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Inclusive Books for Children (IBC) Awards

We’re so excited to see the launch of these brand new awards by the charity Inclusive Books for Children. Recognising the best new inclusive books, these awards fit into Inclusive Books for Children’s wider aim to make mainstream books inclusive, and to bring inclusive books into the mainstream. We’re thrilled to see some of our favourite titles, authors and characters among the 13 shortlisted books.

Three books are shortlisted in the Baby and Toddler Books category: Too Green!, Zeki Goes to the Park and Zeki Hikes with Daddy. Zeki is a popular character among younger readers and we’re delighted to see him return.

The Picture Books for ages 3–7 category shortlist includes Dadaji’s Paintbrush and Faruq and the Wiri Wiri, which both feature on our Recommended Reads lists. The other titles shortlisted in this category are The Missing Piece, To the Other Side and You’re So Amazing!.

A host of our favourite characters feature in the Children’s Fiction for ages 5-9 category shortlist, and we’re excited by the return of Lizzie and Lucky in The Mystery of the Lost Chicken, Sona Sharma in Wish Me Luck, and Too Small Tola in Too Small Tola Makes It Count. Budgie and Meet the Maliks, Twin Detectives: The Cookie Culprit make up the rest of this category shortlist.

The judging panel boasts educators, authors, broadcasters, illustrators and advocates, and the awards ceremony will take place in London on the 28th of February.

Baby and Toddler Book

Sumana Seeboruth
 & Maribel Castells
Joining the Feelings & First series: a young child helps his Mum and Mama cook a green vegetable soup, but then emphatically refuses to eat it. After carefully watching his parents enjoying the meal, the child finally agrees to taste it and discovers that he likes it after all! Full of humor and sound effects, this adorable and relatable tale offers a positive model for handling food reluctance. Also available in bilingual Spanish.
Anna McQuinn
 & Ruth Hearson
Zeki and Mummy are off to the park to cool down. They meet up with Zeki's friend Yu and her mummy. Zeki and Yu play, dig in the sandbox, play on the splash pad and have a picnic. A perfect summer celebration, an energetic companion to Zeki Hikes with Daddy.
Anna McQuinn
 & Ruth Hearson
Zeki and Daddy are off on a hike! They explore the trail, from tall trees to tiny leaves and everything in between. Zeki gets up close to nature – he finds smooth stones, delicate feathers and slow snails! An exciting day of discoveries and an energetic companion to Zeki Goes to the Park.

Picture Books for ages 3–7

Rashmi Sirdeshpande
 & Ruchi Mhasane

Dadaji’s Paintbrush is a sumptuous story of a young boy’s special relationship with his grandfather, set in a small village in India.

This is a beautiful story that deals with the difficult subject of the loss of a grandparent in a gentle and understanding way.  The beautiful Indian setting that will be unfamiliar to many readers highlights the universal experiences of love and loss, showing that no matter where you are, some human experiences unite us all.

The illustrations are simple and beautiful and we particularly liked how the colours linked with the main character’s emotions. We also loved the evocative and sensory setting descriptions in the story – we could almost taste the mangoes!

As well as gently exploring the topic of grief, the story is ultimately filled with hope and draws out the values of art, community and legacy. There’s so much to unpack in this stunning story.

Sophia Payne
 & Sandhya Prabhat

There’s so much to like about this colourful picturebook: the lively illustrations, including endpapers; the different fonts which are almost as expressive as the text and conjure up beautifully the scents and sounds of Caribbean culture, the warmth conveyed by artful storytelling, warmth which derives from Faruq’s relationship with the characters who shape his culinary (and boyhood) journey; not to mention the addition of a recipe for lime cookies.

This is a story to make your mouth and your eyes water – as if witness to the work of cooking up a sumptuous family feast and then finding yourself invited too. It’s a book that lends itself to being read aloud in class or at home (and even more so if the dialect sounds authentic). It would also work well in a nurture group setting, allowing the children a hand at making some of the food and as a celebration of different cultures.

Jordan Stephens
 & Beth Suzanna
A heart-warming, fresh and original story about family and friendship from brand-new picture book author, writer and performer Jordan Stephens.Sunny loves jigsaw puzzles – the bigger the better. When she completes one, she gets a warm, happy honeybee buzz. One day, her Gran gives her a ONE-THOUSAND-PIECE puzzle. Piece after piece, all by herself, she puts together the picture, until … DISASTER! The final piece is missing. Sunny may be small, but she is very determined – so she sets off to find it.As the day whizzes by in a whirl of new places and friends, Sunny discovers that looking for something is every bit as fun as finding it, and that perhaps the missing piece was there all along …
Erika Meza

There are currently around 13 million child refugees in the world – each own with their own story.

