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Diverse & Inclusive Books for Lower KS2

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Best Diverse Books for Years 3 and 4

We have selected a list of recommended diverse and inclusive books for children in Year 3 and Year 4 (ages 7-9), which feature characters that are traditionally under-represented in children’s books.

This list of the best diverse books for children in Lower Key Stage 2 includes books with minority ethnic main characters and books with representations of cultural diversity, different types of families, physical disabilities, visual impairment and neurodiversity. 

The selection includes the entertaining story of young Yusuf’s schemes at a British-Bengali family wedding in Mayhem Mission and the tale of one child’s experience of the joy of Eid-ul-Fitr in Ramadan Moon, as well as deaf character Max’s compelling quest for friendship in Max and the Millions and the fast-paced story of limb loss and sport in Paralympian Ellie Robinson’s Thief on the Track.

You can find Diverse & Inclusive children’s book lists for other primary year groups here:

 

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Books with minority ethnic main characters

Zanib Mian & Nasaya Mafaridik
Chapter book
Welcome, readers, to the imaginative brain of Omar! You might not know me yet, but once you open the pages of this book you'll laugh so hard that snot will come out of your nose (plus you might meet a dragon and a zombie - what more could you want?).My parents decided it would be a good idea to move house AND move me to a new school at the same time. As if I didn't have a hard enough time staying out of trouble at home, now I've also got to try and make new friends. What's worse, the class bully seems to think I'm the perfect target.At least Eid's around the corner which means a feast (YAY) and presents (DOUBLE YAY). Well, as long as I can stay in Mum and Dad's good books long enough...
Serena Holly
 & Selom Sunu
Chapter book
Join Jada and Granny Jinks in this charming new series for readers aged 6+! Gorgeously illustrated throughout by Selom Sunu, and brimming with warmth, tricks and magic, this is the perfect read for fans of The Naughtiest Unicorn , Bad Nana and Wigglesbottom Primary! When Jada Jinks finds a box of magic tricks in her granny's flat, she uncovers her granny's SECRET dream of becoming a magician . Jada soon decides that she's going to help Granny Jinks fulfil her dreams, but one thing stands in her way - her dad, Jonny Jinks, who hates magic! Will Jada be able to help Granny Jinks pass the auditions for Dalton Green Magic Society , and will she learn some tricks of her own along the way? Inspired by the true story of Jenny Mayers - the first Black woman to be accepted into the Magic Circle. *Includes how-to magic tricks for you to try at home!* With themes of finding courage, making friends, managing relationships at home, school and in the community, this is a wonderful new series for readers aged 6 and up!
Anh Do
Chapter book
Laugh-out-loud and fully illustrated Ninja Kid is the start of a brand new series from bestselling comedian Anh Do!Nelson is a nerd! Unfit, uncool...totally awkward! But when he wakes up on his tenth birthday, he discovers he is a NINJA! THE LAST NINJA ON EARTH! How is he going to save the world when he cannot even get his undies on the right way?! With the help of Grandmas inventions and his wild cousin Kenny, can Nelson master his new ninja skills AND save Duck Creek?
John Agard
 & Michael Broad
Chapter book
Shona has always loved words. She even has her very own strange word thesaurus! When her and her classmates learn that some languages are dying out, Miss Bates tasks them with becoming top-class word detectives, proving to themselves and their families that there are many beautiful languages still thriving, even within their own classroom. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 7+.
Malorie Blackman
 & Matt Robertson
Chapter book

Malorie Blackman’s excellent story entertains with humour, perfectly matched with Matt Robinson’s illustrations which superbly bring Ellie and her animal chums to life. There are themes of friendship, resilience, self-belief, problem solving. The inter-generational relationship between Ellie and her Grandma develops into something quite heart-warming too. Published by Barrington Stoke, on cream paper in a dyslexia friendly font, this is pitched to appeal to KS2 children with a younger reading age. The short engaging chapters and overall compact length (75 pages) make this a brilliant accessible read…


