The 2023 longlist of The Diverse Book Awards were announced today and there are a great selection of diverse reads for you to read! I had the privilege of being one of the judges again this year (in the children’s category) to select the longlist and I am so excited to share this list with you.
Created by award-winning author Abiola Bello and award-winning publicist Helen Lewis and co-founders of The Author School, this award aims to highlight the best of the diverse voices published in the UK & Ireland, this year focusing on those published during 2021, both traditionally and self-published.
And this year, The DBAs is giving readers a chance with The Readers” Choice Awards!
The shortlist will be announced in September and the winners on October 25. And now without further ado, here is the longlist:
All links will lead to either Bookshop.org or Waterstones. If you purchase through the links, this blog will receive a commission.
Small’s Big Dream by Manjeet Mann and illustrated by Amanda Quartey
Small lived in a small house.
She had a small room
with a small window
and at night
she slept in a small bed
with a too small blanket.Despite being small,
Small had BIG dreams.
In Small’s world, everything is small – her shoes, her bed, everything. But her dreams are big. And Small discovers that when you dream big, anything – and everything – can happen.Small’s Big Dream is the first picture book from Manjeet Mann, with artwork by exciting debut illustrator Amanda Quartey. Manjeet Mann is the author of the Costa Children’s Book Award winning The Crossing and critically acclaimed and Carnegie-shortlisted Run, Rebel. (Credit: HarperCollins)
You Need to Chill! by Juno Dawson and illustrated by Laura Hughes
When Bill can’t be found at school one day, the imaginations of the other children run wild. Is he on vacation? Is he lost in the park? Has he been eaten by a shark? It’s up to Bill’s sister to explain that everyone needs to chill.Juno Dawson’s debut LGBTQ children’s book is a witty and fun-filled rhyming story about family, identity, and acceptance. Bold, joyful, and warm-hearted, this inclusive children’s book’s message shines through on every page. (Credit: Sourcebooks Jaberwocky)
- Bookworms by Nyanda Foday, illustrated by Joelle Avelino (Andersen Press)
- Dadaji’s Paintbrush by Rashmi Sirdeshpande, illustrated by Ruchi Mhansane (Andersen Press)
- I am NOT a Prince by Rachael Davis, illustrated by Beatrix Hatcher (Orchard Books)
- John Agard’s Windrush Child by John Agard, illustrated by Sophie Bass (Walker Books)
- Me & My Dysphoria Monster by Laura Kate Dale, illustrator Ang Hui Qing (Jessica Kingsley Publishers)
- Nour’s Secret Library by Wafa Tarnowska, illustrated by Vali Mintzi (Barefoot Books)
- Our Story Starts in Africa by Patrice Lawrence, illustrated by Jeanetta Gonzales (Magic Cat)
- Our Tower by Joseph Coelho, illustrated by Richard Johnson (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books)
- Saving The Butterfly by Helen Cooper, illustrated by Gill Smith (Walker Books)
- The Missing Piece by Jordan Stephens, illustrated by Beth Suzanna (Bloomsbury Children’s Books)
Keep Dancing Lizzie Chu by Maisie Chan
Twelve-year-old Lizzie Chu has lived with her Wai Gong (grandfather) in Glasgow since her parents died when she was a baby. But Wai Gong has been acting different lately. He spends a lot of time talking to his Guan Yin statue–the Chinese goddess of compassion, kindness, and mercy–at his altar and seems to be becoming more forgetful. Even the shared passion he and Lizzie have for their favorite show, Strictly Come Dancing, seems to be tailing off.
When Lizzie’s friend Chi visits one day dressed as Princess Leia for Comic Con, Wai Gong mistakes her for Guan Yin, and is naturally delighted, and Lizzie seizes the opportunity to use Chi as Guan Yin to help her with her grandad. And then Lizzie gets an idea: she and Chi can take Wai Gong to Blackpool to the Tower Ballroom, where he’d always dreamed of going. If only she can get her grandad there, she thinks, he’ll find some peace, and perhaps things will be OK at home again. After all, one of the myths around Guan Yin is that she brings order and harmony, so it’s got to work out–right? (Credit: Amulet Books)
Kiki Kallira Conquers a Curse by Sangu Mandanna
Fresh off the exciting discovery that her sketches of a beautiful kingdom and band of rebel kids have come to life in another world, Kiki Kallira has an unexpected visitor. One of those rebel kids has come into the real world to ask for her help–again. The river Kaveri, a crucial source of water for Mysore, has suddenly vanished! With no water to grow food or for wildlife to drink, Kiki’s kingdom is doomed.
