 at 13:01

    KachiLove Love Love!I was so excited when i received a notification for this post a couple of days ago because i knew it was going to be a GOOD ONE, after just reading the title.I really enjoyed reading this piece and thanks for the deep research you did to bring this to us.To pull out a character from David’s story, I would like to include Jonathan to your list. We all know he was David’s best friend and also the son of King Saul but he had to make a critical decision which was significant to David’s life. Jonathan might have been a bit older than David, but he was still a young man when he alerted David several times of Saul’s plans to kill him. And as the prince and next in line to the throne, picking David over Saul meant the he would not be King if David was to succeed. This must be a difficult thing for any young and ambitious man to do. But Jonathan did, because he knew David was anointed and chosen by God. To me, Jonathan was David’s guardian on earth because he allowed himself to be used by God in order for David to be great.What to you think?Thanks again for this. Really inspiring.Ogonna

    Reply
  6. Amakamedia

    February 5, 2017 at 18:31

    What an insightful post. I agree age is just a number. I love studying Bible characters too. . . There is so much to draw from. Thanks for sharing, Kachee.I’m studying Joshua at the moment. It’s been mind blowing.amakamedia.com

    Reply
  7. Endaline

    February 6, 2017 at 12:54

    Perfect Kachi! And to think I was procrastinating on reading this. LOL. Will definitely share this on my Facebook page.www.onyixtus.com

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      February 6, 2017 at 14:40

      Thanks for reading & so glad you liked it!xx

      Reply
  8. Live In Ibadan

    February 7, 2017 at 14:16

    Interesting read, kachee. But you forgot to mention Esther who triumphed from a nobody to somebody. Her background or roots didn’t matter. What mattered was that God was on her side and she became a Queenwww.liveinibadan.blogspot.com

    Reply
  9. Olufisayo Adeleke

    July 5, 2018 at 21:52

    Awww…such warm fuzzy feelings this brings…I had ‘How Anansi got his stories’ as a kid and totally loved it…I read it every night at a point…my brothers hid it from me cos apparently they were tired of reading it to me😂😂

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 15, 2018 at 07:02

      Hahahaha. To be honest, I don’t know if I’d enjoy reading the same books to my son every night.

      Reply
  10. Ajala & Foodie

    July 5, 2018 at 22:57

    I have book marked this page, my LO is only 2 months almost 3 and for the first time yesterday I was able to hold her attention for a little bit while we read. It was one of those ones that you touch and it makes sounds of the alphabet and numbers. We were able to make it through 3 plastic pages. I have taken note of this page for when she is a little older.

    Reply
    • Kachee || KacheeTee.com

      July 15, 2018 at 07:02

      I love those books that make sounds. Definitely a great way to grab their attention in the early months.

      Reply

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