BookLove: the multicultural travelling book carnival

BookLove: the multicultural travelling book carnival

The annual Reflecting Realities report by CLPE shows just how underrepresented black, Asian and minority ethnic protagonists are in children’s books. A mere 7% of the children’s books published in the UK over the last three years feature characters of colour. Compare this with the UK primary school population, where 33.5% of children are from a minority ethnic background.

We try to redress the balance with the books that pupils study in our book clubs. We actively support other organisations trying to make a difference; we’re a founding member of Inclusion Labs’ Decade of Diversity pledge striving for 25% diverse literature in schools by 2030. We are also huge fans of BookLove. 

BookLove is a multicultural travelling book carnival and online shop. What a beautiful and apt description for what they do: taking multicultural and bilingual books into schools, universities, markets, parks, offices, festivals  – and anywhere else you can think of! Founded in 2015 by Samantha Williams, the idea came to her ten years previously following the death of her mother, who was from Barbados. 

“I felt I’d lost my anchor to many aspects of life, including part of my heritage,” she explains. “After I had my children, that feeling intensified; I was bereft on their behalf as they had lost their only black grandparent.” 

Samantha wanted to read books to her children that featured a black grandmother. But she could not find any. When a little boy at a children’s club saw her afro hair and shouted ‘bushy hair’, Samantha felt compelled to do something. With the club’s support, she returned with books by writers from ethnically diverse backgrounds. She wanted to help the children understand and value diversity. And BookLove was born.

Before a primary school visit, Samantha finds out the ethnic backgrounds of the children in the school. An eye-catching stall is then stacked with books reflecting pupils’ cultural heritage or in dual languages. These stories often feature inspirational figures such as Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks, Malala and the Williams sisters. Festooned with flags and childrens’ self-portraits, each stall is a multicultural celebration – and parents are invited to visit too.

A recent project has seen BookLove partner with SEI, a global provider of financial services, to deliver hundreds of multicultural books to twenty schools in Tower Hamlets. BookLove curated the list of books for the Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 pupils, ensuring that the authors, characters, and stories represent the ethnic and religious diversity of the local community. The books selected by BookLove include Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet by Zanib Mian, Indian Tales by Shenaaz Nanji and Christopher Corr, Children of the Benin Kingdom by Dinah Orji, and Pakistan for Women by Maliha Abidi.

Find out more about BookLove on their website:

If you’re interested in working with BookLove to increase representation in the books at your local school, you can email them at

Photo credit: BookLove Instagram

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