Pooja Puri
 & Allen Fatimaharan
Chapter book
A Robot Squashed My Teacher is the laugh-out-loud, wacky adventure by Pooja Puri brilliantly illustrated by Allen Fatimaharan , the sequel to the Marcus Rashford Bookclub Selected book A Dinosaur Ate My Sister .Esha Verma, her snotty apprentice Broccoli and his secretly cunning pet tortoise have a dream. They are going to win the legendary Brain Trophy - the ultimate inventing prize. This year's entry: The RoarEasy - a gadget that lets the user speak to animals.But when Esha's arch-nemesis, fellow inventor Ernie, lands her in detention, the RoarEasy malfunctions and suddenly Monsieur Crepeau is transformed into a pigeon.Luckily for Esha, she knows exactly what she needs to repair her invention and where to find it: locked away in the mysterious Central Research Laboratories.She, Broccoli, Archibald and Monsieur Crepeau will have to go undercover and break into the labs before the competition to return Monsieur Crepeau to his human form. And with Ernie following them, determined to foil their plans as they face giant robots, killer plants, shrinking machines, robo-spiders, clouds that make you float and terrifying twisters, they're going to need all the help they can get to get out of this wacky pickle.
Konnie Huq
Chapter book
Cookie's life is basically over. Her best friend in the whole world is moving to Solihull because one of her dads has a new job there. Solihull?! Where even is that?! Cookie begs her parents for a pet to fill the void but they have given her an absolute NO. It would be way too expensive and way way too messy.But Cookie has never been a fan of the word 'no' so she visits the pet shop anyway and sets her heart on the sweetest cutest kitteniest kitten ever: Bluey. But then  - disaster! The most ANNOYING boy she's ever met in her entire nine years goes into the pet shop, buys Bluey and renames her Nigel. And then he joins her year at school. And if that wasn't bad enough, he moves in next door to her.But it's not all bad. Cookie gets the chance to go on her favourite TV show, Brainbusters. It's only a chance though - she'll have to win the school science competition first. It shouldn't be too hard - all she has to do is keep her head down, and not get too over-excited. Unfortunately, that's not Cookie's strong point . . .
Mark Powers
 & Dapo Adeola
Chapter book
Dog lost in space? Grown an extra head and don't know why? Pocket money stolen by a green blob? You need the Space Detectives! Connor and Ethan are spending their summer holidays aboard the world's first orbiting city, Starville (basically Beverley Hills in space!). The amazing space station is bursting with celebrities and the mega-rich. But Connor and Ethan are too busy selling ice cream to see the sights. However, neither of our heroes can resist a mystery and when they discover the space station is hurtling on a collision course with the moon (eep!) they know they need to step in. This is a case for the SPACE DETECTIVES! Can Connor and Ethan find the culprit and save Starville from its impending doom?
Serena Patel
 & Emma McCann
Chapter book

Nominated for “Favourite Books of 2020” by: Dan Norton (Y3/4 teacher)

Dan says, “School’s Cancelled is a wonderful second book in the Anisha Accidental Detective series. It’s a race against time for Anisha to prove that it was not her who caused the foam explosion that flooded the school. The mystery is engaging until the very end and there are twists and turns throughout. The world that has been created is inclusive and vibrant and any event that involves Anisha’s family is sure to be fun!”

Sue Cheung
A madcap new story from Sue Cheung, winner of the Diverse Book Award, filled with belly-laughs and packed with drawings! Perfect for fans of Tom Gates and Sam Wu.Maddy Yip is perfectly happy in life, until she realises that everyone she knows has a talent - except for her! Maddy is determined to change that, with the help of her brothers, bewildered grandad and her best friend Dev. There are disastrous attempts at breakdancing and playing the recorder, revolting cakes, and a magic disappearing trick that ends up with an escaped guinea pig. Will Maddy ever find her true calling?

Books that represent cultural diversity

Richard O'Neill
 & Kirsti Beautyman
Picturebook
In this new addition to our 'Travellers' Tales' series, Sonny devotes his weekend to helping his neighbours and fellow Travellers with a variety of tasks. He uses many skills, from calculating the amount of fuel needed for a journey, to restoring a caravan. In fact, the only thing he doesn't do over the weekend is his homework - his workbook is missing! What will his teacher say? This new picture book by Richard O'Neill champions the idea that many skills learned at home are as important as those learned at school.
Radiya Hafiza
 & Rhaida El Touny
Chapter book
Step into a Once Upon a Time where anything is possible . . . Radiya Hafiza's enchanting and funny debut weaves together three stories, spinning the classic fairytale to show that anyone can be a hero.'Rumaysa, Rumaysa, let down your hijab!'For as long as she can remember Rumaysa has been locked away in her tower, forced to spin straw into gold for the evil Witch, unable to leave. Until one day, after dropping a hijab out of her small tower-window, Rumaysa realizes how she might be able to escape . . .Join Rumaysa as she adventures through enchanted forests and into dragon's lairs, discovers her own incredible magical powers and teams up with Cinderayla and Sleeping Sara!Rumaysa: A Fairytale is a magically fresh, empowering and funny debut, which retells three classic fairytales - Rapunzel, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty - with beautiful inside illustrations by Rhaida El Touny and cover illustration by Areeba Siddique.
Burhana Islam
 & Farah Kahndaker
Chapter book

