Why Representation Matters in Children's Books


A guest blog by Jasmine Richards, Creator of Aziza's Secret Fairy Door on why representation matters and her list of essential children's books to celebrate diversity. You can read more about Jasmine over on her website www.jasminerichards.com.


Why Representation Matters in Children's Books
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Representation matters.  It has always mattered but in the last year or so, the conversation around the quality and quantity of representation has become more urgent. This has certainly been the case when it has come to discussions around children's books. 

If young readers from under-represented backgrounds continue not to see themselves in books then they will choose other media that reflects them better.  These same children are less likely to grow up to be authors and the cycle of under-representation continues.

​Representation or the lack of it affects all of us. Children exposed to different cultures, viewpoints and backgrounds grow up to understand the world better and change the world for the better. 

Children are perceptive and curious, let’s give them literature that accurately reflects the world we live in, as well as every beautifully unique individual within it. Books are key to building empathy. They shape and guide readers from childhood to adulthood. 

In the buzz around the publication of my book, Aziza’s Secret Fairy Door on 10th June, I wanted to share some books that I believe every school library should have because they do a great job of putting kids of colour at the centre of stories full of joy and adventure. Or they offer us an education in the hidden and reflect our society in an equal and equitable way.

Ages 5+

In the 5+  age range, Patrice Lawrence’s Granny Ting Ting is a wonderfully funny story, perfect for those readers that are used to picture book reading and are searching for something more. Dave Pigeon, published by Faber & Faber. Her Dave Pigeon series has been shortlisted for various prizes and is featured in Tom Fletcher’s WH Smith Book Club 2 and the Reading Realm app. I’m keen to mention another one of her books, Ballet Bunnies, The Guardian Children’s Book of the Month for October 2020. This is a series of magical tales on learning ballet, with a little extra help!

Why Representation Matters in Children's Books

Ages 7+

In the 7-9 category, Blackberry Blue by Jamila Gavin is a stunning collection of stories complete with evil curses, princesses and shapeshifting animals. These brand-new narratives are perfect for any fairy tale lover - what more could you want?

Some more must-needs for school libraries are Vashti Harrison’s Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History and Exceptional Men in Black History. These books will not fail to inspire and educate those that read them. With gorgeous illustrations, she tells the stories of many lesser-known figures of Black history, such as Diane Abbott and Sir David Adjaye.

If you like tales of family traditions and emotional warmth, Chitra Soundar’s Sona Sharma, Very Best Big Sister is another tale that shouldn’t go unnoticed, exploring the theme of sibling love.

Why Representation Matters in Children's Books

Ages 9+ 

Radiya Hafiza’s Rumaysa is my first pick in the 9+ range, ideal for readers of fantasy. A brilliant fusion of culture and fairy tale, this book has an empowering female narrator that will capture you from the start! Meanwhile Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths, written by Maisie Chan, explores finding your own voice through an eleven-year-old protagonist. This touching story stays with you long after you close the book.

If you are looking for a witty and frankly anarchic start to a series, Llama Out Loud! by Annabelle Sami tells the story of a mute ten-year-old girl and her toy llama called Levi. He is not everything he seems. If you want to witness flawless comedic timing, then this is the book for you.

A historical tale from Scholastic, Son of the Circus: A Victorian Story by E.L. Norry takes you all the way back to 1867, based on real people and events from that era. Any child  and not just a history enthusiast will like this book, as it tells the story of overcoming misfortune and discovering self-belief. Last but by no means least, Black and British: A Short, Essential History by award-winning historian David Olusoga, was the British Book of the Year in 2021 and is perfectly written for readers aged 12+ to discover Black British figures throughout history.

Why Representation Matters in Children's Books
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Aziza's Secret Fairy Door

Aziza's Secret Fairy Door is the first title in an inclusive magical adventure series, perfect for readers of 6-8 from debut author Lola Morayo. It is inspired by world mythology and is gorgeously illustrated in black and white throughout by Cory Reid.

Open the door to a world of magic and adventure . . .

A mysterious gift arrives on Aziza's birthday. It is a secret fairy door that will whisk her away to Shimmerton, a magical world with princesses, naughty fairies, shapeshifters, unicorn shopkeepers and mischief around every corner. But when the precious jewelled doorknob is taken, Aziza is trapped. Will she ever see her home and family again? Maybe her new friends, Peri and Tiko, can help . . .

Packed with mischief, friendship and magic, Aziza is perfect for fans of Isadora Moon .

Look out for the second title in the series Aziza's Secret Fairy Door and the Ice Cat Mystery coming soon.


First published


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