Children’s books to celebrate Black History Month 2019
Black History Month is celebrated in the UK every October – aiming to promote and recognise Black contributions to British society and to encourage and foster understanding and knowledge of Black history in general.
“It’s important for children to recognise themselves in the books they read, considering it’s often their first real love.”
We’ve picked out four children’s and young adult books by four inspiring Black authors, each who have made incredible contributions to the children’s literary landscape in the UK and abroad.
Dave and the Tooth Fairy by Verna Wilkins, illustrated by Carl Pearce
Dave has a wobbly tooth. He wibbles and wobbles it, but it won’t come out. But then one day Dave lets out an enormous sneeze and the tooth flies across the room and vanishes. Dave searches high and low, but it’s nowhere to be seen. How will he get the tooth fairy to visit him now?
Dave and the Tooth Fairy is Verna Wilkins classic picture book, re-imagined in 2019 with new contemporary illustrations by Carl Pearce. Verna is the founder of Tamarind Books, a publishing company she set up in 1987 to help children of all cultures and ethnicities have the chance to see themselves in stories and books. Verna went on to become the author of forty picture books and eight biographies for young people. Her books have featured on BBC Children’s TV programmes and have been included on the National Curriculum for Schools. She has received many awards, among them the British Book Industry Decibel Award for Multicultural Publishing in 2008, and she has been honoured by Newman University Birmingham as a Doctor of Letters for her work as a “champion of Children’s Literature.”
Dave and the Tooth Fairy
Pub. date: August 2019
Cyborg Cat and the Night Spider by Ade Adepitan, illustrated by Carl Pearce
Ade loves playing football and he’s amazing in goal, despite the heavy metal caliper he has to wear on his leg. He can save any ball that’s sent his way, from any direction, so his friends have nicknamed him the Cyborg Cat. But when the Parsons Road Gang stumble upon some unusual graffiti it starts to have a really weird effect on Ade. Somehow, the art is drawing him into another dimension, where he really is Cyborg Cat! But that’s not all – after seeing the Night Spider’s art, Ade starts to feel weak and everything begins to go wrong …
Cyborg Cat and the Night Spider is the second book in Paralympian wheelchair basketball star Ade Adepitan’s heartwarming, entertaining and accessible Cyborg Cat series. As well as being a successful and inspirational sportsman, Ade is a widely recognised broadcaster and TV presenter. Ade is a passionate support of diversity in publishing and is a fierce advocate of children’s charities. All profits for the publication of Cyborg Cat and the Night Spider go to BBC Children in Need.
Cyborg Cat and the Night Spider
Pub. date: October 2019
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Ever since she got pregnant, seventeen-year-old Emoni’s life has been about making the tough decisions – doing what has to be done for her young daughter and her grandmother. Keeping her head down at school, trying not to get caught up with new boy Malachi. The one place she can let everything go is in the kitchen, where she has magical hands – whipping up extraordinary food beloved by everyone.
With the Fire on High is a coming-of-age story with resilience and perseverance at its core. It is a love letter to soul food and a tribute to young single mothers. Elizabeth Acevedo won the 2019 Carnegie Medal, the 2018 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, The Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Fiction, the Boston Globe-Hornbook Award Prize for Best Children’s Fiction and the Pura Belpré Award for a work that best affirms the Latinx cultural experience. Acevedo is also a National Poetry Slam Champion, with her lyricism evident in the versatility, depth and breadth of her writing.
With the Fire on High
Pub. date: September 2019
The Mega Magic Hair Swap by Rochelle Humes, illustrated by Rachel Suzanne
Mai and Rose are best friends but they’re not two peas in a pod. Mai has dark hair that is curly and whirly and never stays put. Why couldn’t she have perfect hair just like her best friend Rose? Rose has blonde hair, as straight as a ruler, which slips and slides whenever she tries to put it in a ponytail. Why couldn’t she have perfect hair just like her best friend Mai?
Rochelle Humes is a celebrated British singer and TV presenter. Her Instagram account has over one million followers. It was Rochelle’s young daughter who led her to better investigate and challenge the lack of diversity in children’s books.
“My little girl would come home from school saying she wasn’t happy with her hair, or that her skin was a different colour to her best friend.”
Rochelle searched for children’s books that featured colourful and inclusive characters to encourage her daughters to see their own unique beauty. Coming up empty, Rochelle decided to write one herself. The Mega Magic Hair Swap is a children’s book to celebrate difference and authenticity — and about loving your hair no matter if it’s curly or straight.
The Mega Magic Hair Swap
Pub. date: February 2019