Representations of a multicultural UK in picture books

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Photo Credit: David Robert Bliwas via Compfight

Trying to find books that represent a true cross-section of the UK isn’t always easy. Many of the books that depict children from different cultures are set in a different country so I’ve put together a few excellent examples of picture books set in the UK:

  • Abdi’s Day by Vera Wilkins was written in collaboration with the Harrow Ethnic Minority Achievement Service and is a lovely story of a Somali boy on a schooltrip with his friends to the seaside. Abdi’s Mum makes him traditional anjeero as well as sandwiches to take for his lunch and this is eventually shared with all the children. A variety of cultures are represented in the children and teachers but it doesn’t feel at all forced and the story stands up well on its own.
  • My Two Grannies by Floella Benjamin features a child who has one grandmother from Trinidad and the other from the north of England. The two grandmothers are very different and often disagree but the child manages to find things they can all do together which introduces them to each other’s culture and the women become close friends. A useful book for celebrating cultural differences and for starting discussions on the variety of families. Would work well with The Great Big Book of Families by Mary Hoffman
  • Cleversticks by Bernard Ashley features a boy called Ling Sung who doesn’t like school as he can’t seem to do the things his classmates can. His classmates however are amazed by him using the paintbrushes as chopsticks to pick up his biscuits. No-one else has this skill so he gets the very important job of showing the class how to do it. Maybe school isn’t so bad after all? Useful not just for exploring different cultures but also for getting children talking about the things they find difficult and the things they are good at.
  • Siddharth and Rinki by Addy Farmer is about a young boy who has just arrived in England from India. He is lonely at school and misses his home. When he loses his toy elephant, Rinki, his classmates join him in the search and friendships are forged along the way. A lovely story that looks at how it feels to be in a strange place and a useful book for exploring different viewpoints.
  • Wait and See, In a Minute, and Through My Window by Tony Bradman are a series of books featuring a young mixed race girl called Jo and the culturally diverse neighbourhood she lives in. The stories themselves are simple events such as going to the local shops or visiting the park but are wonderfully depicted through the  illustrations of the colourful characters and places Jo visits. There are lots of details in the images to discuss and the series is an excellent example of picture books that represent a realistic UK.

For more titles see the full list on our catalogue

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