Big Issue Vendor

Top 5 kid’s picture books with black people in them

Atinuke shares her top five picture books with black people in them and tells us how were received by her own children
Atinuke shares her top 5 black picture books. Image credit: WokinghamLibraries / Pixabay

Children’s author Atinuke fell in love with stories long before falling in love with storytelling.

Born in Nigeria, her father was a lecturer and her mother was an editor. She adored Enid Blyton as a kid and knows how important books can be to a child’s development.

She is the author of the bestselling Anna Hibiscus series, which details the fun adventures of an African child living with her family and having lots of fun.

But black authors are still underrepresented in UK publishing. According to October 2020 research from Sheffield Hallam University, 94 per cent of children’s authors are white.

Here, Atinuke shares her top five picture books with black people in them and tells us how were received by her own children.

Lockdowns have taken income away from hundreds of Big Issue sellers. Support The Big Issue and our vendors by signing up for a subscription.


So Much by Trish Cooke, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury

This was a favourite when my boys were small. Each member of the family comes and does something fun with baby – something that the reader can do too. It gives a lovely sense of the powerful love some extended black families enjoy.


Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love

This is such a gorgeous book – gentle, loving and groundbreaking! It’s so inspiring to have illustrations of the real shapes of women, and to see the relationship between the boy and

his grandmother. The page with the grandmother in swimming class is my favourite!


A Story About Afiya by James Berry, illustrated by Anna Cunha

The illustrations in this book are just stunning. I keep staring at them – I can’t put it down. Every little black girl should have this book so she can see how beautiful she is.


Coming to England by Floella Benjamin, illustrated by Diane Ewen

This book is so vibrant, the story so moving and relevant to our history, and the pictures so rich and full of life. It is a true piece of British history.


Amazing Muslims Who Changed the World  by Burhana Islam, illustrated by Nabi H Ali, Reya Ahmed, Saffa Khan, Aaliya Jaleel, Deema Alawa and Aghnia Mardiyah

This is jam-packed with Muslim people from all eras in history whose discoveries, courage and creativity have made the world a better place! It was written by a teacher at the request of her class.

Too Small Tola and the Three Fine Girls by Atinuke, illustrated by Onyinye Iwu, is out now (Walker Books, £6.99)