Yusuf lives with his older sister, his mum and his grandma. When his older sister starts to prepare for her wedding, Yusuf realises that he must become ‘the man of the house’. However, when he looks into the responsibilities that this entails, he knows that he is not yet ready for the role. So he sets about trying to prevent his sister from getting married so that she will stay at home and continue to take on responsibilities.

The series title for this book is ‘My Laugh-Out-Loud Life’ and, as soon as you start reading the book, it is clear why. Yusuf and his cousin Aadam get into all sorts of bother as they try to sabotage everything to do with the wedding, from meal preparation to the wedding outfit. The harder they try to cause problems, the more trouble they get into. And as they go about causing mayhem, they have to contend with the formidable Amma (Yusuf’s mum) and Nanu (Yusuf’s grandma).

This is ultimately a book about family and the bonds that hold them together. Through the story, the reader learns a lot about daily life, cultures and traditions in a British-Bengali family. Yusuf always has a side note to explain Bengali words and phrases that are used throughout the story.

The illustrations by Farah Khandaker really help to bring the story to life and to capture some of the mayhem that Yusuf causes. This is a great book to have in classrooms or a school library. The style would appeal to readers who feel daunted by pages of text, as the side notes and illustrations help to break up the words on the bag and make it feel less daunting. It is also ideal for bringing more diversity into class bookshelves, whether for children to see themselves represented in books or for them to learn more about other cultures.

Kevin Tsang & Katie Tsang
 & Nathan Reed
Chapter book
The brilliantly funny and first book in the SAM WU series, starring the bravest scaredy-cat in the world. Sam Wu is NOT a scaredy-cat (except he is). When a trip to the Space Museum goes terrifyingly wrong, Sam begins a mission to prove to the school bully, and all of his friends, that he is a fearless space adventurer.A truly laugh-out-loud, voice-led and madcap story of ghost hunting, snakes and mischievous pet cats called Butterbutt.
Atinuke
 & Warwick Johnson Cadwell
Chapter book
Oluwalase Babatunde Benson is No. 1. He's the No. 1 car spotter in his village. The No. 1 car spotter in the world! The start of an exciting new series about the irresistible No. 1, whose hobby is car spotting but who is good at solving all sorts of problems for his village. When the family's cart breaks down and there's no way of bringing goods to market, it's No. 1 who devises the Toyota Cow-rolla and saves the day. He runs errands for his family and helps Mama Coca-Cola feed the busloads of people who stop for her delicious fried akara. No. 1 even helps Grandmother get to the medical centre when she can't afford treatment. No. 1 is bright and plucky and resourceful - a fantastic new character in what will undoubtedly prove to be a brilliant series!

Chitra Soundar
 & Soofiya
Chapter book
In these four interlinked stories about Nikhil and Jay and their family, there's always fun and mischief. Jay wants to do things by himself on his birthday, but sharing with Nikhil turns out to be more fun. They all go to visit Grandad and Nana, but where is the story dragon? Then it's Pancake Day, the day when Amma makes yummy dosa , Indian pancakes. And last but not least, Nikhil and Jay help to lead a campaign to save their local library from closing. The Nikhil and Jay stories are perfect for children moving on from picture books to longer stories, helped by Soofiya's lively and characterful illustrations.
Na'ima B. Robert
 & Shirin Adl
Picturebook

This picturebook offers an explanation of the way in which many Muslims see the period of Ramadan from the first sighting of the new moon through the full moon and back, as well as giving insight into the ‘month of mercy.’ This book would be a great addition to any school or library as it would help support adults who are less familiar with the experience of Ramadan to explain it to children. The explanation of Ramadan is explained beautifully and sensitively in this book and the accompanying illustrations enhance the text perfectly, presented with a beautiful texturing effect that adds a ‘real-world’ feel to them.

