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.