Children’s books that centre Black, Asian and marginalized characters

Our edit of the best children’s books that centre Black, Asian and marginalized characters, for kids of all ages. 

4 minutes to read

Kids books featuring Black, Asian and marginalized characters are important for children of all cultures and ethnicities. Not only do they empower children with heroes and role models that look like them and their families, they are also a window onto the world, helping children to step into the shoes of others and build empathy. These wonderful kids books, which feature Black, Asian and marginalized characters or teach children about Black British history and cultures around the world, will be loved by young readers of all ages. 

Kids books about people of colour for ages 0–3


by Valerie Bloom

Book cover for 9781529007565

This award-winning book is a fun and educational counting poem from Valerie Bloom, with beautiful illustrations by David Axtell. How much fruit can one little girl eat? Count from one to ten, learning the names of different Caribbean fruits. The rhyming text helps little ones learn to count while exploring the Caribbean’s many delicious fruits.  

We’re Going on a Lion Hunt

by David Axtell

Book cover for 9781529007558

Full of David Axtell’s beautiful illustrations of magnificent animals, this adventure through the African savanna is a rendition of a well-known children’s poem. Two sisters go looking for a lion that lives on the African savanna. They go through swishy swashy long grass, a splishy splashy lake and a big dark cave – but when they finally meet the lion they have to run, run, run all the way home. 

Kids books about people of colour  for ages 3–5

Milo Imagines The World

by Matt de la Pena

Book cover for 9781529066319

This is a story about a little boy with a big imagination who learns that you can't know anyone just by looking at them, from the award-winning and New York Times bestselling picture book duo Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson. On a train journey with his sister, Milo draws pictures of the lives he imagines for the other passengers. He imagines a little boy with bright white trainers lives in a castle with a moat and butler, but when he gets off the train and realises the boy is heading to the same destination as him, he realises we're all more alike than different: both boys are visiting their mothers in prison. 

Albert Talbot: Master of Disguise

by Ben Manley

Book cover for 9781509882250

From getting up in the morning to going to bed at night, Albert faces many challenges. But by imagining himself as powerful heroes, from Rusti Buffels the Fearless Mountaineer to Zandrian Delaclair the Antarctic Submariner, he can feel brave as he faces adversity. This fun and playful picture book celebrates the joy of imaginative play and the freedom to be whoever you want. 

M is for Melanin

by Tiffany Rose

Book cover for 9781529062502

This joyful and empowering alphabet book teaches children their ABC and celebrates Black children, encouraging all kids to love the skin they’re in. Each letter of the alphabet contains affirming, black-positive messages, from E is for Empowerment, to L is for Lead to W is for Worthy.

Coming to England

by Floella Benjamin

Book cover for 9781529009422

Baroness Floella Benjamin travelled from Trinidad to London with her older sister and two younger brothers when she was just ten years old, as part of the Windrush generation. This is her inspiring true story. Arriving in England to be reunited with the rest of her family, cold and unfriendly London wasn’t quite what Floella expected. This beautifully illustrated and powerful true story about overcoming adversity is full of Floella’s trademark optimism and joy.

I Am Perfectly Designed

Book cover for 9781529036152

I am Perfectly Designed is the perfect story for families of all shapes and sizes to share. Embodying the kindness and love of its creator, Queer Eye star Karamo Brown, it’s an empowering story about loving who you are and a celebration of the bond between a parent and a child. A black father and son take a walk through the city, talking about how they were perfectly designed for each other. 

The Girl, the Bear and the Magic Shoes

by Julia Donaldson

Book cover for 9781447275985

When Josephine leaves the shop after buying some new running shoes, she realises she’s being followed by a bear with a backpack. Luckily for Josephine, her new shoes are anything but ordinary – these are magic shoes! This magical (and glittery) adventure by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks is a story you'll read together again and again.

A Hat for Mr Mountain

by Soojin Kwak

Book cover for 9781529012873

Soojin Kwan explores different materials and their properties in this quirkily illustrated story about kindness and creativity. Nara loves making hats for the animals that visit her workshop, but one day she receives a letter with a very special request – Mr Mountain wants a hat too! Nara is up for the challenge, but the woolly hat shrinks in the rain, the leaf hat is eaten and the stick hat gets burned. What material will make the perfect hat for Mr Mountain? 

The Twelve Days of Christmas


Book cover for 9781529043372

The Twelve Days of Christmas: Or Grandma is Overly Generous is a witty new take on the festive classic The Twelve Days of Christmas, accompanied by beautiful full-colour illustrations. In this gorgeous gift book Grandma's presents start off sensibly – a partridge is easy enough to take care of – but her generosity soon gets wildly out of hand . . .

Kids books about people of colour for ages 5–9

This is Our World

by Tracey Turner

Book cover for 9780753445792

This beautiful gift book is an unforgettable journey through twenty places around the world, vividly bringing to life the people, customs and wildlife. Children from Australia’s dusty Red Centre to bustling Beijing guide us through the place they call home. This is Our World is a colourful celebration of our planet’s cultural and environmental diversity. 