Claire Grace
 & Christopher Corr
Non-fiction
With fact-filled text accompanied by beautifully bright illustrations from the wonderfully talented Chris Corr, prepare yourself for a journey as we travel around the world celebrating and uncovering a visual feast of culture. Countless different festivals are celebrated all over the world throughout the year. Some are national holidays, celebrated for religious and cultural reasons, or to mark an important date in history , while others are just for fun . Give thanks and tuck into a delicious meal with friends and family at Thanksgiving, get caught up in a messy tomato fight in Spain at La Tomatina, add a splash of colour to your day at the Holi festival of colours and celebrate the life and achievements of Martin Luther King Jr. on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Kim Hyo-eun
Picturebook
A cinematic journey through the Seoul subway that masterfully portrays the many unique lives we travel alongside whenever we take the train. A poetic translation of the bestselling Korean picture book.Accompanied by the constant, rumbling ba-dum ba-dum of its passage through the city, the subway has stories to tell. Between sunrise and sunset, it welcomes and farewells people, and holds them — along with their joys, hopes, fears, and memories — in its embrace.Originally published in Korean and brought to English-speaking audiences with the help of renowned translator Deborah Smith (The Vegetarian), I Am the Subway vividly reflects the shared humanity that can be found in crowded metropolitan cities.Translated by Deborah Smith.
Nizrana Farook
Chapter book

An exciting middle-grade adventure from Nizrana Farook filled with atmosphere, suspense and adventure with elements of Robin Hood and Arabian Nights.
Set in the dazzling landscapes of Sri Lanka, The Girl Who Stole an Elephant is the story of a girl called Chaya and her friends Neel and Nour. Quick-fingered Chaya is a young version of Robin Hood; she steals from the rich to help the poor in her village. However, when she steals the Queen’s jewels, things begin to go horribly wrong. Not only does she put herself in grave danger, but her actions also bring harm to her best friend Neel and the people of her village…


Books that represent different types of families

Chitra Soundar
 & Jen Khatun
Chapter book
Sona Sharma combats climate change. When Sona learns about the climate crisis at school and is very worried that no one is doing enough to combat it, she takes up the challenge herself. But Appa isn't amused when Sona throws out her baby sister's nappies and Thatha isn't happy when she tells him to get rid of his colour-coded plastic files. When Sona learns that many of the kolams - the traditional art that people draw in front of their homes to celebrate the winter months and the festival season - are not organic, she sets out to make some big changes by getting everyone involved.
Serena Patel
 & Louise Forshaw
Chapter book

Sonal has chosen ‘family’ as the topic for her school photography project. She thought it would be easy but she’s already regretting it. She can’t get everyone to focus so that she can take a group photo and even the individual snaps feature different members of her family looking at screens of various kinds. Sitting with her grandfather and sadly comparing her photos and family albums from the past shows just how much the digital world has taken over their lives. Egged on by her wise and long-suffering grandpa (who we suspect has thought for a while that a digital detox was in order), Sonal devises a plan for a family camping weekend without any devices at all.

 

From there, the warmly engaging story follows the innocently well-meaning but accident-prone heroine, whose exploits provide amusement while inviting empathy. Serena Patel captures the rhythms and cadences of modern family life brilliantly, wryly presenting an antidote to the perfect families often seen on social media. I thoroughly enjoyed the realistic perspective on parental and sibling relationships where squabbles and disagreements are normal.

Like the rest of the Barrington Stoke series, it is accessible but well-written and unpatronising, with black and white illustrations that work well with the lighthearted tone of the writing. It would make a great start to discussions of the mismatch between reality and social media profiles within the context of families. The more we expose this in schools the better, and this book does so in a gently unthreatening way.

Recommended as a read for pleasure for children in Year 4 and upwards who are developing reading stamina.

 

Lee Newbery
 & Laura Catalán
Chapter book

This is the book equivalent of sitting wrapped in a duvet eating chocolate. It is simply delightful and while being an exciting adventure it also looks at finding your feet and the inner courage you need to get through. Author Lee Newbery wrote this story for his son, so that his son could see himself in a story. Newbery wanted a story where the child is adopted (and has two dads) but without the family set-up being the main focus of the story. His aim has been entirely achieved.

