50 books to diversify your school library

21st October 2016 at 12:01
books lying open
Writing in the 30 September issue of TES, teacher Darren Chetty argued that children should encounter more diverse literature in the classroom. TES readers asked for suggestions, so now an expert shares her recommendations for books to help diversify school reading lists

Download our free poster of 50 books to diversify your school library.

Two weeks ago, Darren Chetty, who taught in inner-London primary schools for almost 20 years, wrote in TES that teachers should be introducing their classes to literature representing the full diversity of British society.

"Many primary school children have encountered only books with white human characters," Chetty wrote.

"Often when they do encounter characters racialised as other than white, it is tied in with the celebration of a holiday such as Diwali, or in connection with Black History Month.

"Yet it seems reasonable to wish that children see people of all backgrounds as an ordinary part of everyday literature."

Chetty's article was accompanied by a list of suggested texts to help teachers diversify their class reading, compiled by Karen Sands-O'Connor, a professor of children's literature. 

50 recommended reads

Following the article's publication, we received lots of requests from TES readers for a more extensive list of texts, which could be displayed in classrooms and school libraries. 

Sands-O'Connor was more than happy to oblige. She has now expanded her original list into 50 recommended titles that will help you diversify your reading corners and classroom bookshelves.

You can download the list as a colourful poster that you can share with your students and colleagues.

"Writers of colour have been publishing in Britain for British audiences for more than 50 years now, but often these books have gone out of print, with publishers citing lack of audience," Chetty wrote, in his original article. "But the audience is there, because all children are (or should be) the audience for good literature."

It is the teacher's job to get those books into children's hands, Chetty argued. And while it might take a bit of effort to seek the right texts out, he said, it will be worth it in the long run. 

"Because when kids start seeing themselves and their classmates in books, they learn that they all have a role to play – in the classroom, in books and in Britain's literary heritage."

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