Bedtime Inspirational Stories: 50 Amazing Black People Who Changed the World

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by L. A. Amber

Illustrated by T. Z. Nissen

So the wonderful Charnaie Gordon of Here Wee Read who has put together a really special group featuring bloggers who are all interested in promoting children’s books that feature diverse lead characters. Charnaie has then worked with publishers to distribute such books to these bloggers to review! I am so thrilled to be a part of this group and to be reviewing my first book today.

So I had seen ‘Bedtime Stories: 50 Amazing Black People Who Changed the World.’ on the Hee Wee Read instagram page and was so excited about it. I have seen all the books that are about now such as ‘Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls’ and I was really excited at the thought of similar format for children that focussed solely of the achievements of black people – I knew a book of that depth would include people who I also didn’t know about so it would be a great chance for me to be introduced to some new names. When there was the opportunity to receive a copy to review I jumped at the chance – thank you to the US publishers for shipping to London to me!!

The book is really focussed on the young reader or listener of the book being inspired by the life stories and achievements of each of the people and connecting those achievements and qualities to their own lives. The format of the book features a short biography of the person on one page with an illustration and inspiring quote on the other page. Each biography ends with questions to help the young listener or reader of the book reflect on what they have heard as well as a ‘Did you know…’ fact. It feels like the book is a great conversation starter for all the family – reading one story at a time and discussing what they have read together as well as no doubt following up with more research on people of particular interest to the child.


#50bpbedtimeinspirational #bedtimeinspirational #laamber #blackhistory


Fantastically Great Women who changed the world 

Text and illustrations by Kate Pankhurst

So I love this title!! As soon as I saw this book I snapped it up! I want my son to be inspired and in awe of the achievements of both men and women. I have to say I also learnt about Sacagawea for the first tim through this book!

I know he is currently  too small to get the depth of this book yet as I think it is for the older primary school aged child but I’ll keep it lurking on his bookshelf until the right moment!!

Grandma’s List

Written by Portia Dery and illustrated by Toby Newsom

And so I am back. I have not been able to keep up with the blog over the past few months due to massive work commitments as I have just gone freelance – yes i went freelance to have more time with my son but ended up working all hours…but I think, maybe, possibly…I’m finding a better rhythm now…

So I picked this beautiful book up from The Golden Baobab stall at the Chale Wote festival in Accra, Ghana this August. I love the illustrations of the book and I think these are some of my favourite drawings so far. The colours on each page evoke the landscape that I saw whilst in Accra and also the beautiful strong clean lines of the work really celebrate the lifestyle of the characters in the book as well as supporting the narrative. And this tale is about a little girl who wants to prove she is a big girl by helping her Grandma do the errands. However, she loses the list of instructions and decides to complete the errands from memory…

African Musical Instruments

Natalie Cooper

So you just never know who you work with!! Working on this blog has connected me to so many interesting people! The first to mention is Natalie Cooper @thejewelledcrown who sent an email around our place of work saying that she has a book of African patterns that you can colour in – adults or children. I emailed back straight away and asked to meet her for a coffee!! And discovered this wonderful young woman who is a graphic designer, illustrator and facilitator of creative projects with young people. She has designed, written and published a book for children which features detailed information on the range of musical instruments that exist across Africa. ‘African Musical Instruments’ is a wonderful book starting with a map of Africa and the different countries that exist there and moving on to images of each of the instruments accompanied but a range of information about that instrument…so much specific and beautiful information presented in a really clear and friendly manner. Great for young primary school children upwards. Natalie spoke about how she uses the book as the basis of a range of workshops she delivers with young people exploring the origins and uses of these instruments.

 And then she kept going and created a colouring in book that features African textile patterns that you colour in yourself a wonderful resource as we all know how rich and exciting these patterns are. Now I have not got into this whole mindfulness/colouring in movement (too busy!!..yes I know that’s the point!) but i see that for anyone who is interested in this it would be a lovely addition to their collection as its suitable for adults as well as children! And may get me started (after a trip to Tiger to pick up supplies!
Check our her work at where you can buy the books as well as musical instruments which Natalie has sourced directly from crafts people in countries across Africa.

Interview by Megaphone

So as I mentioned way back in my posts I went to the London Book Fair and the highlight of my time there was a panel discussion by Megaphone Writes– an writer development scheme set up by Leila Rasheed to support diverse writers in writing their first book for children. The event saw the authors reading extracts of their work and was packed with loads of people from the publishing industry wanting to hear the work and meet new writers. After a quick chat with Leila at the event we have kept in touch and she has published an interview with me on her site.  I have reposted the interview below for your or you can read it on her site here

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Kwame’s bookshelf is a lovely book review blog, run by Erica Campayne. In focusing on reviewing children’s books with black and/or disabled main characters, it shines a spotlight on books which are often overlooked by mainstream reviewers, but which are absolutely essential so that every child can see themselves mirrored positively.

