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Black History Month Booklist

A group of cartoon black people reading and listening to books around an oval which has proud to be, black history month 2021 written on it
02 September 2021

Essex Library Services- Black History Month Booklist 



Adults Booklist

100 Great Black Britons by Patrick Vernon

Patrick Vernon's landmark '100 Great Black Britons' campaign of 2003 was one of the most successful movements to focus on the role of people of African and Caribbean descent in British history. Frustrated by the widespread and continuing exclusion of the black British community from the mainstream popular conception of 'Britishness', despite black people having lived in Britain for over a thousand years, Vernon set up a public poll in which anyone could vote for the black Briton they most admired. The response to this campaign was incredible. As a result, a number of black historical figures were included on the national school curriculum and had statues and memorials erected and blue plaques put up in their honour. Now, with this book, Vernon and Osborne have relaunched the campaign with an updated list of names and accompanying portraits.

Reserve 100 Great Black Britons 


Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People about Race By Reni Eddo-Lodge

In February 2014, Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote about her frustration with the way discussions of race and racism in Britain were constantly being led by those who weren't affected by it. She posted the piece on her blog, and gave it the title: 'Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People about Race'. Her powerful, passionate words hit a nerve. The post went viral, and comments flooded in from others desperate to speak up about their own, similar experiences. Galvanised by this response, she decided to dig into the source of these feelings. The result is a searing, illuminating, absolutely necessary exploration of what it is to be a person of colour in Britain today.

Reserve Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People about Race


Maybe I Don’t Belong Here By David Harewood

A groundbreaking account of the effects of everyday racism on the identity and mental health of Black British men, explored through the lens of Homeland and Supergirl actor David Harewood's personal experience.

Reserve Maybe I Don't Belong Here


This Lovely City By Louise Hare

The drinks are flowing. The music is playing. But the party can't last. With the Blitz over and London reeling from war, jazz musician Lawrie Matthews has answered England's call for help. Fresh off the Empire Windrush, he's taken a tiny room in south London lodgings, and has fallen in love with the girl next door. Touring Soho's music halls by night, pacing the streets as a postman by day, Lawrie has poured his heart into his new home - and it's alive with possibility. Until, one morning, he makes a terrible discovery. As the local community rallies, fingers of blame are pointed at those who had recently been welcomed with open arms. And, before long, the newest arrivals become the prime suspects in a tragedy which threatens to tear the city apart.

Reserve This Lovely City


Black and British A Forgotten History By David Olusoga

David Olusoga's 'Black and British' is a rich and revealing exploration of the long relationship between the British Isles and the people of Africa. Drawing on new genetic and genealogical research, original records, expert testimony and contemporary interviews, Black and British reaches back to Roman Britain, the medieval imagination and Shakespeare's Othello.

Reserve Black and British, A Forgotten History


The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the Hostile Environment by Amelia Gentleman

How do you pack for a one-way journey back to a country you left when you were eleven and have not visited for fifty years? Join Amelia Gentleman on her investigation into one of the most shocking political scandals of modern Britain. Learn about the people directly affected and understand the impact of policy decisions decided by disconnected politicians.

Reserve The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the Hostile Environment


Brit(ish) by Afua Hirsch

You're British. Your parents are British. You were raised in Britain. Your partner, your children and most of your friends are British. So why do people keep asking you where you are from? 'Brit(ish)' is about a search for identity. It is about the everyday racism that plagues British society. It is about our awkward, troubled relationship with our history. It is about why liberal attempts to be 'colour-blind' have caused more problems than they have solved. It is about why we continue to avoid talking about race. Afua Hirsch explores a very British crisis of identity. We are a nation in denial about our past and our present. We believe we are the nation of abolition, but forget we are the nation of slavery. We are convinced that fairness is one of our values, but that immigration is one of our problems. 'Brit(ish)' is the story of how and why this came to be, and an urgent call for change.

Reserve Brit(ish)


Voices of the Windrush Generation by David Matthews

With over 20 first-hand accounts from men, women, and children of Windrush, this work sheds light on the true impact of one of the most disastrous and damaging scandals in recent memory, and gives a platform to those most affected - those whose voices have yet to be truly heard. Their stories provide intimate, personal and moving perspective on what it means to be black in Britain today, and the heartache the 'hostile environment policy' our government has created has meant for those who have called this country home for half a century and more.

