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Cultural Diversity

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Cultural Diversity Booklist

On this booklist we have picked some of the best books for primary schools to help promote cultural diversity. Books can act as both windows through which to see the world and mirrors for readers to see themselves reflected in the pages. The books on this list are selected to help children to see different cultures represented in the stories they read.

You can see our full range of Diverse and Inclusive booklists here.

Picturebooks about cultural diversity

Matt de la Pena
 & Christian Robinson
Picturebook
Winner of numerous awards, this picture book follows CJ and his grandmother as they make a bus journey across town. As they chat about what is important in life, the pair take in the truly diverse city scape, encountering a multitude of passengers and passers-by of all demographics. The story of the journey and the striking illustrations come together to positively depict a world wherein cultural divisions and segregation can find no place to land and difference is celebrated for its enriching cultural effect.
Levi Pinfold
This picture book is popular in Key Stage 2. It portrays a Romani boy called Jean, who is drawn in by a special character called the Django. The Django is full of fun but always seems to get Jean into trouble. One day the Django disappears and Jean finds a way to feel close to him by playing his own music on the banjo. The illustrations are rich in detail and evocative of the Romani community in which Jean lives.
Caroline Binch
Picturebook

This text has become a classic that has earned its place in many classroom book corners across the whole primary age range. It tells the story of young Gregory as he sets about on his first day in Tobago with his grandparents. At first he can find nothing familiar or desirable, but as he begins to adjust to life in the Caribbean, he soon finds that it is possible to feel right at home in a new culture.

Yangsook Choi
Picturebook
This is an empathetic story that aims to encourage children to appreciate themselves and others and not to feel the need to hide their cultural heritage. The Name Jar tells the tale of Unhei, a young girl who is anxious when she moves from Korea to a new school in America. Too afraid to tell the class her name, Unhei decides that she will choose a new name for herself the following week. But on the day of her name choosing, Unhei is encouraged by the kindness of her new friends and she chooses to keep her own Korean name, Unhei, proudly teaching everybody how to everyone pronounce it properly.
Matt Goodfellow
 & Yu Rong
Picturebook

Shu Lin’s Grandpa is perfect for use with a new starter to your class, particularly if they speak English as an additional language. It would also be a great story to support work on empathy and inclusion, whether or not there is a new starter at school. The artwork in the book is fitted carefully around the text and brings it to life – the star piece being a beautiful double-gatefold picture by grandpa. The illustration provides a good opportunity to look at this style of oriental art and have a go in school, as well as a chance to discuss celebrating difference, sharing heritage and welcoming others…


Ibtihaj Muhammad & S.K Ali
 & Hatem Aly
Picturebook
Asiya's hijab is like the ocean and the sky, no line between them, saying hello with a loud wave. It's Faizah's first day of school, and her older sister Asiya's first day of hijab - made of a beautiful blue fabric. But not everyone sees hijab as beautiful. In the face of hurtful, confusing words, will Faizah find new ways to be strong? This is an uplifting, universal story of new experiences, the unbreakable bond shared by siblings and of being proud of who you are, from Olympic medallist Ibtihaj Muhammad.
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.
Radhiah Chowdhury
 & Lavanya Naidu
Picturebook
Six-year-old Asiya loves to go to Nanu's house. Best among all of Nanu's treasures is the big old chest filled with quilts that tell the stories of the women in Asyia's family. With gorgeous, fresh and beautifully colourful illustrations inspired by Bangladeshi katha quilts and traditional West Bengali pattachitra panel illustrations, The Katha Chest is a beautifully woven tale about the bonds of love, culture and memory.
Patrice Lawrence
 & Jeanetta Gonzales
When Paloma goes to visit her family in Trinidad, she doesn’t feel that she fits in. But Tante Janet has a story to tell her: An ancient story of warrior queens and talking drums, of treasures and tales that span thousands of years… a story that Paloma shares in, because her story starts in Africa, too.. Join Tante and her inquisitive niece as they share the story of how her family came to the Caribbean, through the dark days of colonization and slavery, to the emergence of a thriving, contemporary community of many faces, places and successes.
Sarah van Dongen
Picturebook
Koya and her friends, Hassan and Alex, love to visit their neighbour, Mrs Fig. When they find out Mrs Fig is moving to a retirement home, they want to help their parents plan her going away party! When cooking for the party, the children are aware of everyone's dietary needs and are excited to prepare yummy vegan and vegetarian food everyone will be able to eat! Everyone on Redbird Road gather to celebrate Mrs Fig and enjoy the food!

Atinuke
 & Angela Brooksbank
Picturebook
Lami loves chickens. She's the best chicken catcher in the village. She's fast, she's brave and she always catches that chicken. Until the day she chases one up the baobab tree, slips ... and falls. How can she catch chickens with a sore ankle? Could there be another way to catch that chicken? Told with great humour by Nigerian storyteller, Atinuke, this story of the headstrong, impetuous Lami will strike a chord with all children. The gentle message - to use quick thinking not just quick running - gives an incredibly satisfying ending, while Angela Brooksbank's beautiful artwork captures the energy and the beauty of the West African setting perfectly.

Chapter books about cultural diversity

Elizabeth Laird
Chapter book
This is the story of a young Ethiopian boy called Solomon, who has a passion for running. He dreams of becoming a medal-winning athlete. Little does he know that soon he will need to run with all his might in a race to save his grandfather's life. This inspiring story was shortlisted for the prestigious Carnegie Medal.
Stella Gurney & Petr Horacek
Chapter book
An uplifting book that represents one Polish girl's experience of migration to the UK. Kasia misses her old home in Poland, especially her friends and family, and finds it hard to like her new home in England. When her grandparents arrive from Poland for a surprise visit, Kasia finds delight in showing them around her town and realises that she is fonder of her new home than she thought. This is a short chapter book of 64 pages, designed forearly readers.
Sangu Mandanna
Chapter book

To say I enjoyed this book would be an understatement. The story has a diverse cast of characters and pays tribute to the Hindu legends that inspired it. Full of fantasy, adventure and friendship, it is bound to be a winner in many classrooms.
Kiki has to be one of my favourite main characters that I have read recently. The descriptions of her anxieties and how it affects her life really will resonate with many children

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.
Kelly Yang
 & Maike Plenzke
Chapter book

A story about a Chinese girl called Mia living in America with her parents, this book explores the themes of immigration, prejudice, poverty, institutionalised racism and what it looks like to hold onto hope in turbulent times.  Mia’s account of the difficulties her family faces as immigrants in modern day America is moving and powerful.  Recommended for upper KS2 and beyond.


Chitra Soundar
 & Amberin Huq
Sindhu and Jeet are the best detectives in town: they solve all their cases with a dollop of observation, a dash of imagination and a whole load of legwork. And when they travel from India to England for a holiday, the detective work doesn't stop! This page-turning story is accompanied by black-and-white illustrations by Amberin Huq. The Bloomsbury Readers series is packed with book-banded stories to get children reading independently in Key Stage 2 by award-winning authors like double Carnegie Medal winner Geraldine McCaughrean and Waterstones Prize winner Patrice Lawrence. With black-and-white illustrations and online guided reading notes written by the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE), this series is ideal for home and school. For more information visit www.bloomsburyguidedreading.com.
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?
Chapter book

Omar is a boy with a huge imagination that can land him in trouble. As well as being very funny, the stories tackle important issues like bullying and prejudice, with Omar’s diary-style entries covering the everyday ups and downs of life including Muslim traditions, school worries, friendships, family life and a big dose of toilet humour.

Read our Q&A with author Zanib Mian over on our blog.

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