To celebrate Windrush Day 2021 we have compiled a list of some of our favourite books by authors of Caribbean descent who have written stories and poems set in the UK, in the Caribbean and about their experience of coming to the UK.

 

Windrush Day honours the British Caribbean community, and the half a million people who travelled to the UK after the Second World War. You can find more information about it and events that are happening here.

 

Picture Books
 

Coming to England by Floella Benjamin & Diane Ewen (Pan Macmillan)

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A picture book edition of Coming to England, the inspiring true story of Baroness Floella Benjamin: from Trinidad, to London as part of the Windrush generation, to the House of Lords. Follow ten-year-old Floella as she and her family set sail from the Caribbean to a new life in London. Alone on a huge ship for two weeks, then tumbled into a cold and unfriendly London, coming to England wasn't at all what Floella had expected

What will her new school be like? Will she meet the Queen? Filled with optimism and joy, yet deeply personal and relevant, young children will resonate with Floella's experiences of moving home and making friends.

Alongside vibrant illustrations by Diane Ewen, this powerful story shows little people how courage and determination can always overcome adversity.

Fruits by Valerie Bloom & David Axtell (Pan Macmillan)

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How much fruit do you think one small girl can manage to eat in one day? In the case of the narrator of this counting poem, the answer is a lot! Count from one to ten and learn the names of some Caribbean fruits, and find out what happens after eating a cocktail of mangoes, bananas and more. Valerie Bloom's Fruits is a Caribbean counting poem full of sumptuous illustrations by David Axtell, the creator of We're Going on a Lion Hunt. The rhyming text will help children learn to count whilst exploring the many fruits of the Caribbean.
 

Clean Up! by Nathan Bryon & Dapo Adeola (Penguin)

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Join lovable, passionate Rocket as she sets off on a mission to save a Caribbean island from plastic pollution! When Rocket goes for a holiday to visit her grandparents, she's shocked by the pollution that is spoiling their island home and putting the local sea life at risk. Can she think of a way to save the day? This is a heartwarming, timely and empowering picture book, showing how we ALL can make a difference.
 

 

My Two Grannies by Floella Benjamin & Margaret Chamberlain (Frances Lincoln)

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Alvina has two grannies who she loves with all her heart. Grannie Vero is from the Caribbean island of Trinidad. Grannie Rose is from the north of England.

When Alvina's parents go away on holiday, both the grannies move in to Alvina's house to look after her. But the two grannies want to do different things, eat different food, play different games and tell different stories. The grannies get crosser and crosser with each other, but Alvina thinks of a way they can do all the things their own way so the grannies can become the best of friends.
 

Books Make Good Pets by John Agard & Momoko Abe (Hachette)

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Books make good pets and don't need going to the vet. You don't have to keep them on a lead or throw them a stick. They'll wag their words whenever you flick their dog-eared pages.

Even howl an ancient tale for the inward-listening ear. Did you know that a book can take you anywhere? You only need to turn the pages of a story, and in a moment, you and your book could be crossing the waves in a pirate ship... or diving with mermaids... or even snoozing with a dragon.

Books really DO make good pets! Why don't you peep inside this one, and take your mind on an adventure?

 

Younger Readers
 

Granny Ting Ting by Patrice Lawrence & David Dean (Bloomsbury)

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A quirky family comedy set in the Caribbean from prize-winning author Patrice Lawrence. Shayla can't wait to see her cousin Michael again. Last time, they had great fun chasing Granny's chickens and playing hide-and-seek in the bamboo by the river.

But Michael thinks everything in London is better than in Trinidad where Shayla lives, which makes him better than her, doesn't it? Soon everything's a competition, especially when there's hot pepper sauce involved! This humorous story featuring characters from Trinidad by Patrice Lawrence, the winner of the Waterstones Children's Book Prize 2017 for Older Fiction, has fun black-and-white illustrations by David Dean and is perfect for children who are developing as readers. 

 

Shona, Word Detective by John Agard & Michael Broad (Barrington Stoke)

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Shona has always loved words. She even has her very own strange word thesaurus! When her and her classmates learn that some languages are dying out, Miss Bates tasks them with becoming top-class word detectives, proving to themselves and their families that there are many beautiful languages still thriving, even within their own classroom.

 

 

 

Older Readers
 

Freedom by Catherine Johnson (Scholastic)

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An action-packed and pacey story about a boy’s experience of slavery in Britain.

Nathaniel doesn’t want to move to England with his master’s family, leaving behind his mother and sister on the Jamaican plantation. But then he remembers what his mother told him: once a slave sets foot on English soil, they’re free. Perhaps he can earn his fortune and buy his family’s freedom, too.





 

Windrush Child by Benjamin Zephaniah (Scholastic)

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In this heart-stopping adventure, Benjamin Zephaniah shows us what it was like to be a child of the Windrush generation. Leonard is shocked when he arrives with his mother in the port of Southampton. His father is a stranger to him, it's cold and even the Jamaican food doesn't taste the same as it did back home in Maroon Town.