Reserve Voices of the Windrush Generation


Lovers and Strangers By Clair Wills

The battered and exhausted Britain of 1945 was desperate for workers - to rebuild, to fill the factories, to make the new NHS work. From all over the world and with many motives, thousands of individuals took the plunge. Most assumed they would spend just three or four years here, sending most of their pay back home, but instead large numbers stayed - and transformed the country. Drawing on an amazing array of unusual and surprising sources, Clair Wills' book brings to life the incredible diversity and strangeness of the migrant experience. She introduces us to lovers, scroungers, dancers, homeowners, teachers, drinkers, carers, and many more to show the opportunities and excitement as much as the humiliation and poverty that could be part of the new arrivals' experience.

Reserve Lovers and Strangers


Homecoming by Colin Grant

When Colin Grant was growing up in Luton in the 1960s, he learned not to ask his Jamaican parents why they had emigrated to Britain. 'We're here because we're here', his father would say, 'You have some place else to go?'. But now, seventy years after the arrival of ships such as the Windrush, this generation of pioneers are ready to tell their stories. 'Homecoming' draws on over a hundred first-hand interviews, archival recordings and memoirs by the women and men who came to Britain from the West Indies between the late 1940s and the early 1960s

Reserve Homecoming


Surge by Jay Bernard

Jay Bernard's powerful debut traces a line between two significant events in recent British history: the New Cross Massacre of 1981 in which thirteen young black people were killed in a house fire - and the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017. The collection stems from research undertaken about the New Cross Fire during a 2016 residency at the George Padmore Institute.

Reserve Surge


Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain by Peter Fryer

There were Africans in Britain before the English came here'. In his epic history that spans from the Roman conquest to the present day, Peter Fryer presents two thousand years of Black Britons. This is the story that shows Britain as it always has been: a deeply woven quilt of many races and cultures that have influenced and shaped the country we understand it to be today.

Reserve Staying Power


Young Adult Booklist

This Book Is Anti-Racist By Tiffany Jewell

This is a book that will help in the conversation for change. Tiffany Jewel offers insights and advice on how to create an anti-racist world. This is book can be a helpful aid in the era of Black Lives Matter ging practical guidance and inspiration.

Reserve This Book is Anti-Racist


What Is Race By Claire Heuchan And Nikesh Shukla

Exploring the history of race and society and giving context to how racist attitudes come into being. It looks at identity, the damaging effects of stereotyping and the benefits of positive representation. The authors talk sensitively about how to identify and challenge racism, and how to protect against and stop racist behaviour.

Reserve What is Race


The Story of Windrush By K.N. Chimbiri

In June 1948, hundreds of Caribbean men, women and children arrived in London on a ship called the HMT Empire Windrush. Although there were already Black people living in Britain at the time, this event marks the beginning of modern Black Britain. Combining historical fact with voices from the Windrush Generation, this book sensitively tells the inspiring story of the Windrush Generation pioneers for younger readers.

Reserve The Story of Windrush


A Change Is Gonna Come – Various Authors

An anthology of stories and poetry on the theme of change featuring Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic writers for Young Adults.

Reserve A Change is Gonna Come


Cane Warriors By Alex Wheatle

This story is inspired by a rebellion in British-owned slave plantations in Jamaica in 1760 that actually happened. 14 year old Moa’s dad warns him not to join in the rebellion being plotted by charismatic leader Tacky because he can’t bear to lose another son, but Moa makes the decision to become a Cane Warrior and join the resistance - even a glimmer of hope of freedom is better than the horrendous life he is forced to live on the plantation. Tacky represents the chance to seize a new life; how could Moa refuse?

This is a brutal story, compellingly written and heartstopping to read. Cane Warriors is a book about doing the right thing and incredible bravery; but most importantly this book is about a part of British and Jamaican history that is little known.

Reserve Cane Warriors


Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman

In Malorie Blackman's ground breaking novel, the population is divided into two: the white Noughts are second-class citizens, and the black Crosses are perceived as the superior race. 15-year-old Callum is a Nought, and his best friend, Sephy, is a Cross. The story focuses on their relationship exploring the discrimination they encounter. By reversing traditional racial stereotypes and presenting the White population as the oppressed race, Malorie Blackman illustrates racial prejudice from a different perspective.

