Twenty titles selected for Balance the Books: a celebration of diverse literature in schools

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We’re excited to announce a new project from our award-winning Young Writers programme, which celebrates a diverse range of literature and encourages young people to read widely and for pleasure. Balance the Books will launch in secondary schools in North East England in January 2022.

We developed Balance the Books after conversations with young people who felt their own lives were not reflected in the literature in their school libraries. The project aims to inspire young people to read for pleasure, encouraging them to discover more books by authors with whom they identify, as well as challenging them to read broadly and adventurously, learning about experiences that have historically been marginalised and underrepresented in literature. The project celebrates literature’s unique ability to provide both a mirror on our own lives and a window to the world.

Following a shortlisting process by a panel of young people, teachers, librarians and expert readers, the final selection of twenty Balance the Books titles was chosen by participants of our Young Writers programme. The selected titles are written authors from a wide range of underrepresented backgrounds, including people of colour, disabled people, LGBTQIA+ people, working class people, care experienced people.

New Writing North’s partner schools will each receive package of 100 books to form their Balance the Books shelf; reading resources commissioned by the authors; book clubs and other shared reading activity. Young people outside of these schools will also be encouraged to take part by sharing their reading and recommending books using #BalanceTheBooks on social media.

The Balance the Books list is:

  • A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll
  • Afterlove by Tanya Byrne
  • And The Stars Were Burning Brightlyby Danielle Jawando
  • Black and British: A Short, Essential Historyby David Olusoga
  • The Black Flamingoby Dean Atta
  • Cane Warriorsby Alex Wheatle
  • Careless by Kirsty Capes
  • The Dark Lady by Akala
  • I am Thunderby Muhammad Khan
  • Long Way Downby Jason Reynolds
  • My Name Is Why by Lemn Sissay
  • Oh My Godsby?Alexandra Sheppard
  • Petby Akwaeke Emezi
  • Poorby Caleb Femi
  • Run Riotby Nikesh Shukla
  • Stay a Little Longer by Bali Rai
  • Tall Story by Candy Gourlay
  • Under Rose Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall
  • What’s the T? by Juno Dawson
  • You’re Not Proper by Tariq Mahmood

Discover more on our Balance the Books page