Yes, there is peril, a hideous monster and bullies, but it always feels as if it will work out in the end. All the pieces of an exciting adventure are here; two loyal friends, a sprinkling of magic, a very cute animal, a tense denouement. All of this is wrapped up with wonderful illustrations from Laura Catalan, which bring the story to life, topped off with a beautiful cover.

I can see this book becoming a ‘must read’ for lower Key Stage 2, and I for one would love to read it aloud to a group of children.

Jen Carney
Chapter book
Meet Billie Upton Green and her VERY accidental diary - and don't you DARE call her B.U.G!Billie has taken the new girl at school under her wing. She'll teach her the important stuff - Biscuit Laws, Mrs Patterson and of course where to sneakily eat a Jaffa Cake. She might even get invited to the EVENT OF THE YEAR (Billie's mums are getting married).But then suspicion sets in. The new girl seems VERY close to Billie's best friend Layla.And she knows a LOT about the big school heist - the theft of Mrs Robinson's purse. But, Billie is on to her. Well, as long as Patrick doesn't catch her eating biscuits first.
Sally Nicholls
 & Hannah Coulson
Chapter book
Sam is sick, and Ella is sick of Sam. Life seems to revolve around his hospital appointments, his medication and his need for peace and quiet. No one thinks about what Ella wants or needs, no one cares. They don’t even know what day she was born on. In the end, Ella decides she doesn’t care if Sam gets sicker, but when it happens, she finds she cares an awful lot....A touching exploration of family love and the challenges of being a younger sibling, from multi-award-winning author Sally Nicholls.

Books that represent physical disabilities

Ade Adepitan
 & Carl Pearce
Chapter book
When Ade moves to London from Nigeria, he knows things will be different, but nothing can prepare him for the ups and downs of his Parson's Road adventures. Ade doesn't always feel welcome in his new community; fitting in is hard, especially as he looks different to everyone else. But Ade is brave and takes on the school bullies, surprising himself and the kids on his new street. His heroic acts and super football skills quickly help him make new friends who will always be there for him.
Tom Fletcher
 & Shane Devries
Chapter book

The Christmasaurus is the story of William Trundle – a dinosaur enthusiast, and his father – a Christmas enthusiast. When a series of events forces William to grapple with a season of loneliness, he sends a clever letter to Santa, initiating a magical Christmas journey.

Fans of The Creakers will be drawn to this book and will recognise the combination of good-natured humour and a focus on the determination and bravery of child characters who see their adventure though with a strong sense of self.  This book has earned its place as a staple among classroom Christmas tales. Tom Fletcher skillfully captures the magic of Christmas time with all of its hope and surprises, while Shane Devries’s illustrations add depth to the narrative. The overall charm and whimsical nature of the story along with an endearing cast of characters make it a delightful festive read, especially for Lower Ks2.

Maria Farrer
 & Daniel Rieley
Chapter book
There are times when only a polar bear will do . . . So Mum and Dad have decided we're moving house, but not just down the road, not even in the same town . . . not even in the same COUNTRY! Not only that, but now they expect me to try and fit in and make new friends. Don't they understand that I just want my old friends who love and accept me the way I am - bad jokes and all. It would seem that the only friend I CAN make is this enormous POLAR BEAR who has come to stay. I didn't ask for him, but I ended up with him at the airport instead of my missing suitcase . . . Meet Joe as he tries to adapt to his new life. And meet Mister P, the world's most helpful(ish) polar bear. Packed with gorgeous illustrations throughout, readers will love this fun and heartwarming story.
Ellie Robinson
 & James Lancett
Chapter book
Join three sporting detectives as they race around the world in the brand new mystery adventure series from multi gold medal-winning Paralympian, Ellie Robinson.Hannah, Maria, and Seb are at the World Championships in Tokyo, bonding over their excitement at watching their favourite athletes compete. But Jesse Marks, a star runner on the US relay team has had his gold medal stolen! The sport park is alive with gossip and as the three new friends begin to investigate, several suspects begin to emerge. With time running out before the final race is run, can the detectives uncover who is out to sabotage the team?The race to solve the case is on in this twisting, action-packed look-behind-the-scenes at the world's biggest sporting event, with clues and illustrations throughout from James Lancett.
Frank Cottrell Boyce
 & Steven Lenton
Chapter book

A funny, inventive tale told in first person by Alfie Miles, a Year 7 boy who discovers a one-legged robot in an airport’s lost property. Alfie’s right hand was amputated in an accident and he has been given a state-of-the-art prosthetic hand, but he is struggling to accept the new limb and he has the feeling he’s forgotten something really important. A fast-paced adventure, inspired by a real-life robot. Steve Lenton’s illustrations are excellent and it is great to see Alfie and his friends positively depicted with their limb differences.


