Letterbox Library – Children’s book publishers celebrating equality and diversity

Letterbox Library logo

This article was originally published in the 2015 Autumn edition of Humanitie magazine.

Letterbox Library is a not-for-profit social enterprise and co-operative that celebrates equality and diversity and believes challenging stereotypes and discrimination should play a fundamental part in every child’s education.

Letterbox Library began in 1983 from a front room in Hackney, by two single mothers frustrated by the lack of exciting roles for young girls and representation of real family lives and diversity. A book club was set up and over the years Letterbox Library has grown, developed and flourished.

They have a wide catalogue of books for a range of ages which includes many under-represented groups and topics such as gender equality, fostering, mixed raced families, LGBTI, disability, caring for the environment, bereavement, bullying, refugees and black history.

Here we take a look at some of the books Letterbox Library have on offer:

 

Snowflakes – by Cerrie Burnell

Snowflakes

A mixed race child moves to the countryside to become a new family with her grandmother. Initially feeling confused, and alienated from the other school children, she soon becomes integrated into her new environment and forms new friendships, whilst realising the true value of being unique, just like every ‘snowflake’.

Enchanting snowy and comforting illustrations, which might provide further reassurance to those feeling marginalised or coping with new transitions.

By CBeebies presenter and author Cerrie Burnell

Direct link.

 

 

10 things I can do to help my world – by Melanie Walsh

Letterbox Library

 

A highly tactile book with bold images and colour palette.

It incorporates an ingenious use of cut-outs to encourage interaction and present environment-conscious information such as recycling, conserving resources and planting, in an original and engaging way.

 

Direct link.

 

 

 

And Tango Makes Three – by  Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

Letterbox Library - And Tango Makes Three

 

A book which is based on the true story of Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo. The book effortlessly represents their same-sex relationship and fostered family situation.

It is a gentle, reassuring read, with a happy ending and accompanied by serene water-colour illustrations. Suitable for pre-schoolers.

Direct Link.

 

Ever Clever Eva – by Andrew Fusek Peters

Letterbox Library - Ever Clever Eva by Andrew Fusek Peters

 

Based on a Czech yarn, this is a lightly amusing romp featuring a riddle-solving girl who manages to elevate herself from the status of cleaning maid to becoming the town judge.

It’s an easy read enhanced by quirky black and white illustrations, somewhat reminiscent of Quentin Blake. Though it may refer to the main character’s beauty a few times, the whole narrative focuses on her quick-wit, intelligence and compassion.

Direct Link.

 

 

 

The Lost Stars – by Hannah Cumming

Letterbox Library - The Lost Stars - by Hannah Cumming

 

A simple tale revealed by excellent illustrations that children can enjoy exploring for hours -whether poring over the intricately detailed minutae depicting hectic citylife, or the contrasting large and dreamlike imagery of the ‘star people’.

The underlying message is a caution to the reader, to be wary of the modern world distracting us from wonders of the natural world- in this case, the ‘lost stars’. The stars in the story decide to go on holiday after feeling neglected by the busy humans down below, until a group of children notice their absence and decide to go in search of them.

Direct Link.

 

Azzi In Between – by Sarah Garland

Azzi In Between - by Sarah Garland - Letterbox Library

 

An account of a refugee child being forced to flee with her family to a western country, leaving behind her home and grandmother. The author derived the character from multiple sources including a Jewish girl in a memoir, a child in a New Zealand school and a photograph of a Kurdish refuge in a newspaper.

Realistic characterisation and attention to detail lend the story further tangibility, including cultural references and difficulties faced by refugees; such as learning a new language and seeking employment. It admirably manages to avoid dumbing down the trauma of a refugee evacuation, whilst still being suitable for a young readership. A great example of effective storytelling at it’s finest, through the medium of a graphic novel.

 

Winner of numerous awards including the first Little Rebels Book Award in 2013, IBBY Honour Book and endorsed by Amnesty International. Extremely immersive and thoughtfully realised, it is an essential read. Suitable for a wide range of ages. Highly recommended.

Direct Link. 


Free membership for HSS members:

Letterbox Library have been kind enough to offer a discount to Humanist Society Scotland members.

When ordering from Letterbox Library enter the code ‘SHSFree’ in response to the question “How did you hear about/find us?” and a minimum of 10% will be discounted when your order is processed.

Please support the work of Letterbox Library and purchase directly from them so they can continue to source and publish works from independent writers who strive to represent children and families from marginalised groups.

 

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