It’s that time of year again, we’re coming to the end of the year and looking back on it deciding what we are going to be taking forward into 2018, what we’ve learned, how we've grown and what we’ll be leaving behind. As a self-confessed bookworm, year after year I am gifted and devour book after book. Mostly non-fiction and all intersectional feminist must reads. I’ve been this way since I was a kid and when I met Paul and found out that he was also a book worm I knew he was my soul mate. Since the birth of my babies I have been determined to pass on our joint love of literature and this has meant that since the day they were born we’re read to them.
As they’ve grown I’ve come to realise how important it is to choose our children’s books carefully. When our kids are young their worlds are relatively small and so our bookcases can be our children’s first window into the complexities of the world, diversity and the importance of representation.
So, after another year of book reading and buying and returning due to a woeful lack of representation (Julia Donaldson I’m looking at YOU!) I give you my ultimate intersectional feminism starter pack for your littles, an end of year round-up if you will. A starter pack for a well-rounded and diverse bookcase.
Each book has been lovingly selected, tested and approved by our family and I hope you will enjoy the special moments of getting lost in them, and the complex conversations they have ignited, as much as we have. I have included something for most ages and even if the words are advanced, each book I've listed can start a whole conversation just by looking at the pictures.
Let’s get started with the one must have book that should be the foundation of every childrens book collection:
It’s so important now more than ever for children to be aware of their human rights, not just their own rights but the rights of every single person born on this planet. Each Human Rights Act is illustrated by a different artist making it a book that’s great to read and also wonderful to look at. Knowledge is power and power can change the world.
The Journey is as beautiful as it is heart-breaking. The story of a family forced from their home due to war and violence and struggling to find peace in other lands. The Journey is simply written and easy to understand and while the book is aimed at 3-7 year olds the illustrations alone make for great conversion in younger children.
The Journey is endorsed by Amnesty International and comes with a nine page discussion print out that you can access online. This was created to engage children on a deeper level and to encourage them to think about each step of the family’s journey. The perfect book to begin engaging in difficult subjects and to begin to raise awareness in your littles.
Next on our list, one of my all-time favourite girls, the one and only, the unstoppable...Izzy Gizmo! Izzy gets angry and frustrated when her inventions don’t quite turn out according to her plan but her grandpa is there the whole way to tell her to never give up! If something is hard you must try and try again, and so she does with the encouragement of her Grandpa the impossible is made possible.
Her grandpa doesn’t tell her to smile, or to cheer up or to give up and try something else…he simply encourages her to keep going, working through her anger and frustration and using it to her advantage and that’s exactly what she does.
I know everyone is probably already aware of this amazing book at this point, most of us probably already have it and are enjoying it, some lucky ones amongst us may even have volume two! Taking all that into account this marvellous book more than deserves it’s place on this list.
I truly believe that this will be a book that inspires and motivates the next generation of girls to know that they can be and do anything they put their mind to. Representation changes lives and none more so than Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls.
With Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls 2 due to be available to the masses in February 2018 your bookshelves can only get more empowering and even more diverse!
We’ve all been there haven’t we? We’re out and about and our kid has pointed to something or someone and asked “what’s that?”
Teaching cultural sensitivity and respect isn’t always smooth sailing in little ones but nevertheless is very important so this book is a great place to start a conversation with them at home. You can answer any questions your kids may have about the way different people choose to dress and why it’s important to respect each other’s cultures and choices.
Hats of Faith is a board book for littles that is just as important for our big kids.
Ella Queen of Jazz is slowly becoming one of our all-time favourite bed time stories. Written and Illustrated by Helen Hancocks it tells the story of Ella’s rise to fame during a time segragation and overt racism and bigotry. The story of her persistence to overcome adversity as door after door was slammed in her face is truly amazing.
It’s also the story of a beautiful friendship and what it means to be a good ally. How we can use our influence or platform to raise the voices and talents of marginalised people.
We are all wonders is currently in cinemas as a feature length film but it started off as a really beautiful book. This book is vital for all children’s bookcases because not everyone is born looking the same. It teaches children that everyone is different, and to be understanding of each other’s differences.
Listen to Auggie tell you how hurt and sad it makes him feel when he hears people being cruel or laughing at him. Learn how important it is for us to be kind and empathetic. Follow Auggie as he learns to love himself exactly how he is, in all his imperfect glory, and how we can love ourselves too in all OUR imperfect glory! Thanks Auggie!
Next on my list is the unstoppable Rosie Revere Engineer, because you can NEVER have too many books about girls inventing, creating and making their imaginations come to life.
Rosie has to overcome her shyness and her embarrassment at being laughed at when her inventions go wrong and learn to believe in herself in order to do what she loves. She is inspired by her wonderfully adventurous great-aunt who gives her the spark she needs to conquer her fears. Rosie Revere Engineer is a great edition to your bookcase.
Little People, BIG DREAMS have a beautiful collection of books and I could spend the rest of this article writing about them ALL but since we don’t have the space or the word count I decided to choose my favourite: Rosa Parks:
Rosa Parks written by Lisbeth Kaiser and illustrated by Marta Antelo is her incredible story made accessible for children of all ages, be it looking at the beautiful illustrations and starting a conversation or delving right into reading her powerful and important life story.
Any book from this collection you choose will be the perfect addition to your children’s bookcase, but in the interests of keeping you bookcase diverse and truly intersectional and I had to choose just one, I would choose Rosa Parks.
We are now understanding the importance of teaching our children about the smart, industrious, trailblazing women who have made their mark on the world in male dominated areas. Science is one of these areas. Women in Science written and Illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky is a wonderful book celebrating 50 such women in Science.
This book aimed at 9-11 year olds covers science, mathematics, engineering and technology from the ancient to the modern worlds. A truly inspiring look at how women have been at the forefront of modern advancement at every step of the way.
So that's it! I could list more, I could write forever but i'll stop here. I hope to be lucky enough to read more amazing and inspiring books to my littles next year and I hope 2018 brings MORE representation, MORE diversity and MORE equality. In fact, I demand it! I'll do my part and for me part of it, at least, begins with more intersectional feminism in our home.
Happy New Year to YOU ALL! Thank you for reading and commenting and being bloody brilliant! BRING ON 2018!