But his parents have brought him here to try to make a better life, so Leonard does his best not to complain, to make new friends, to do well at school - even when people hurt him with their words and with their fists. How can a boy so far from home learn to enjoy his new life when so many things count against him?


 

When Life Gives You Mangoes by Kereen Getten (Pushkin)

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Nothing much happens in Sycamore, the small village where Clara lives - at least, that's how it looks. She loves eating ripe mangoes fallen from trees, running outside in the rainy season and escaping to her secret hideout with her best friend Gaynah. There's only one problem - she can't remember anything that happened last summer.

When a quirky girl called Rudy arrives from England, everything starts to change. Gaynah stops acting like a best friend, while Rudy and Clara roam across the island and uncover an old family secret. As the summer reaches its peak and the island storms begin, Clara's memory starts to return and she must finally face the truth of what happened last year.
 

 

Queen of Freedom: Defending Jamaica by Catherine Johnson (Pushkin)

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1720. Blue Mountains, windward Jamaica. In the sweltering heat Captain Shettlewood leads a troop of British soldiers through the thick trees towards the river.

They are hunting slaves who have escaped from the brutal plantations. Their mission: to find them, and kill them. But up ahead, hidden among the rocks above the water, a group of men with cutlasses and muskets wait patiently for the instructions of their leader.

Queen Nanny is a 'wise woman' with a reputation for ancient obeah magic, and a guerilla fighter with a genius for organisation. So the battle for Jamaica begins, the First Maroon War, in which the maroons - escaped slaves - will make a final, do-or-die stand against the slavers and soldiers of Empire.

 

Two Sisters: A Story of Freedom by Kereen Getten (Scholastic)

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Ruth has always known her half-sister isn't like her - her almost-white skin means she is allowed certain things that Ruth can only dream of. Anna wishes she could be braver, like her sister, Ruth. But she has had to live with the fact that the smallest mistake would land not only her in danger, but Ruth and their mother, too.

When Ruth and Anna are shipped off to Master John's home in London for their safety, it isn't the haven they imagined. Their differences force them apart - Anna is allowed to stay upstairs while Ruth is banished to the servants' quarters and is forced to work. With whispers of freedom on the city's streets, will Anna find the courage to stand up for Ruth before it's too late?

 

Young Adult Readers
 

Cane Warriors by Alex Wheatle (Andersen Press)

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Nobody free till everybody free. Moa is fourteen. The only life he has ever known is toiling on the Frontier sugar cane plantation for endless hot days, fearing the vicious whips of the overseers.

Then one night he learns of an uprising, led by the charismatic Tacky. Moa is to be a cane warrior, and fight for the freedom of all the enslaved people in the nearby plantations. But before they can escape, Moa and his friend Keverton must face their first great task: to kill their overseer, Misser Donaldson.

Time is ticking, and the day of the uprising approaches . . .

Irresistible, gripping and unforgettable, Cane Warriors follows the true story of Tacky's War in Jamaica, 1760.

 

Sawbones by Catherine Johnson (Walker Books)

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Sixteen-year-old Ezra McAdam has much to be thankful for: trained up as an apprentice by a well-regarded London surgeon, Ezra’s knowledge of human anatomy and skill at the dissection table will secure him a trade for life. However, his world is turned on its head when a failed break-in at his master’s house sets off a strange and disturbing series of events that involves grave robbing, body switching … and murder. Sparky, persuasive young Loveday Finch, daughter of the late Mr Charles Finch, magician, employs Ezra to investigate her father’s death - and there are marked similarities between his corpse and the others. The mystery takes Ezra and Loveday from the Operating Theatre at St Bart’s to the desolate wasteland of Coldbath Fields; from the streets of Clerkenwell to the dark, damp vaults of Newgate Prison; and finally to the shadowy and forbidding Ottoman Embassy, which seems to be the key to it all…

 

Poetry
 

Stars with Flaming Tails by Valerie Bloom (Otter-Barry Books)

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I travelled once around the world
On stars with flaming tails,
And touched the colours of my dreams
Along some silver trails.

Look out for best friends, pancakes, and Grandad singing; discover a river dolphin, a poison dart frog and the most dangerous animal in the world; imagine a talking nose, meet the Zimbats of Zingley Dell and find the colour of your dreams.



 

Under the Moon and Over the Sea by John Agard & Grace Nichols (Walker Books)

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An award-winning collection of poetry vividly evoking the experience of living in the Caribbean - and of leaving for other lands. This prestigious anthology, which won the 2003 CLPE Poetry Award, conjures up the sights and sounds, tastes and tales of the Caribbean; the experience of living there - and of leaving for other lands. A companion to the acclaimed A Caribbean Dozen, this book contains more than fifty poems by over thirty poets, including John Agard, Grace Nichols, James Berry, Valerie Bloom and Benjamin Zephaniah.

