Our earliest perceptions of the world and its cultures are shaped by the books we read and it is essential that children see a true reflection of our society in the literature recommended and available to them. An absence of an inclusive range of role models or characters in our books risks detering children from minority backgrounds from the joy and enrichment that a love of reading can bring. 

The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) Reflecting Realities Survey of Ethnic Representation within UK Children’s Literature shows 30% of the children’s titles published in 2022 featured racially minoritised characters, up from 4% in the first report in 2017. The annual CLPE survey, which is funded by Arts Council England, launched in 2017 with the key focus of determining the extent and quality of ethnic minority characters featured within Picturebooks, Fiction and Non-Fiction for ages 3–11 published in the UK.

The six years of reporting provide benchmark statistics which have seen a sustained increase in the number and percentage of fiction books that contain characters from racial minorities; a standard which is vital in ensuring all children have the opportunity to become readers by providing books where they can see themselves, their experience and the wider world reflected. The increase of representative titles published also corresponds with an increase in the presence of ethnic minority main characters, with 14% of the children’s fiction books published in 2022 featuring minority ethnic main characters, compared to 9% in 2021 and well up from the 1% in 2017.

However, while this slow but positive growth is to be welcomed there remains a significant disparity between the demographic make up of story worlds compared to the world as actually experienced by young readers. 

And for the first year in its history the report shows a decrease in the presence of racially minoritised characters in picturebooks and non-fiction.

Farrah Serroukh Executive Director of Research and Development said ‘We welcome the increase in overall output and were pleased to encounter more variation in the breadth of realities reflected in the literature we reviewed. We encourage publishers and creatives to build on the traction of recent years and continue to strive towards improving the volume and quality of titles that meaningfully reflect realities available to young readers.’ 

You can read the full CLPE Reflecting Realities Survey of Ethnic Representation within UK Children’s Literature, published in November 2023 here.

We have brilliant authors, illustrators and relevant literature to recommend, enabling all children to find themselves reflected in books. We have curated an exciting and diverse list of books to help build understanding, empathy and tolerance of our different backgrounds and that also entertain and celebrate our rich, shared cultural heritage.

The books in our selection include a diverse cast, some actively teach about diversity and inclusion and others celebrate role models and historical figures in non-fiction titles. Many of the novels include diverse families without actively teaching about diversity and are great additions to every child's library. Scroll down for a selection of books that celebrate difference, suitable for toddlers to teens, catalogued in age order. 

LoveReading4Kids editorial expert Julia Eccleshare has spent much of her career championing the need for more diversity in children's books, said “The images and stories that children hear from the very beginning of their lives are instrumental in expanding their view of the world and in shaping their later attitudes. Born without any sense of the artificial divisions between people or hierarchies in their status, which may later be imposed, pre-schoolers are open-minded. For that reason, making sure that everyone is represented in pictures and words is vital.” Read more from Julia in her article The Importance of Diversity in Children's Books.

We will continuously update this category as we read and review new, relevant publications. 

You can find further recommended reads in :

20+ Kids Books that celebrate Family Diversity

30+ Children Books Celebration Neurodiversity

50+ Children's Books Exploring Black History & Culture

40 Books with Positive Images of Disability

20+ Brilliant Books featuring Deaf or Hard of Hearing Characters

15 Children's Books featuring Poverty and Homelessness