As the year draws to close we wanted to bring you our chosen ten children books that were published in 2020. They might not all be best sellers or trending across social and digital media but each book teaches children empathy and acceptance, things not often found in children’s literature.

The Arabic Quilt by Aya Khalil and Anait Semirdzhyan

The book follows Egyptian Kanzi at her new school, where she worries about fitting in. She finds comfort in Teita’s Arabic quilt, and with the help of her teacher, she shares her love for her language and culture with fellow classmates.

Boy, Everywhere by A.M. Dassu

Sami is a boy who has his life torn apart by the civil war in Syria. Now he and his family find themselves on the run in a desperate attempt to make it to the UK. On the way he witnesses trauma, heartache, madness and also hope and love.

I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott

Based on the author’s own experience, this book tells the story of a young boy with a stutter and his difficulties when it comes to communicating. But as he walks with his kind father by a flowing river, he’s able to find his voice.

When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed

The novel tells the true story of two brothers, Omar and Hassan — Somali refugees living in a Kenyan camp. Life is hard there — food and supplies are scare, as is medical attention, which non-verbal Hassan desperately needs. When Omar has the opportunity to go to school, and build a better life for himself and Hassan, he must decide if it’s worth having to leave Hassan on his own every day.

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

ZJ’s dad used to be a star football player, but his life now is anything but charmed. His dad struggles with remembering things and seems angry all the time. ZJ knows it’s from the countless head injuries his dad endured while playing, but he still struggles to hold onto what’s left of the father he once knew.

A Kind Of Spark by Elle Mcnicoll

Addie is autistic in a world where many people don’t understand or care to understand her challenges. Living in Scotland, she discovers that the village she lives in executed witches many hundreds of years ago. She embarks on a mission to get the local government to build a memorial for them, a task that will test her patience and will.

Prairie Lotus by Linda Sue Park

Thirteen-year-old Hanna loses her Chinese mother and must grow into a young woman amidst the adversity she faces in De Smet, where her white father has decided to set up a textiles shop. The story takes place in Dakota Territory, the protagonist confronts prejudice in school and in her town, an unfortunate situation which she meets with courage, kindness, and resourcefulness.

Sugar In Milk by Thirty Umrigar And Khoa Le

A young girl moves to a new country to live with her aunt and uncle, but she doesn’t speak the language and struggles to make friends. Her aunt tells her a story she was told as a child about a group of refugees who come to a new country’s shore seeking to settle. The country’s king doesn’t want them to settle there, and since they speak different languages and can’t understand one another, he shows his refusal by filling a cup with milk. The refugees respond by adding sugar to the milk, which dissolves and makes the milk sweeter, symbolizing that accepting people into the country can only make the country sweeter. Emboldened by the story, the girl makes more of an effort to communicate. She smiles at people, makes eye contact, and soon she makes friends. The folktale comes from the author’s Zoroastrian upbringing as a Parsi child in India.

Superman Smashes The Klan by Gene Luen Yang And Gurihiru

Set in 1946, the story centres around Chinese American siblings Roberta and Tommy Lee, whose family has been targeted by the bigoted Klan of the Fiery Cross. Superman is there to help, of course, but he’s also busy coming to grips with his own extraterrestrial origins.

Baba, What Does My Name Mean? By Rifk Ebeid

When Saamidah, a young Palestinian refugee, is asked by her friends what her name means, she isn’t quite sure what to say. She turns to her baba for some answers – but what she gets is an adventure beyond her wildest dreams. Join Saamidah on a lyrical journey, with dazzling illustrations, that brings to life her beloved homeland and celebrates the richness of her cultural heritage.