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First marked in the UK in October 1987, as part of African Jubilee Year, Black History Month is a recognition of the heritage, culture and achievements of Black Britons. This year’s theme, ‘Time for Change: Action Not Words’, seeks to celebrate the personal stories and diverse legacies of Black and Brown people in the UK.

To celebrate this annual event, I have gathered together books from all the different sections of our Grimsdell library to showcase books featuring Black characters, exploring Black personalities and those written by some of our best Black authors and commentators. Therefore, our Book of the Week will take a different format this week. Don’t worry – next week, once again, your Junior Librarians will be sharing their Black History Month recommendations with you!


One particular book I will be sharing with the children as part of our celebration of Black History Month is by the former recipient of the Waterstones Children’s Book of the Year award, Dapo Adeola. This book formed part of the 2021-22 Year 2 Adventure Reading Road Map programme and was a firm favourite amongst the children.

‘Hey You’ is a tender and inspiring picture book about growing up Black, incorporating stunning artwork by some of the most exciting Black illustration talents working today. The book addresses – honestly yet hopefully – the experiences of Black children face growing up and provides hope for the future, delivering a powerful message to a new generation of dreamers. It’s a message that is both urgent and timeless – and offers a rich and rewarding reading experience for every child.

To mirror the rich variety of Black diaspora, this book showcases artwork from Dapo and 18 incredible Black illustrators in one beautiful, powerful and cohesive reading experience. It contains work by the illustrator Joelle Avelino, who will be involved in leading our Black History Month Assembly on 14 October.

During library sessions, I will be inviting the children to meet icons of colour from the past and present – ‘Young, Gifted , Black’ is a celebration of inspirational achievement – a collection of stories about changemakers to encourage, inspire and empower the next generation of changemakers. Jamia Wilson has carefully curated this range of Black icons and the books is stylishly brought together by Andrea Pippins’ colourful and celebratory illustrations.

Written in the spirit of Nina Simone’s song ‘To Be Young, Gifted and Black’, this vibrant book is a perfect introduction to both historic and present-day icons and heroes.

All children deserve to see themselves represented positively in the books they read. Highlighting the talent and contributions of Black leaders and changemakers from around the world, readers of all backgrounds will be empowered to discover what they too can achieve. Strong, courageous, talented and diverse, these extraordinary women and men’s achievements will inspire a new generation to chase their dream … whatever it may be.

It’s important that children have access to diverse books, and we endeavour to ensure that Grimsdell has a wide and varied range of literature. I feel sure that our Grimsdell young readers will love my final two Books of the Week, one of which (‘Bookworm’) is an old favourite and the other (‘Billy and the Pirates’) a new addition to our collection. Featuring Black characters at the forefront, these stories have positive role models that inspire and empower.

Firstly, a firm favourite amongst our Early Years children is the heart-warming story from Debi Gliori, ‘Bookworm’. Max wants a pet, but mum and dad don’t want a puppy, a kitten, a shark or a dragon. It’s so not fair! Max decides to find himself a pet, but it’s not easy – birds are chatty but don’t want to live in houses and wasps don’t mind living in houses but aren’t that friendly. Finally, Max finds a worm for a pet and brings it home to live in a bowl of earth in his room.

Excitingly, the worm loves listening to Max read books; it also loves curry and extra hot chilli crisps. Yet when the worm starts to change, Max realises it isn’t a worm at all… Will Max’s pet still come home for a book at bedtime? Or has it grown too big and dangerous for stories?

Debi Gliori’s tale of a boy and his unusual pet’s relationship is full of the everyday magic that stories bring, being firmly rooted in Max’s home life and the relatable desire for a pet that is so common for young children, while also being a tribute to the transformative nature of reading.

My second book of the week is Billy and the Pirates by Nadia Shireen. Newly published, this is the third in Nadia Shireen’s Billy books and is as engaging as the first two. Shireen’s comic timing is first class, and her characters are full of brilliant wide-eyed, hilarious expressions while remaining cuddly, relatable and full of comforting warmth.

Billy and Fatcat go on a sea adventure and get captured by Captain Howl. Ahoy there! It’s time to sail the ocean blue with Billy and her trusty feline friend, as they embark on a noble seafaring adventure.
Billy and Fatcat find a mysterious message in a bottle at sea. When suddenly something terrible happens, they bump into a pesky pirate and his smelly crew. Oh no!

Fortunately for our courageous twosome, they’re no strangers to peril: they always have a trick (or treat) up their sleeves …

All of the books (and many more!) are available to borrow from our Grimsdell Library.

Happy Reading!

Mrs Harvey