Books that represent neurodiversity

Guy Bass
 & Steve May
Chapter book
Noah Scape loves dinosaurs and spaghetti with tomato sauce. But Noah doesn't always get what he wants and when school doesn't revolve around dinosaur facts and lunch isn't always his tried and tested favourite, well... enough is enough! It's time for him to stop wishing and to decide on exactly what he needs; a world full of Noahs! Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+.
Zoe Antoniades
 & Katie Kear
Chapter book
Four stories in one! I have a twin brother. Everyone calls him Jimmy, which is sort of the English version of Dimitri, his actual Greek name. Our mum's Greek, you see. I'm Cally, short for Calista, which means, I don't want to sound big-headed or anything, 'most beautiful'. I'm not sure about Dimitri, but if Dimitri means most-annoying-brother-in-the-whole-wide-world, then that's him. Join Cally and Jimmy in four hilarious stories, perfect for newly confident readers. They get into scrapes together, bake some poisonous cakes, almost ruin their school assembly and finally have a twintastic birthday party.
Nicola Davies
 & Mike Byrne
Jake is different from the other kids at school. He struggles when routines change and people's emotions are so hard to understand. Christmas can be even worse and often the festivities are just too much to bear. But when Jake finds a little dog lost in the street he unlocks a connection he's never had before. Together Jake and Susan form a special bond that helps him to understand the world around him, changing his life for the better. Particularly suitable for struggling, reluctant or dyslexic readers aged 8+.
Aoife Dooley
Graphic Novel

This graphic novel follows the story of Frankie and offers readers a delightful blend of humour, relatability, and empathy. Drawn from the author’s own life experiences, this is told from the perspective of Frankie, a girl with autism. Frankie tackles bullies, discovers her strengths, and gains a deeper understanding of herself.

Readers will cheer Frankie on in this wonderful graphic novel of growth and self-discovery illustrated in bright oranges and blues.

Emma Finlayson-Palmer
 & Heidi Cannon
Chapter book
Autumn Moonbeam loves gymnastics and dance so when Sparkledale Dance Academy have try-outs for their competitive dance team, Black Cats, she thinks it’s the most broom-tastic opportunity ever! Just one problem, Autumn is nervous and worries she won’t make it onto the team. And then she discovers that her nasty neighbour Severina Bloodworth is trying out too. But with her best friend Batty by her side can Autumn overcome her shyness, lack of confidence and magical mishaps to be chosen to join Sparkledale Dance Academy?Enchanting, fun and full of heart, this is a story about growing into yourself, following your dreams and making new friends along the way. With added stunts and magic, of course!