At a recent event focusing on inclusivity in children’s literature (the Inclusive Minds conference), delegates were asked to think about the reasons publishers don’t publish more picture books with BAME and disabled main characters. I was surprised to hear ‘They don’t sell internationally’ frequently coming up as a reason. The argument being that picture books have to sell into multiple territories to break even, and that BAME and disabled/differently abled main characters don’t appeal to those territories. Now, while I understand that publishers have to turn a profit, I don’t agree that the value of books can ever be calculated purely in money. For this reason, when Erica came up to me at the London Book Fair event, I instantly thought that I’d love to feature her blog on the Megaphone website. I interviewed her about the blog she started:


LR: How did Kwame’s Bookshelf come about – can you say something about the inspiration behind it, please?

EC: As an adult I was already conscious of buying books by authors from a range of ethnicities, so I took that sensibility with me when shopping for my child. I realised quite quickly that I had even less choice for books than in the adult sections. And I knew that I would be sharing these special moments reading to my new child and presenting ideas to him about the world – I didn’t want one of those ideas to be that he was unusual by showing him books that didn’t feature him. I wanted him to see himself as wonderful and vital and a connected part of the world around him. We also have disabled family members and I wanted to have that included in books as a way of my son and I exploring these ideas. I wanted to include books on his bookshelf that reflected our loves alongside all the other books. I wanted him to have a bookshelf filled with books that showed a range of ethnicities and stories. So I started Googling but wasn’t coming up with many options, and I also started asking family and friends to suggest books, most of which were by African American authors – which is fine, but I realised there was a real lack of books about British kids of a range of cultures. At about the same time I listened to a podcast which stated that an entrepreneur is someone who presents a solution to a problem (and of course monetises it). I don’t think I’m an entrepreneur but I realised that this was the problem I had – finding books that featured lead characters (not just a brown face in a crowd scene) that were from a range of ethnicities and also featured disabled characters. I couldn’t find a list like this when I Googled so I thought I should therefore make one. As Maya Angelou says, if you can’t find the story you want to read, you need to write it. I’m not a writer but I am a connector. So I thought I’d connect the writers of these books with people like me who want to read and purchase them.

LR: Do you feel that it is important to children to see themselves in fiction, and if so, why?

EC: It’s so important. In every culture the stories that are contained in books are used to teach children facts but also

societal values, such as to share, to love their family, to overcome fears and dangers…so black, asian, turkish, and children with disabilities should be part of this narrative. Not just for the benefit of children from those backgrounds but also to help other children empathise and realise that there are other experiences in the world or to connect and realise that they share similar experiences to other children, e.g. no one wants to go to bed and miss out on the fun!

LR: Did you feel reflected and represented in children’s books when you were growing up? If not, do you feel this absence was a problem?

EC: I know that my mum made a conscious point of buying me toys and dolls that featured black children, we had some sent from family in America and we read a wide range of books. I also attended Saturday school which is a supplementary school for black children where alongside maths and english you were taught black history. So there were lots of other inputs. But I decided to set up Kwame’s Bookshelf when I realised that I was still hunting for books with black lead protagonists in the same way that my mum was over 30 years ago!

LR: Do you feel seeing Black and disabled authors is also important to child readers?

EC: Yes – it’s important for all of us. We can’t continue to shape the world into one mould. In this connected world of the internet where children will encounter so many more perspectives on life, they need to know about that and navigate that. In the way that CBeebies successfully shows how you can offer depictions of all sorts of families, literature needs to catch up.

LR:If you could pass on just one message to publishers of children’s literature, what would that message be?

EC: Increase the richness of the books on offer. Nurture UK based writiers who want to create these books and be bold and confident that they will reach a large audience. Just like the fantastic Megaphone programme that you ran and which I got to hear extracts of the work that was created. The talent is there but more effort needs to be made to support it. This isn’t just an issue for families from diverse backgrounds, my white friends also want to buy books for their children that reflect the lives their children grow up in – especially in somewhere like London where I live. And with the way the world is growing so divisive let’s try and set a different tone for the children who will take over from us in the future.

LR: Thank you. What especially stands out to me from what you’ve said, is the fact of having to consciously look for picture books with black and disabled protagonists. In contrast, one doesn’t have to consciously look for books with white and able-bodied characters; they are easily and widely and immediately available in mainstream shops. Finding black and disabled characters in picture books is simply much harder work, and it shouldn’t be. Everyone deserves an equal place in literature.

@megaphonewrites on Twitter