Diversity in Primary Literacy

A picture of Dan alongside the Bug Club logo and the Bug Club books he wrote

Dan White

As well as a children's author and more, Dan is the proud father to a bold, exciting, adventurous wheelchair user – a daughter who has always pushed the boundaries, and, by 14 was hailed a “comic book hero” in the National Diversity Awards. He's been frustrated again and again by the lack of positive wheelchair-using role models in books, TV and films. And he isn't the only one. 

That's why Dan wrote our 3-book cluster, Brook's Boredom Busters. Brook, the star of the cluster of books, is a confident girl who uses a wheelchair and wouldn’t change her circumstances. She is the kind of character that he wishes his own daughter had been exposed to as a child; her able-bodied friends and classmates too. In her debut, Look, Brook!, Brook travels to the moon, tapping into the childhood dream of being in space that so many of us share.

In book two, Brook and the History Book, Brook goes on an escapade in a time machine, meeting different people who have used wheelchairs through the ages. In book three, Brook Meets Farook, Brook meets kids who are new to having a wheelchair, helping them see the transition needn’t be scary.

Throughout the series, Brook is proud of her disability and empowered. Dan's hope is that she will be a role model for the young readers who meet her, whatever their own abilities or background.

Dan also wrote us:

A picture of Casey alongside the Bug Club logo and the Bug Club books she wrote

Casey Elisha

Casey's debut book (not for Bug Club) was called Love thy ‘Fro and is about a girl embracing her Afro hair.

For Bug Club, Casey wrote our 3-book cluster, Shola and Tate. This cluster is about two friends, a young black girl and boy, who have some fun adventures, two around their hair and one at London’s Notting Hill Carnival! 

Casey wanted to write some fun stories that would be relatable to all children, but from the experience of those that look like her. Hair is such a big topic in the black community, so she wanted to include that, and with the return of Notting Hill Carnival, she thought it the perfect time to touch on that experience. 

Outside this cluster, she also wrote for Bug Club:

More about Casey

Picture of Gemma alongside the Bug Club logo and the Bug Club books she wrote

Gemma Bagnall

Gemma is a Primary school teacher who is passionate about promoting the inclusion of children from Gypsy, Romany and Traveller backgrounds. Growing up in the GRT community, Gemma would have loved to see herself and her community represented in books and was excited to be asked to write for Bug Club. 

Gemma has written the Box of Stories cluster of decodable books for Bug Club Independent – a set of three delightful stories about three children, two of whom are from the GRT community. The books celebrate the rich storytelling traditions in GRT culture through the characters’ imaginative play and their adventures at each other's homes, including on a Traveller site.

Gemma has also written some great non-fiction for us, including a showcase of the diverse types of homes that children live in in the bookk A Home Like This

Picture of Abi alongside the Bug Club logo and the Bug Club books she wrote

Abi Wainwright

Abi was born in Sri Lanka and moved to England with her parents as a young child. She and her husband now have three young children who are British Sri Lankan and who rarely see their family make-up reflected in books. Abi was keen to write stories that feature a British-Asian family so that her children and others like them would finally be able to see themselves represented having the same adventures and fun as everyone else. 

Abi’s three stories about The Hunter Kids are inspired by real-life experiences enjoyed by her children – such as constructing wonderful mazes to keep their escapologist hamster happy, lockdown birthday parties and the fantastic forts and dens the children’s grandpa builds for them!

Abi has also written some non-fiction books for us inspired by her love of travel and languages. 

Picture of Tanya alongside the Bug Club logo and the Bug Club books she wrote

Tanya Luther

Tanya Luther (also known as Tanya Luther Agarwal) has written over 100 books for children and adults, published in India, the UK, the UAE, and Finland. Several of her books have been translated to 75 Indian and foreign languages. She recently moved from New Delhi, India to the US and her three At Lilypad Pond stories for Bug Club Independent reflect the idea of moving to a new place.

She also wrote:

Smriti Prasadam-Halls

Smriti is an award-winning, critically acclaimed children’s author. Since publication of her first picture book in 2012, she has had a U.S. number 1 bestseller and been published in more than 30 languages, from Arabic to Afrikaans and from Catalan to Korean.

For our Bug Club series, she wrote a selection of our new Disney books, and you'll see her name on a few Bug Club Guided and Bug Club Shared readers too!

Find out more about Smriti

Images of two of our Disney Encanto Bug Club books

Sumathi Pathmanaban

Sumathi was born in Hampshire to Sri Lankan parents and is the Bug Club author of Bruno’s Tower and Sisters Together – two books based on the Disney film Encanto. She has worked for charities that support some of the most excluded people in our communities over the last decade and currently is a grant-maker for a national children’s charity.

Her number one favourite activity in her free time is reading, both for herself and with her rambunctious five-year-old twins!

There are many reasons Sumathi was excited to write about Disney Encanto, one of these being that its main character is a young woman of colour who wears glasses, much as Sumathi was 25 years ago (without all the magical adventures!).

Sumathi believes it is life-changing for children and young people from diverse backgrounds to see themselves reflected in the books available at school, in libraries and in bookshops. She really enjoyed creating stories about Mirabel and her family’s adventures for Bug Club and hopes they will speak to young people everywhere.

The power and influence of illustration – bringing your work to life

It’s said that a picture paints a thousand words and Art Director, Kate Johnson, couldn’t agree more. Kate shares her perspective on the importance of imagery and how you can support pupils to build literacy skills in a creative (and colourful) way.

Read more about The power and influence of illustration – bringing your work to life

Why can’t I see my family in this book?

Blog by Sarah Loader. As an adopter, I find it really difficult to find books which represent my daughter’s reality. I’m not talking about books about adoption, which have a place, but can be confronting, uncomfortable even, and are rarely great stories in their own right. I’m talking about books with incidental representation of adoption, where families don’t all necessarily look alike, but it’s not the focus – it’s the backdrop to a high-quality, engaging narrative...

Read more about Why can’t I see my family in this book?

Pink books and blue books: Are we widening the reading gap between boys and girls?

Blog by Antony Witheyman. Stop. Just stop whatever you are doing and go and have a look at the book corner in Year 5. What does it look like? What does it tell you about the reading culture in your school?

Read more about Pink books and blue books: Are we widening the reading gap between boys and girls?

The value of representation

Blog by Kiran Satti. Who do we see in the imagined worlds of literature – do we see ourselves, and do we see others?

Read more about The value of representation

Reading Formats that Work for All: Supporting Dyslexic Readers

Blog by Ben Waldram. Reading is an integral skill to life and one which we need to unlock in order to open many other doors to learning. We know that not all children learn in the same way and that many of them face barriers, especially in reading.

Read more about Reading Formats that Work for All: Supporting Dyslexic Readers