The best books with stories about the Black child in Britain: family, friendship, and overcoming challenges

Who am I?

Ghanaian-born, I came to Britain aged twelve with my family and was always a lover of stories.  Now a PhD-educated mum of three, it niggled that there weren’t many novels with a Black child as the protagonist, especially a Black British one. As a creative who’d acted and performed poetry in the past, I set out to write a story about a Black child in Britain overcoming challenges.  Inspired by anecdotes of children remaining with relatives in their home country as their parents moved to Britain to make a life before sending for them, I was interested in writing a story about such a child after they arrived in Britain.


I wrote...

Looking Up

By Abena Eyeson,

Book cover of Looking Up

What is my book about?

Thirteen-year-old Esi is reluctantly on her way to London, England. After many happy years living with her grandma in Ghana, she is joining Maggie, the mother she hasn’t lived with since the age of six. Her move to London, not only forces Esi to deal with challenges she’s never faced before, but it brings up lots of questions about Solomon, her absent father, and Maggie—the answers to which in the end change her life. 

With themes of empathy, friendship, and family, Looking Up is a compelling story about leaving the security of home and starting again without the ones who made us feel loved.   

The books I picked & why

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Happy Here

By Sharna Jackson,

Book cover of Happy Here

Why this book?

What I love about Happy Here is the positivity of the stories contained in the anthology. Although the stories are written by 10 different Black British authors in their own way, the stories all center around Black children learning something about themselves, growing in confidence, and overcoming the challenges they face. The range of writers from Alexandra Sheppard to Patrice Lawrence allows the reader to experience different styles of Black British storytelling. Happy Here is really worth checking out.

Happy Here

By Sharna Jackson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Happy Here as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With an introduction from bestselling author Sharna Jackson, HAPPY HERE features stories and poems by 10 Black British authors for readers aged 7+. Exploring themes of joy, home and family through a wide range of genres and styles, each author has been paired with a different illustrator to spotlight Black British artistic talent.

With stories by Dean Atta, Joseph Coelho, Kereen Getten, Patrice Lawrence, Theresa Lola, E.L. Norry, Jasmine Richards, Alexandra Sheppard, Yomi Sode, and Clare Weze.


Jaz Santos vs. the World

By Priscilla Mante,

Book cover of Jaz Santos vs. the World

Why this book?

I love this empowering story about Jaz, a sensitive, caring Black British girl who sets up a girls’ football team to prove to her mum that she is a star so that her mum will return home. As a reader, I found myself rooting for Jaz as she got into trouble (unfairly) and faced challenge after challenge. Priscilla, the writer, deals sensitively with issues of anxiety, fear, and rejection. Though girls football features heavily in the book, you don’t have to be into football to enjoy the book—I know next to nothing about it. A heart-warming and uplifting read.

Jaz Santos vs. the World

By Priscilla Mante,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jaz Santos vs. the World as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SHORTLISTED FOR THE CHILDREN'S SPORTS BOOK OF THE YEAR 2022

The first book in THE DREAM TEAM series.

'Exciting, original and heart-warming' - Jacqueline Wilson

'Priscilla Mante is an author to watch' - Aisha Bushby

---

A relatable, inclusive story about families, unlikely friendships and girl power. Perfect for fans of Ella on the Outside and Jacqueline Wilson.

Ola! I'm Jasmina Santos-Campbell (but you can call me Jaz). You've probably heard of me and my football team the Bramrock Stars before. No? Well, you will soon because we're almost famous!

Forming the Stars was my genius idea - you see…


Windrush Child

By Benjamin Zephaniah,

Book cover of Windrush Child

Why this book?

This novel is the story of Leonard. The book starts with a focus on Jamaica but most of the story is about life after Leonard arrives in the UK with his mother to join his estranged father, who left Jamaica when Leonard was a baby. I found this to be a thought-provoking but easy-to-read historical novel about leaving the home you know where you feel loved and starting again somewhere that doesn’t feel so warm and welcoming. The story is about family, the Windrush generation and the history of Jamaica and Great Britain. An interesting read drizzled with Benjamin Zephaniah’s poetry.

Windrush Child

By Benjamin Zephaniah,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Windrush Child as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this heart-stopping adventure, Benjamin Zephaniah
shows us what it was like to be a child of the Windrush generation.

Leonard is shocked when he
arrives with his mother in the port of Southampton. His father is
a stranger to him, it's cold and even the Jamaican
food doesn't taste the same as it did back home in Maroon
Town. But his parents have brought him here to try to make
a better life, so Leonard does his best not to complain,
to make new friends, to do well at school - even
when people hurt him with their words…


Baller Boys

By Venessa Taylor,

Book cover of Baller Boys

Why this book?

This is a novel about two Black British boys, eight-year-old Frankie and Shay, who are football-mad best friends, excited to be taking part in the football trials for All Cultures United, the best football team for miles, in the summer holidays. What I love about this novel is its depiction of loving family life; the realistic, believable portrayal of the boys by the writer; the exuberant love the boys have for football and seeing them go for their dreams. You don’t have to be into football to enjoy the book. A fun read.

Baller Boys

By Venessa Taylor,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Baller Boys as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Shay and Frankie are best friends and football crazy! They eat, sleep and breathe football (even when they're at school!). They dream about playing football, love a kick-about in the park, watch all the big games on TV... all that's missing in their lives is the chance to play for a real football team.

All Cultures United is the best club around for miles and all the footie fans want to on their team... including Shay and Frankie. Are they good enough to impress Coach Reece at the AC United trials? Can their friendship survive the competitiveness of football? Will…


The Humiliations of Welton Blake

By Alex Wheatle,

Book cover of The Humiliations of Welton Blake

Why this book?

This is the story of Black British teen Whelton Blake on the worst day ever when everything seems to be going wrong. I adored this first-person narrative where the author Alex Wheatle skillfully explores first love, teenage awkwardness, problems at school, and figuring out your way in the world as a young teen. Humorous and engaging.

The Humiliations of Welton Blake

By Alex Wheatle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Humiliations of Welton Blake as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Welton Blake has done it! He's asked out Carmella McKenzie - the best-looking girl in school - and she's only gone and said yes!

But just as he thinks his luck is starting to change, Welton's phone breaks, kick-starting a series of unfortunate and humiliating events. With bullies to avoid, girls ready to knock him out and all the drama with his mum and dad, life for Welton is about to go very, very wrong ...

Hilarity follows disaster in this sharp-witted tale of the trials of teen life from award-winning author Alex Wheatle.


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