With masks on their faces, a family leaves their home. This picturebook story is cleverly told through the vehicle of an older sibling creating a game for her younger brother as they travel – avoid the monsters and don’t get caught. In this long game of ‘tag’ they must be fast and brave; travelling on buses, hitching lifts and often walking alone.

The story is so poignant. It shows the hardships faced on the long journey; the tiredness, the danger, the longing for home and for safety. Drawn in grey tones, the pink and yellow masks highlight the anonymous figures and hidden voices of those seeking sanctuary over an invisible line. Although this story focuses on children crossing the border into the USA, this beautiful book opens up discussions about why families might leave their homes and what life might be like for them as they seek a safer place to settle. The book provides a starting point for discussing themes of displacement and migration with primary school children. The sibling relationship is beautiful and there is essential factual information and additional personal stories within the back matter.

James Catchpole,Lucy Catchpole
 & Karen George

Joe is widely admired for his presence, whether he’s playing on the playground or enjoying a treat – after all, he’s SO AMAZING! Despite his admiration for his athletic friend Simone, Joe constantly receives compliments from onlookers. Wanting to shift the focus to Simone, Joe attempts to blend into the background, only to be mistaken for feeling sorry for himself.

Reluctantly, Joe participates in activities, feeling the pressure to maintain his “Amazing Joe” persona, a struggle that resonates with disabled individuals. As playground visitors gawk and point at his physical disability, Joe becomes exhausted with the attention. Seeking solace, he engages in soccer with a friend and discovers the joy of accomplishment through perseverance.

In this picturebook, the authors skilfully portray strangers’ well-intentioned yet patronizing behaviour through vivid illustrations. The narrative paints a picture of the importance of supportive friendships rather than offering direct strategies for handling uncomfortable interactions. Illustrated with diversity in the character portrayal, the story offers a glimpse into the disability experience.

Children’s Fiction for ages 5–9

Joseph Coelho
 & David Barrow
Chapter book
A lost little budgie brings together a young neighbour and his seemingly grumpy older neighbour in this touching Little Gem from award-winner and Children’s Laureate Joseph Coelho.Mr Buxton is always having a go at Miles and his friends for climbing the trees outside their tower block. Miles thinks he’s just a grumpy old man but when he finds a lost little budgie, Miles also discovers that he and Mr Buxton have more in common than he could ever have imagined.
Megan Rix
 & Tim Budgen
Chapter book
Join young detective Lizzie and her adorable puppy Lucky on another mystery-solving adventure! With charming illustrations throughout, and fun activities to try.Lizzie and Lucky are visiting the Five Freedoms Sanctuary. It's a lovely place for all sorts of rescued animals.When a local farmer announces some terrible plans for his land that could endanger the surrounding wildlife, our dynamic duo know they must investigate the case. Can they use their detective skills to stop him?While looking for clues, Lizzie spots some strange footprints and an unusual blue creature that stands out from the rest! But what is it, and where did it come from? Could it be the key to saving the day?
Zanib Mian
 & Kyan Cheng
Chapter book
Meet Maysa and Musa Malik. They might be twins but they are total opposites. And together they make an unstoppable team, especially when trying to solve a mystery! Infectiously funny, and full of her trademark warmth, Meet the Maliks - Twin Detectives is the brand-new series from Zanib Mian. Perfect for fans of Planet Omar and Tom Gates.Maysa Malik just can't seem to be good like her twin, Musa. So, when she isn't allowed to go on a school trip, Maysa tries to change her parents' minds by taking part in a cookie competition at the mosque.But when the cookies are all destroyed, it's up to Maysa, Musa and their neighbour, Norman, to solve the mystery. They'll have to put their detective hats on to catch the culprit - and help save Maysa's reputation.
Chitra Soundhar
 & Jen Khatun
Chapter book
Sona Sharma lives in India with her busy family, where she learns about the ups and downs of family, friendship and life.Sona and her friends are excited to learn their beloved teacher, Miss Rao, is getting married – but then they panic that she might leave their school for ever after her wedding! They try all kinds of tactics, like wishing on a peacock feather and even starting a petition to keep Miss Rao. But Miss Rao's beautiful Indian wedding has a surprise in store for the girls.
 & Onyinye Iwu
Chapter book
Lockdown is over and Too Small Tola has returned to the crowded family flat in Lagos, Nigeria. Even though she is back home and safe, there are still plenty of problems for Tola to solve - including her own. She may be small, but she is also thoughtful and kind and clever – and there really is no problem too big for Too Small Tola.

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