Reserve Noughts and Crosses


Coram Boy by Jamila Gavin

Coram Boy is the story of two boys; Toby, saved from an African ship as a child, and Aaron, the illegitimate son of the heir to a great estate. The boys' lives are linked by the Coram Man, a shady figure who collects abandoned, unwanted children, supposedly to take them to a safe new life at the Coram Hospital in London. But in reality, he sells the unfortunate children into slavery, or 'disposes' of them if they are of no use to him. Toby and Aaron find themselves united  in an epic journey, fraught with danger and excitement. This enthralling, moving and sometimes distressing book provides an insight into the world of the 1750s.

Reserve Coram Boy


Children's Booklist


Black and British : A Short Essential History by David Olusoga

When did Africans first come to Britain? Who are the well-dressed black children in Georgian paintings? Why did the American Civil War disrupt the Industrial Revolution? These and many other questions are answered in this 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.

Reserve Black and British: A Short Essential History

and British : An Illustrated History by David Olusoga

When did Africans first come to Britain? Who are the well-dressed black children in Georgian paintings? Why did the American Civil War disrupt the Industrial Revolution? These and many other questions are answered in this 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.

Reserve Black and British: An Illustrated History


Little Leaders: Bold Women In Black History by Vashti Harrison

Featuring 40 trailblazing black women in the world's history, this book educates and inspires as it relates true stories of women who broke boundaries and exceeded all expectations. Debut author/illustrator Vashti Harrison pairs captivating text with stunning illustrations as she tells the stories of both iconic and lesser-known female figures of black history - from nurse Mary Seacole, to politician Diane Abbott, mathematician Katherine Johnson and singer Shirley Bassey.

Reserve Little Leaders: Bold Women in Black History


Little leaders: Exceptional Men In Black History by Vashti Harrison

This beautifully illustrated volume educates and inspires as it relates true stories of black men in history. Illuminating text paired with irresistible full-colour art bring to life both iconic and lesser-known figures. Among these biographies, readers will find aviators and artists, politicians and pop culture icons. The men featured include writer James Baldwin, artist Aaron Douglas, photographer Gordon Parks, diplomat Kofi Annan, comic book author Dwayne McDuffie, and musician Prince.

Reserve Little Leaders: Exceptional Men in Black History


Coming to England by Floella Benjamin

The inspiring true story of Baroness Floella Benjamin: from Trinidad, to London as part of the Windrush generation, to the House of Lords. When she was ten years old, Floella Benjamin, along with her older sister and two younger brothers, set sail from Trinidad to London, to be reunited with the rest of their family. Alone on a huge ship for two weeks, then tumbled into a cold and unfriendly London, coming to England wasn't at all what Floella had expected. 'Coming to England' is both deeply personal and universally relevant - Floella's experiences of moving home and making friends will resonate with young children, who will be inspired by her trademark optimism and joy.

Reserve Coming to England, the picture book edition


Reserve Coming to England


Windrush Child by Benjamin Zephanie

The Windrush generation are named after one of the first ships that arrived in the UK from Jamaica in 1948. In this heart-stopping adventure based on real historical events, Benjamin Zephaniah shows us what it was like being a child of the Windrush generation, an important and intriguing time in Britain that's sure to fascinate young readers.

Reserve Windrush Child


Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country by Antinuke

A celebration of all 55 countries on the African continent! Atinuke's text captures Africa's unique mix of the modern and the traditional, as she explores its geography, its peoples, its animals, its history, its resources and its cultural diversity.

Reserve Africa, Amazing Africa: Country by Country


Timelines From Black History: Leaders, Legends, Legacies

This is a fascinating book with clear and well laid out information and photography, providing a great place for mid to older primary aged children to learn about notable contemporary and historical black people and events.

The lives and achievements of figures as diverse as Stormzy, Oprah Winfrey, basketball star LeBron James, poet and novelist Maya Angelou, slavery abolitionist Olaudah Equiano and activist and creator of Afrobeat music Fela Kuti are chronicled in this brilliant book that follows black history across many centuries up until  today.

Reserve Timelines From Black History: Leaders, Legends, Legacies


Young, Gifted And Black By Jamia Wilson

This beautiful and eye-catching hardback celebrates a selection of black icons from history and the present day to inspire all children to discover what they can achieve. Many of the accounts detail great hardship and prejudice, and in the wake of the #Blacklivesmatter movement, this collection’s focus is an ideal book to share with children who have questions about what’s happening in the world today.

