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FAQs

Find answers, below, to the most frequently asked questions about Inclusive Books for Children.

What is IBC? 

Inclusive Books for Children (IBC) is a registered UK charity that launched in September 2023. Our vision is for inclusivity in children’s books to become the norm. We aspire to a world in which a sample of children’s books from any place — a home bookshelf, a class reading corner, a bookshop selection or a library collection — reflects the diversity of our society.

What does IBC do?

We provide a free website that makes it easy for parents, librarians and teachers to source expertly reviewed, high-quality books for children that reflect the diverse world in which they live.

To achieve this, our review team reads hundreds of inclusive books each month to recommend the very best of what’s out there, from brilliant baby and toddler books through to more challenging children’s novels.

In a nutshell, we’ve created a vast, easy-to-navigate, virtual bookcase just for you, showcasing inclusive books for different ages, developmental stages and reader tastes.

Alongside this work, we offer grants to organisations also working to improve inclusivity in children’s books. We have a strong focus on initiatives that nurture talented creatives from under-represented groups. We are also involved in several inclusive book gifting projects. You can read more about our impact here

What is an inclusive children’s book?

‘Inclusivity’ means different things to different people, but the following captures what we believe makes an inclusive book collection:

  • Books featuring main characters, a diverse cast or real people from marginalised groups, ie, different ethnicities, cultures, disabilities, family structures, class or socioeconomic backgrounds, and representation of LGBTQIA+ identities and neurodivergence
  • Books that do not include negative or harmful stereotypes, including gender stereotypes
  • Books that offer a broad vision of British culture, through authentic language choices and illustrations
  • Books that tell stories about people whose perspectives have historically been excluded from literature
  • Books by Own-Voice authors and illustrators who share the same cultural, ethnic or other identities as the characters they create
  • Books by under-represented authors and illustrators who also create children’s books that are not Own Voice. For these creatives, we may make rare exceptions to feature their books with animal main characters, for example.

Hardly ever can a single book capture all the elements above but an inclusive collection of books easily can.

At IBC, we specialise in ’incidental’, inclusive representation, seeking out engrossing and enjoyable family or class reads that do not explicitly or wholly focus on the marginalised aspects of characters’ identities.

So, for example, we wouldn’t usually feature stories that directly tackle colourism, homophobia or racism, because we want to promote a love of reading while normalising, not othering, all different identities. However, we do reserve the right to make exceptions if we consider a book to be exceptionally valuable. 

Why is IBC needed? 

It’s true. Children’s books published today seem more inclusive than ever before, with illustrations of characters of colour on front covers and diverse crowd scenes on inside pages. However, dig deeper and the reality is very different, which is where we come in:

  • The proportion of main characters from marginalised groups seriously lags behind the proportion of primary school aged children from these same groups. Characters from marginalised groups are still, often, relegated to sidekicks or melting into the background. This is why we offer our unique ‘Main Character Only' toggle — so all children can find books with lead characters they can relate to.
  • Sometimes, even well-intentioned representation can hit a wrong note. Stereotypes, othering perspectives and inauthentic depictions can creep in. This is why we ask expert reviewers with relevant lived experience to check every book carefully before we list it.
  • We question the validity of books featuring marginalised characters if there has been no Own-Voice input during the publishing process. Our website’s ‘Own-Voice' filter ensures you can find books from publishers who promote diversity and inclusion and authentic representation.
  • We shine a light on those little-known or forgotten gems: inclusive books past and present you don’t know about, because they don’t get the publicity they deserve.

By bringing all this together in one place, we can create a mainstream browsing experience for you, with a real depth and breadth of choice.

What about ‘neutral’ stories?

It’s so easy to sidestep inclusive books for more readily available ’neutral’ books; for example, stories about non-human characters. Indeed, the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education’s (CLPE) 2022 Reflecting Realities report found that twice as many books published in 2021 starred animal or non-human characters than ethnic-minority main characters.

