World Book Day here, and we’ve listed some of Team TBB’s childhood favourite books and recommendations.

For young children, Kojo Kamara recommends a classic Roald Dahl book…

I fell in love with Roald Dahl, and the book ‘The Witches’, when I first read it accompanied by the audio cassette. It didn’t disappoint, but totally messed up my Chi though (whatever “chi” was to a Ten-year-old). The only time I’ve ever felt that terrified, was when I first read The Book of Revelations, in the Bible.

It spun my noodle so much that after I finished the book. I once convinced myself, that the women sitting opposite me on the London underground, was indeed “The Grand High Witch“. And according to Luke Eveshims ‘Grandmamma’, she had all the tell-tale signs. An extremely long nose, flickering green eyes and wore a wig. The only thing I couldn’t work out was if she had “Square end feet”. (Those were the key things you had to look for). The Movie is great too!

Thanks for the memories Roald
Happy World Book Day!

Find more The Witches and more Roald Dahl books here.

For our pre-teens Jo Hamya recommends Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica love

What’s so rare about ‘Julian is a Mermaid’ isn’t that it’s about a little boy of colour who experiments with cross-dressing. It’s not even that he finds total acceptance for this from his Abuela, and the mermaids he’s inspired by. It’s the attention every aspect of Love’s book gives to the relationship between image, language and identity, a notion which is given unbelievable nuance and justice in a children’s book.

Everything about it is fluid, from the joyous watercolours of drag queens to Julian’s identification of them as magical: as mermaids, floating through the city. It’s a revolutionary book- not because it boldly and loudly breaks cultural taboos on what we tell our children about identity (gendered, racial or sexual), but because it treats these topics as ordinary concepts which become beautiful upon encounter. If anything, adults could stand to learn from it, too.

Get your copy of Julian is a Mermaid here.

I was always pleased around Edith and her sisters. They all thought I was pretty, all except Ellen, the baby, and she thought I was “beautiful”.

The Friends by Rosa Guy

For our Young Adults, TBB’s resident bookworm Priscilla Owusu recommends seventies classic, ‘The Friends’ by Rosa Guy…

The Friends by Rosa Guy
An oldie but a classic, The Friends is the first in a trilogy of YA novels by Rosa Guy. It’s the story of an unlikely friendship between two teenaged girls: Phyllisia Cathay, newly transplanted from the West Indies to New York, and Edith Jackson, an impoverished and irreverent street-smart youngster who offers her friendship and protection to Phyllisia, who is bullied unmercifully by her classmates, who don’t like her accent or her haughty ways.

This was probably one of the first books I read with a mainly Black cast of characters and was most likely my gateway book into Black Literature. Pretty much all, Rosa Guy’s deal with issues around family and friendships, loss, love and relationships, in particular same-sex relationships – which was pretty controversial at the time it was written in the late 70s. A timeless classic, which I cannot recommend enough.

See more Rosa Guy books here.

Editor’s favourite… I read from quite an early age, so I started reading books beyond my years before I should have, so trying to find age appropriate for this post is quite difficult, but here are a few of the books which most resonated with me as a young girl,Edith Jackson by Rosa Guy, The Soul Brothers and Sister Lou by Kristin Hunter, It by Stephen King, and Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor. All these books fed my soul and inspired the budding writer in me. The way the stories painted the vivid pictures in my mind, and how the words resonated with my soul.

With life taking over and time being a myth it’s regretful that I don’t get to read as much as I did when younger. However, a recent trip to New York allowed for some much needed me time which equalled reading time. My two contemporary YA book recommendations also approved by my YA daughter are Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi (also reccomended by TBB’s Adele Oni) and Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor … these two books are groundbreaking in their use of West African folklore in a way that gives black children their own fantasy world to escape. With recognisable characters and dialogue. Written by young African women writers these two books and their follow-ups make me excited for the next generation of black writers writing for black children who are waiting for their own Harry Potter or Hunger Games.

New Beacon Books is THE go-to place for Black books for children, YA’s and grown-ups. Get your copy of Children of Blood and Bone, and Akata Witch from them, they also order books in. Find out more here.