Reserve Young, Gifted and Black


The Perfect Fit By Naomi Jones

We’re all different and we all sometimes don’t fit. For some, more than others. This fun picture book tells a story about how being different doesn’t mean we can’t find our place in society. An excellent starter for conversations about diversity and difference, pitched perfectly for young, curious minds.

Reserve The Perfect Fit


Hey You! An Empowering Celebration Of Growing up Black By Dapo Adeola

A baby is born to loving parents, and grows up – going to school, making friends. Sometimes, as she grows up, she encounters racism, and as result, life can be hard. It’s hard for her to find books containing girls that look like her.  This picture book was born out of Adeola’s reaction to the killing of George Floyd and his realisation that, as a child, he didn’t see books featuring black children. This picture book is a  touching, empowering text that highlights the power of black heritage, community and family.

Reserve Hey You! An Empowering Celebration of Growing up Black

Anansi Booklist

Anansi and the box of stories by Kate Dale and Valentina Bandera

A beautifully illustrated retelling of this favourite African tale. Anansi the spider is a trickster and he will stop at nothing to get Nyame's story box, proving that even the littlest among us can achieve the greatest things. 'Reading Champion' offers independent reading books for children to practise and reinforce their developing reading skills.

Reserve Anansi and the box of stories by Kate Dale and Valentina Bandera


Anansi and Mr Snake and other stories

Simply retold and wonderfully illustrated, this series brings together charming tales that children will enjoy. Each story takes approximately 10 minutes to read.

Reserve Anansi and Mr Snake and other stories 


Anansi the banana thief by Anne Adeney

'Leapfrog World Tales' is a series of brightly illustrated stories from different cultures simply retold in under 180 words, perfect for newly independent readers.

Reserve Anansi the banana thief by Anne Adeney 


Too many webs for Anansi told by Malachy Doyle and Lisa Smith

'Leapfrog World Tales' is a series of brightly illustrated stories from different cultures simply retold in under 180 words, perfect for newly independent readers.

Reserve Too many webs for Anansi told by Malachy Doyle and Lisa Smith 


Anansi and the sheep by Adam Bushnell

Anansi the spider is clever and helpful. When he comes across a sad and hungry sheep, Anansi decides to help the sheep find greener pastures. Along the way, he must also save them both from hungry wild beasts!

Reserve Anansi and the sheep by Adam Bushnell 


Anansi and the talking melon by Eric Kimmel

Reserve Anansi and the talking melon by Eric Kimmel 


Anansi and the bag of wisdom by Lesley Sims

Anansi, King of the Spiders, is given a bag of wisdom to share but selfishly decides to keep it to himself. But can he carry it up to his secret hiding place without dropping it?

Reserve Anansi and the bag of wisdom by Lesley Sims 


Tales from the Caribbean by Trish Cooke

A collection of favourite tales gathered from the many different islands of the Caribbean, one of the world's richest sources of traditional storytelling. From the very first Kingfisher to Anansi the Spider Man, these lively retellings full of humour and pathos, are beautifully retold by Trish Cooke. The book includes endnotes with a glossary, additional information as well as ideas for activities that children can do to explore the stories further.

Reserve Tales from the Caribbean by Trish Cooke


Anansi boys by Neil Gaiman

A brand new BBC Radio 4 full-cast dramatisation of Neil Gaiman’s bestselling and much-loved novel.

When his father dies, Fat Charlie Nancy discovers that not only was the late Mr Nancy actually the god Anansi, but that he also has a long-lost brother, Spider, who is everything Fat Charlie is not. When Spider begins to take over Fat Charlie’s life, flat and even his fiancée Rosie, Fat Charlie is forced to make a pact that lands him in trouble with the gods themselves...

Anansi Boys is a story of love, laughter, music and murder, old gods and new tricks that takes Fat Charlie from his home in South London to Florida, the Caribbean, and the very Beginning of the World itself. Or the End of the World. Depending on which direction you’re coming from.

Reserve Anansi boys by Neil Gaiman 


Anansi boys by Neil Gaiman

Desperate to reclaim his life, Charlie enlists the help of four eccentric old ladies and their unique brand of voodoo - and between them they unleash a bitter and twisted force to get rid of Spider. But as darkness descends and badness begins is Fat Charlie Nancy going to get his life back in one piece?

Reserve Anansi boys by Neil Gaiman