But, imagine how a child from a marginalised group might feel browsing for their next read and seeing more talking pencils and tigers than characters who look like them. What messages might they internalise about themselves or their sense of belonging?

Do inclusive books exclude certain groups?

We don’t think any group should be excluded — we merely seek to achieve balance, ie, any given book collection should offer rounded, diverse representation of all groups including traditionally over-represented groups.

We don’t showcase books featuring characters from currently over-represented groups because they already dominate bookshelves, imaginations and marketing budgets. These books are already easy to find and buy, and there are so many that our resources could never stretch to reviewing them all, too. 

How do I choose the right book for my child? 

Our unique search and filter functions allow you to home in on the perfect book for your child or class. 

First, we offer an age filter, as we know parents and caregivers, in particular, find reading-age guidelines helpful when choosing children’s books.

However, we also understand that young children develop reading fluency and comprehension at different rates, and may also differ in emotional maturity and general readiness for certain texts or subject matters. Older children may also sometimes enjoy, or feel a need to read, ‘younger’ books.

With this in mind, we’ve taken an open-ended approach to our reading-age guidelines. Each book on our website is labelled according to the lowest suitable reading age, for example, ‘5+’ years, with the ‘+’ indicating that older children may well enjoy a book too. 

Additionally, our representation filters allow you to select a specific type of representation, for example, books featuring Black characters. You can use each of these filters in combination with our unique ’Main Character Only’ toggle. Selecting more than one filter at a time returns books with intersectional representation.

Please note: on the rare occasion that your search doesn’t return any results, this does not mean your book choices are unimportant to us. It just means we haven’t yet found suitable books that meet our standards for that particular form of representation.

Finally, searching for books using our ’Top Picks Only’ toggle allows you to focus on our reviewers’ absolute favourites. 

When will books for children aged 9+ be available on the IBC website?

We are not planning to add children’s fiction for ages 9 to 12 (middle-grade novels) to our website at this stage, but there are still plenty of books on our website that older children will enjoy.

Who reviews the books at IBC?

Our top team of book reviewers consists of experts with varied backgrounds from relevant professional fields, including education, library services and children’s publishing. Having a diverse reviewing team ensures that, as far as possible, a broad range of perspectives are represented in our book reviews and curated booklists

The team reviews countless books each month, from backlist to newly published titles, handpicking the best inclusive books so you don’t have to spend ages scouring the internet. Their book reviews are rigorous and unbiased — decisions about which books to include or exclude are not influenced, in any way, by commercial factors.

Check out our IBC review team to learn more about our experienced reviewers. 

How are books selected for review?

We established our foundational offering of around 800 books through a partnership with CLPE. Now, we liaise directly with publishers to review all new publications that meet our criteria.

Sometimes we receive one-off recommendations from other sources; for example, members of our review team who each have a finger on the pulse of children’s literature. 

Can’t find the books you want? 

We offer an extensive and diverse range of inclusive books on our website but if, for any reason, you cannot find what you need, here are some other great resources you could try.

Want to support us?

Our website is completely free for you to enjoy. That said, we are a registered charity, and fund-raising is, of course, essential to cover our running costs and secure our future work. 

You can help by making purchases through our affiliate links to third-party book retailers. We currently offer links for the following online bookstores:

  • Bookshop.org: Bookshop.org offers us a 10% commission, and allocates a further 10% to a fund shared amongst registered independent booksellers. Their prices are competitive, and they offer free delivery over £40. 
  • LoveReading4Kids.com: LR4K offers us a 5% commission, and credits the school of your choice with a massive 25% to spend on more books. They offer a 10% discount off the recommended retail price (RRP) and free delivery over £40. Please get in touch with us if you are from a school that is interested in participating in our Diversification Drive collaboration with LR4K.  

What are the IBC Awards?

The Inclusive Books for Children Awards celebrate the very best inclusive books published each year in the UK.

We award £10,000 to the author and illustrator of the winning book in each of three age categories.

Our aim is to break inclusivity out of a niche, with a grand prize that everyone will want to win! Click here to read more about last year’s awards.