Books that represent visual impairment and hearing loss

Samantha Baines
 & Jessica Flores
Chapter book
A hilarious and heartfelt debut from multi-award winning, hearing aid wearing, comedian, actor and author Samantha Baines. The intergalactic adventure starts at home with Harriet, who discovers that her hearing-aid can do more than she ever bargained for when she finds an alien in her room. Discovering that her family secretly work for an intergalactic agency, Harriet becomes the Earth's first line of defence as the only one who can understand the invaders. Sure, her hearing aid helps her understand aliens from across the universe, if only she could understand her own feelings.
Neil Gaiman
 & Divya Srinivasan
Picturebook
In a hot, hot country, ringed with mountains on one side and jungle on the other, lives a princess called Cinnamon. Her eyes are made of pearls, which means that she is blind. And, for reasons her parents the Rajah and Rani cannot fathom, she will not talk. So they offer a reward to anyone who can teach Cinnamon to speak. People travel from far and wide to attempt it, but nothing works. Until a mighty tiger, huge and fierce, prowls into their palace and announces that he is here to teach the girl-cub to talk ... A mighty fable from Neil Gaiman, winner of the Newbery and Carnegie Medals, illustrated in vivid colour by up-and-coming talent Divya Srinivasan, and now out in paperback.
Joyce Dunbar
 & John Shelley
Chapter book
A powerful and personal story from Joyce Dunbar about what it's like to experience hearing difficulties. Dylan can't hear as well as he used to be able to and he doesn't want to be different from his friends - he wants things to go back to the way they used to be. As his hearing gets worse he becomes more and more isolated from his friends. Luckily his dog Pluto is there to keep him down to earth... This heartwarming story from Joyce Dunbar has beautiful black-and-white illustrations by John Shelley and is perfect for children who are developing as readers.
Ross Montgomery
Chapter book
An action-packed adventure, imaginatively written with echoes of The Borrowers and Gulliver's Travels. Ten-year-old Max is singled out for being deaf by a despicable Headmaster who is evil enough to rival the Trunchbull. In order to solve a mystery at his boarding school, Max forms a friendship with another boy - overcoming their challenges and dispelling some assumptions about deafness along the way. The gaggle of five-year-old girls brings humour and slapstick to this heart-warming story. An excellent discussion opener for themes of bullying, friendships, difference and equality: "They were from two different species and they had never spoken the same language, but they were friends. And sometimes that's all you need to achieve the impossible."
Karen Owen
Chapter book

Callie and Bo are best friends. Together they have set up SPUD – the Super Perceptive Undercover Detectives. With the help of Callie’s pet Mynah bird, Bo, this is the second case the girls are hoping to solve. Bo’s special talent is that he can talk, communicating with Callie through her “slugs” (hearing aids) and the three are a great team.

On a school trip to the Tower of London, Bo stows away in Callie’s rucksack and the adventure begins. Two people are acting suspiciously and SPUD are on a mission to solve the case of the theft of precious gold coins from one of the exhibits. Bo’s ability to communicate with both his human friends and the ravens who guard the Tower allow them to get right into the investigation. As the story unfolds, the investigation takes them all over the museum as they chase their suspects. They even get to work with real detectives!

The author, Karen Owen, has been partially deaf since childhood and uses this series to bring relatable characters that children with hearing loss can identify with. In the character of Callie, this is very much a superpower rather than a disability.The black and white illustrations by Louise Forshaw are a great addition to the story.

This is a fun, easy read and a good introduction to the detective genre for readers aged 6+.


Books that represent learning difficulties, speech disorders and selective mutism

Tom Palmer
Chapter book
Ben is at his happiest playing for United and is getting top marks from the coach. But every day at school is a trial for Ben, as he struggles to hide a huge secret from his teachers and classmates. Ben's secret is starting to affect his game - can he swallow his pride and ask for help before he sidelines himself - for good?
Andrea Beaty
 & David Roberts
Picturebook

This story follows Aaron, a boy who loves stories but struggles with writing due to his difficulty in deciphering letters. But when his turn to write a story for the class comes around, inspiration strikes, and he finds another way to share his tale through the pictures he draws.

This book is part of a larger series that has gained popularity in schools, and for good reason. The other titles, such as “Rosie Revere, Engineer” and “Iggy Peck, Architect” are also engaging and give validity to the talents and strengths of each individual.

We love Aaron Slater, Illustrator as an empowering storytime read that can also lead to discussions about helping individuals find ways to personally thrive as well as touching on themes of dyslexia and the power of art.

Jacqueline Wilson
 & Nick Sharratt
Chapter book
Lizzie refuses to speak. She doesn't want to talk to Rory or Jake, her new stepbrothers. Or to Sam, their dad. Or even to her mum. She's completely fed up with having to join a new family, and nothing can convince her to speak to them. Not football, not pizza, not a new bedroom. That is, until she meets Great-Gran - a member of the new family who is even more stubborn than she is...
Jordan Scott
 & Sydney Smith
Picturebook
What if words got stuck in the back of your mouth whenever you tried to speak? After a day of being unable to speak when asked, and of being stared at, a boy and his father go to the river for some quiet time. "It's just a bad speech day," says Dad. But the boy can't stop thinking about all the eyes watching his lips twisting and twirling. When his father points to the river bubbling, churning, whirling and crashing, the boy finds a way to think about how he speaks. Even the river stutters. Like him. "I talk like a river," he says. An incredibly moving picture book that offers understanding rather than a solution, and which will resonate with all readers, young and old. Masterfully illustrated by Sydney Smith, winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal.
Camilla Chester
Chapter book