Counting on Katherine

Book cover for 9781529005592

Counting on Katherine is the true story of Katherine Johnson, an African American woman who played a major part in the success of the first-ever moon landing. From a young age Katherine had a passion for numbers. Despite the discrimination and racism she faced on a daily basis, she dedicated her life to honing her skills – skills that would one day save the lives of NASA astronauts.

Attack of the Heebie Jeebies

by Tom Percival

Book cover for 9781529029154

Attack of the Heebie Jeebies is the first book in Tom Percival’s fun and engaging illustrated series exploring anxiety in children. Erika has had a bad day. But going to sleep means bad dreams. When she finds herself trapped in the Dreamscape with a mob of Heebie Jeebies and with a terrifying Angermare on the loose, it’s up to the Dream Team to help her overcome her worries and get home safely. 

Kids books about people of colour for ages 9–12

Rumaysa: A Fairytale

by Radiya Hafiza

Book cover for 9781529038316
Read extract

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 . . . 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.

Read extract

Artichoke Hearts

by Sita Brahmachari

Book cover for 9781509855360

This Waterstones Children’s Book Prize-winning novel is an honest and insightful exploration of the delicate balance of life and death and of justice and injustice. Twelve-year-old Mira is trying to find her voice in her arty, creative, chaotic family and struggling with grief as her beloved Nana Josie’s health worsens. When she’s drawn to Jide, a mysterious boy who guides a troubled past, she begins to discover the wonderful and often mystical world around her. Artichoke Hearts is an uplifting celebration of friendship, culture and life. 

The Cloud Horse Chronicles: Guardians of Magic

by Chris Riddell

Book cover for 9781447277989

This is the first illustrated book in Chris Riddell’s magical adventure series The Cloudhorse Chronicles. The Guardians of Magic are three children who have no idea how powerful they really are. In their world, enemies of magic are working together to destroy it. Can Zam, Phoebe and Bathsheba believe in the impossible and fight back? If they don’t, soon magic and the mysterious cloud horses will be gone forever. 

Runaway Robot

by Frank Cottrell-Boyce

Book cover for 9781509887910

This funny, heartwarming adventure from award-winning children’s author Frank Cottrell Boyce is about two best friends helping to put each other back together. Alfie finds a lot more than he bargained for when he visits Airport Lost Property – in the form of a giant robot called Eric. Eric is sure he’s the latest technology when he’s actually about to be consigned to the scrapheap. Can Alfie find a way to save Eric? 

A House Without Walls

by Elizabeth Laird

Book cover for 9781509828241

Thirteen-year-old Safiya and her family have fled the civil war in Syria. Safiya knows she’s lucky to be alive, but it’s hard to have to look after her father and brother when all she wants to do is go to school. As the family start to rebuild their lives, she realises it’s time to uncover the secrets which were buried by the war. This is a powerful story of hope and family which will help older children understand the devastating effects of the refugee crisis in Syria.

The Lotterys Plus One

by Emma Donoghue

Book cover for 9781509803200

The Lotterys Plus One is the first children’s book from bestselling author Emma Donoghue. The Lotterys are a happy and multicultural family with four parents, seven kids and five pets, living together in their big old house called Camelottery. Nine-year-old Sumac is looking forward to a summer of fun, but the family’s lives are turned upside down with the arrival of their grumpy and intolerant grandad. How will the family cope? This charming illustrated novel is full of heart and humour. 

Kids books about people of colour for ages 12+

Black and British

by David Olusoga

Book cover for 9781529063394

This new edition of award-winning historian and broadcaster David Olusoga’s Black and British is aimed at younger readers and is illustrated with maps, photos and portraits. This is an essential introduction to 1800 years of the Black British history: from the Roman Africans who guarded Hadrian’s Wall right up to the present day.

Children of Blood and Bone

by Tomi Adeyemi

Book cover for 9781509871353

Children of Blood and Bone is the first book in Tomi Adeyemi’s West African-inspired fantasy series Legacy of Orisha. Zélie remembers when Orisha was full of magic. When different clans ruled with unique powers, including her Reaper mother who could summon forth souls. But everything changed when the ruthless king had anyone with powers killed. Now only a few people still have the power to use magic, and they must stay hidden. Zélie is one of those people, but now she has the chance to bring magic back to her people and strike against the monarchy . . .

We Hunt the Flame

Book cover for 9781529034097

Set in a magical world inspired by ancient Arabia, this is the first novel in Hafsah Faizal’s Sands of Arawiya duology. Zafira is the Hunter, braving the cursed forest to feed her people. But she must disguise herself as a man, for if people knew the Hunter was a girl they would reject all her achievements. When Zafira embarks on a mission to restore magic to her suffering world she meets Nasir, the Prince of Death. He has been sent to kill the Hunter and retrieve magic for the sultan . . . 

The Opposite of Always

by Justin A. Reynolds

Book cover for 9781509870042

When Jack meets Kate at a party he falls in love fast. The feeling is mutual and soon she’s meeting his friends, who are just as dazzled by Kate as Jack was. But then Kate dies.

That should be the end of the story, but it isn’t. Jack finds himself back at the moment they met, and Kate is just as happy and healthy as she was before. Jack fears he may be losing his mind, but if there’s a chance to save Kate, he’ll grab it with both hands. But Jack will soon find out that actions have consequences. How far will he be willing to go to save the people he loves?