Kiki enters her sketchbook once again, and her search for answers reveals the origin of the Kaveri: it’s actually a princess from long ago who was transformed into water by a terrible curse. It’s up to Kiki and her friends to restore the river without sacrificing the princess again–easier said than done! And with her mounting anxiety, enemies seeking to stop her, and a city growing weaker by the minute, Kiki’s confidence falters. Will she be able to unravel the curse and save her kingdom before it’s too late? (Credit: Viking Books for Young Readers)
- A Flash of Fireflies by Aisha Bushby (Farshore)
- Ajay and The Mumbai Sun by Varsha Shah (Chicken House)
- Future Hero: Race To Fire Mountain by Remi Blackwood (Scholastic)
- Marv and The Dino Attacks by Alex Falase-Koya, illustrated by Paula Bowles (Oxford University Press)
- Mia and the Lightcasters by Janelle McCurdy, illustrated by Ana Latese (Faber Children’s)
- Sadé and her Shadow Beasts by Rachel Faturoti, illustrated by Rumbidzai Savanhu (Hodder Children’s Books)
- The Elemental Detectives by Patrice Lawrence (Scholastic)
- The Lizzie and Belle Mysteries: Drama and Danger by J.T. Williams, illustrated by Simone Douglas (Farshore)
- Secret of Haven Point by Lisette Auton, illustrated by Valentina Toro (Puffin)
- The Twig Man by Sana Rasoul (Hashtag Press)
Teen & Young Adult
Love in Winter Wonderland by Abiola Bello
Trey Anderson is popular and handsome, and he works at his family’s beloved Black-owned bookshop, Wonderland. Ariel Spencer is quirky, creative, and in need of a holiday temp job to cover her tuition for The Artists’ Studio. An opening at Wonderland is the answer . . . and the start of a hate-to-love journey for Trey and Ariel. When Trey and Ariel learn that Wonderland is on the brink of shutting down, can they get over their differences and team up to stop the doors from closing before the deadline? (Credit: Simon & Schuster UK)
The Society for Soulless Girls by Laura Steven
Ten years ago, four students lost their lives in the infamous North Tower murders at the elite Carvell College of Arts, forcing Carvell to close its doors. Now Carvell is reopening, and fearless student Lottie is determined to find out what really happened. But when her roommate, Alice, stumbles upon a sinister soul-splitting ritual hidden in Carvell’s haunted library, the North Tower claims another victim.
Can Lottie uncover the truth before the North Tower strikes again? Can Alice reverse the ritual before her monstrous alter ego consumes her? And can they stop flirting for literally fifteen seconds in order to do this? (Credit: HarperCollins)
- Bad Things Happen Here by Rebecca Barrow (Hot Key Books)
- Blood to Poison by Mary Watson (Bloomsbury)
- Cuts Both Ways by Candice Brathwaite (Quercus Children’s Books)
- Gay Club! by Simon James Green (Scholastic)
- If You Still Recognise Me by Cynthia So (Little Tiger)
- The Haunting of Tyrese Walker by J.P. Rose (Anderson Press)
- The King Is Dead by Benjamin Dean (Simon & Schuster)
- Toxic by Natasha Devon (UCLan Publishing)
- When Our Worlds Collided by Danielle Jawando (Simon & Schuster)
- Why Is Nobody Laughing by Yasmin Rahman (Hot Key Books)
Someday, Maybe by Onyi Nwabineli
Here are three things you should know about my husband:
- He was the great love of my life despite his penchant for going incommunicado.
- He was, as far as I and everyone else could tell, perfectly happy. Which is significant because…
- On New Year’s Eve, he died.
And here is one thing you should know about me:
- I found him.
Bonus fact: No. I am not okay.(Credit: Graydon House)
Love Marriage by Monica Ali
In present-day London, Yasmin Ghorami is twenty-six, in training to be a doctor (like her Indian-born father), and engaged to the charismatic, upper-class Joe Sangster, whose formidable mother, Harriet, is a famous feminist. The gulf between families is vast. So, too, is the gulf in sexual experience between Yasmin and Joe.
As the wedding day draws near, misunderstandings, infidelities, and long-held secrets upend both Yasmin’s relationship and that of her parents, a “love marriage,” according to the family lore that Yasmin has believed all her life. (Credit: Scirbner Book Comapny)
- Here Again Now by Okechukwu Nzelu (Dialogue Books)
- Losing The Plot by Derek Owusu (Canongate Books)
- News At Noon by Anietie Isong (Jacaranda)
- One for Sorrow, Two for Joy by Marie-Claire Amuah (Oneworld)
- Still Lives by Reshma Ruia (Renard Press)
- The Attic Child by Lola Jaye (Pan Macmillan)
- These Impossible Things by Salma El-Wardany (Trapeze)
- Wahala by Nikki May (Doubleday)
- Who’s Loving You: Love Stories by Women of Colour, edited by Sareeta Domingo (Trapeze)
- Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn (Viking)