Leo wants to talk but he can’t. He has all the words but fear means they won’t come out. When Risha moves in next door, he’s worried that when his new friend finds out his secret he’ll be left alone again. But when he learns her secret, he hopes to help her and make her a permanent friend,

This book sensitively explains selective mutism for young (and older) readers. Told beautifully over a hot summer, we are let into the world of a young KS2 boy who is often treated as though he’s not there. He really wants to participate in school activities and make friends, but anxiety stops him. As the story progresses, we’re taken on a journey as Leo takes steps to achieve his future dream of dancing in The Lion King. However, if his selective mutism stops him from dancing in the summer dance show how can he ever dance on the West End Stage?

As readers, children can develop empathy for others who may find it difficult to speak in front of them, and the end of the book gives tips to support classmates. The story explains some of the frustrations that classmates of those with selective mutism might feel, and how to be supportive. It also gives a voice to those who might feel that, particularly in the classroom, they have none.

As a teacher this was an excellent read, giving an insight into how pupils with selective mutism might navigate the world around them and giving tips on how you might support a child in your class to give them the same opportunities as others. It would be great for use in PSHE lessons exploring empathy.


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Guidance: Diverse Books for Lower Ks2

In recent years, the book market for the 7-9 age bracket has blossomed and there is currently a wealth of brilliant books to choose from for Year 3 and Year 4. But with many young readers still being under-represented in the stories they read, how do you choose the best diverse and inclusive books for your Lower KS2 book collection?

Authentically told stories featuring a diverse range of characters help children to develop empathy and inclusion, enabling them to see themselves and their (current and future) friends in the pages they open, as well as providing a more realistic understanding of the world around us.

We’ve put together a selection of diverse and inclusive books that we recommend for children in Year 3 and Year 4 (ages 7-9), featuring characters that are traditionally underrepresented in children’s books. Research shows that only 9% of children’s books published in 2021 featured minority ethnic main characters. We’ve included a number of top books with minority ethnic characters on this list, like the fabulously funny Sam Wu is NOT Afraid of Ghosts or Serena Patel’s popular mishap-filled sleuth story  Anisha, Accidental Detective. We’ve also included books that give insights into underrepresented cultures, like the joyful British-Bengali wedding planning in Burhana Islam’s Mayhem Mission or the picturebook story of young Sonny and his traveller community in The Lost Homework. For more recommendations, we also have separate booklists for BAME Main Characters and Cultural Diversity.

The search for diverse and inclusive children’s books should not be limited to looking at ethnic and cultural representations alone. For books with Neurodivergent characters, we recommend Nicola Davies’ The Dog That Saved Christmas, which explores the bond between a boy with autism and a beloved canine friend, the The Cally and Jimmy series, portraying life for a set of twins where one is diagnosed with ADHD, or Sally Harris’ heartwarming and humourous story about the ups and downs of living with OCD in Double Felix. For characters with learning disabilities, try Tom Palmer’s football-themed Reading the Game, which features a dyslexic main character. We also recommend the beautiful and empathy-boosting picture book I Talk Like a River, which explores the experiences of coping with a speech and language difficulty.  

Physical disabilities are also largely underrepresented in middle-grade fiction. Try Ade Adepitan’s Cyborg Cat series or Joe’s New World from Maria Farrer’s Me and Mister P series – this particular story features a wheelchair user as the main character, but the whole series is highly recommendable for different types of representation. For characters with hearing loss, we recommend Samantha Baines’ own-voices story Harriet Versus the Galaxy or The Boy in the Jam Jar by Joyce Dunbar.

Finally, we have included in our collection books that portray different types of family life, from multi-generational and extended families in Sona Sharma to adoption and same-sex parenting in The Last Firefox and The Accidental Diary of B.U.G.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but will hopefully be a helpful starting point in diversifying your book collections for Year 3 and Year 4 and for helping you to consider where under-representation could be remedied. Full packs of these books are available for schools to purchase from Peters.

If you are looking for more Year 3 and Year 4 recommendations, be sure to check out our Reading for Pleasure hub.

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