 

 

Cosmic Disco by Grace Nichols (Frances Lincoln)

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A sparkling galaxy of new poems by one of the UK' s most exciting contemporary poets. From Aurora Borealis, Sun - You' re a Star and A Matter of Holes, to Lady Winter' s Rap, the Earthworm Sonnet and You - a Universe Yourself, this is brilliant poetry with an astonishing range - comic riddles, animals and nature, home truths and the explosive wonder of the cosmos.

 

 

 

 

Hot Like Fire and Other Poems by Valerie Bloom (Bloomsbury)

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When de July sun hot like fire, Den I have jus' one desire, To run down to de shop an' buy a Kisko pop.

The World Is Sweet and Hot Like Fire published in one volume for the first time. Valerie Bloom's poetry is beautifully crafted yet full of energy and fun.

Her mixed use of standard English and dialect is a delight to read and hear. Children love reading and listening to her work! Valerie's subjects range from global pollution, problems with maths homework and the sad demise of pet frogs (he croaked of course) to taking sandwiches to school and being afraid of ghosts.

 

Talking Turkeys by Benjamin Zephaniah (Puffin)

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Talking Turkeys is an unconventional collection of straight-talking poems about heroes, revolutions, racism, love and animal rights, among other subjects, that will entice many new readers to poetry. It is his very first ground-breaking children's poetry collection - playful, clever and provocative - this is performance poetry on the page at its very best.

He is most well-known for his performance poetry with a political edge for both children and adults and gritty teenage fiction. His collections Talking Turkeys, Wicked World and Funky Chickens broke new ground in children's poetry. He is the only Rastafarian poet to be short-listed for the Chairs of Poetry for both Oxford and Cambridge University and has been listed in The Times' list of 50 greatest postwar writers.

 

The Rainmaker Danced by John Agard & Satoshi Kitamura (Hachette)

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Do trianglesever get into a tangle when their sides meet their angles? A wonderful new children's poetry collection, from a celebrated, award-winning poet. From nature and science to identity, prepare to be transported on a journey through past and present. This collection from John Agard, winner of the Queens Medal and the Eleanor Farjeon Award, explores the wonders of the world - inviting your child to ponder life's questions with lots of fun along the way!

 

 

 

Funky Chickens by Benjamin Zephaniah (Puffin)

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Enter the crazy world of rap poet Benjamin Zephaniah! A reissue of the wonderfully irreverent collection of poetry for young people, touching on anything from vegetables to the Queen and from sewage to the sun.

There's plenty of humour as well as poems on racism, pollution and the murder of a cat.

 

 


 

Half-Caste and Other Poems by John Agard (Hachette)

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The tensions brought about by differences of race and culture are at the heart of this powerful and entertaining collection by one of Britain's most exciting and original poets and performers. John Agard, winner of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, explores the richness of human diversity in the world today.
 

 

 

 

 

Non-Fiction, Memoir & Anthologies
 

The Story of the Windrush by K.N. Chimbiri (Scholastic)

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A book to celebrate the inspiring legacy of the Windrush pioneers. In June 1948, hundreds of Caribbean men, women and children arrived in London on a ship called the HMT Empire Windrush.

Although there were already Black people living in Britain at the time, this event marks the beginning of modern Black Britain. Combining historical fact with voices from the Windrush Generation, this book sensitively tells the inspiring story of the Windrush Generation pioneers for younger readers.



 

Coming to England by Floella Benjamin (Pan Macmillan)

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Baroness Floella Benjamin's classic childhood memoir, Coming to England, includes a foreword by the author and some additional historical information. It is beautifully illustrated by Michael Frith. Floella Benjamin was just a young girl when she, her sister and two brothers arrived in England in 1960 to join their parents, whom they had not seen for fifteen months.

They had left the island paradise of Trinidad to make a new home in London - part of a whole generation of West Indians who were encouraged to move to Britain and help rebuild the country after the Second World War. Reunited with her mother, Floella was too overwhelmed at first to care about the cold weather and the noise and dirt from the traffic. But, as her new life began, she was shocked and distressed by the rejection she experienced.

She soon realized that the only way to survive was to work twice as hard and be twice as good as anyone else. This inspirational story is a powerful reminder that courage and determination can overcome adversity.
 

Tales from the Caribbean by Trish Cooke (Puffin)

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A collection of favourite tales gathered from the many different islands of the Caribbean, one of the world's richest sources of traditional storytelling. From the very first Kingfisher to Anansi the Spider Man, these lively retellings full of humour and pathos, are beautifully retold by Trish Cooke. The book includes endnotes with a glossary, additional information as well as ideas for activities that children can do to explore the stories further.




 

Black and British: a short, essential history by David Olusoga (Pan Macmillan)

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A short, essential introduction to Black British history for readers of 12+ by award-winning historian and broadcaster David Olusoga. When did Africans first come to Britain? Who are the well-dressed black children in Georgian paintings? Why did the American Civil War disrupt the Industrial Revolution? These and many other questions are answered in this essential introduction to 1800 years of the Black British history: from the Roman Africans who guarded Hadrian's Wall right up to the present day. This new children's version of the bestseller Black and British: A Forgotten History is Illustrated with maps, photos and portraits.