top of page
Sky, grass and coach background image

Over 40 years championing inclusive books for children.

Letterbox Library is famous for a unique book selection process:

  • we specialise in books in which all children can see themselves and which reflect our world community in all of its diversity;
  • we use an expert team of volunteers, including teachers & children, to review and choose all of our books;
  • inclusive content is not enough- the quality and depth of that representation is paramount;
  • our reviewers only select books which show excellence in storyline/artwork and which have genuine child appeal;
  • we are passionate about resisting commercial trends;

  • we want to offer children real choices in what they read;

  • we seek out books by new voices and by creatives who have been traditionally

       under-represented in or marginalised by the arts;

  • we are also known for our books promoting social justice.

Our Book Reviewers

Undeniably, it is our rigorous selection process which has created the Letterbox Library name. Through constant research, we seek out potential titles from a vast range of sources. We have established excellent working relationships with a wide network of children’s publishers, including the big children's publishing houses as well as the quieter, small, independent publishers.

 

Our steady team of 20-25 volunteer reviewers include teachers, librarians, social workers, educational consultants, authors and young people/children. All of our reviewers are issued with clear guidelines. For a book to be approved for sale by Letterbox Library, it needs to have at least 3 positive reviews from our volunteers. Through this process, only 30-35% of books are approved for sale.

 

All of the books signed off by our review team are neatly organized on our huge Approved Stock bookshelves. This means that when it is time to choose new titles for our website, we have the joy of picking out the very best of the best. Which means, in turn, that we only ever bring you the very best of the best inclusive children’s books.

 

Our staggering (in all sense of the word) Approved Stock bookshelves ensure we are also able to substitute in to our book packs very easily whenever a title goes out of print or suddenly becomes unavailable from the publisher.

 

We refer to our volunteer review team as our backbone. They bring us invaluable skills, expertise and specialist knowledge, You will often see members of the team quoted in the book blurbs on our website. Here’s a little bit more about some of our reviewers, in their very own words:

Books
Photograph of reviewer Darren Chetty

Darren Chetty

is a lecturer at University College London, having taught in primary schools for over twenty years. He works on racism, education, dialogue and children’s literature. He contributed to the best-selling book The Good Immigrant (Unbound). For younger readers, Darren co-authored, with Jeffrey Boakye, What Is Masculinity? Why Does It Matter? And Other Big Questions (Wayland) and contributed to The Mab: Eleven Epic Stories from the Mabinogi edited by Matt Brown and Eloise Williams. Since 2018, he has written a regular column for Books for Keeps with Professor Karen Sands O’Connor examining Black & racially minoritised characters in children’s literature, entitled 'Beyond the Secret Garden'. A book based on the column will be published by the English Media Centre in 2024. Darren has judged the Blue Peter, YA, CLiPPA, and Little Rebels book awards and the BookTrust Lifetime Achievement Award. He provided training for the Carnegie judges and advises on the CLPE Reflecting Realities research and Penguin / Runnymede Trust Lit in Colour project.

Photograph of reviewer Beth Cox

Beth Cox

is an inclusion and equality consultant (and editor) and founder of Beth Cox Inclusion Consultancy Ltd. She has worked in the publishing industry since 2003 and was at Child’s Play International Ltd for almost eight years before becoming self-employed. From 2005–08 she was on the steering group for the lottery-funded Scope ‘In the Picture’ project. She is the co-founder of Inclusive Minds alongside Alexandra Strick and speaks on inclusion at conferences across the UK and overseas. She’s currently involved in facilitating the Reflecting Disability project. Beth is the author of four books in the Level Headers series and All Bodies are Wonderful, all published by B small publishing. Beth is late-identified autistic and the solo parent of a donor-conceived child, who is also autistic. For more information visit www.bethcox.co.uk and connect on LinkedIn and Instagram @BethCInclusion.

Jayne Grant

Jayne Grant

“Although now retired after 40 years in education, I remain passionate about children's books both in terms of representation of diversity and the quality of the text and illustrations. During the latter years in school, I was Deputy Headteacher for Inclusion. This role encompassed a wide range of responsibilities including provision for children with SEND, Looked After and Adopted children and overseeing an additional provision and curriculum for children with social and communication difficulties many of whom had a diagnosis of autism. I was also the Designated Lead for safeguarding.

During this time, I was acutely aware of the lack of representation in books for many of the children and families I worked with. This was particularly the case of many of the books included in the usual book fairs available to schools. 

Ongoing budget crises also means libraries and bookshops do not always stock the widest range of books which would enhance all children's understanding of their world and the people in it.

I have been so lucky to have been a volunteer reader for Letterbox Library for over 25 years. This has given me the opportunity to read and recommend many books for young children as well as having the freedom to be honest where needed when books do not meet the clear criteria given by Letterbox to be included on their website. I look forward to many more years ahead being a volunteer reader!”

Books
Photograph of reviewer Eileen Gornall

Eileen Gornall

“I have always loved books, books, books! I came across Letterbox Library long ago at a course for Primary school teachers in Cambridge and have remained impressed by them ever since. When I retired from teaching 20 years ago an opportunity arose to become a volunteer reader helping to review books in accordance with their ideals of inclusivity and excellence in both writing and illustration. May it long continue to be a little beacon of non profit light in the seemingly self absorbed world we inhabit.”

Photograph of reviewer Farrah Serroukh

Farrah Serroukh

is the Research and Development Director at the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE). Throughout her career, Farrah has always been committed to amplifying marginalised voices and keenly advocated for inclusive practices both within and outside of the education sector. An experienced teacher, she is responsible for leading on the research and development strand of CLPE’s work which informs the design, development, and delivery of the charity’s professional development programme. She is the author of the CLPE’s annual Reflecting Realities Survey and leads on the ground-breaking and award winning work in this area. 

Deborah Price

Deborah Price

has worked with children and adult professionals working with children for forty years. She has published six books with Routledge and JKP mainly looking at equalities and LGBT issues. She has retired as a university lecturer in education, published a memoir and now writes and travels.

Books
Photograph of reviewer Rosalind Millam

Rosalind Millam

“I have been privileged to have always worked in early years in various roles. I have worked with many wonderful individuals and organisations. This has included managing early years settings, working for local authorities, children’s charities and national organisations and running my own business as a trainer and consultant. I support settings and design and deliver a variety of early years training courses as well as doing the occasional bit of writing.  In my spare time I am a school governor, and of course, a volunteer reader for Letterbox Library. It brings me great joy when I receive a parcel of books to review.“

Carey Tighe

Carey Tighe

“Hi, I’m Carey. I have been working with children firstly as a child minder and now as the manager and Early Years teacher of a busy Preschool for 30 years. Books have been my passion since my own childhood. I have loved reading to my own children and now to the children in my care. I firmly believe good books should give children an understanding  of other worlds and people,  as well as reflecting their own life.  Looking at books and reading with children is so important for developing rich language, imagination, empathy and humour.  I really value the opportunity to consider and review the wide range of books that Letterbox Library has to offer.”

Meryl Shepherd

Meryl Shepherd

“Throughout my adult life I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by young children in my work and personal life. The importance of books, reading, storytelling and the enjoyment this fosters has been ever present. My career has included teaching across four London boroughs in nursery, reception classes and with children who have special needs. It has also led me to training practitioners to work with children in early years in both further and higher education settings. I am also a proud grandmother of three amazing young grandchildren too. My involvement in reviewing for Letterbox books has been both a pleasure and interesting.”

Books
Patrice Lawrence

Patrice Lawrence

is a writer for children and young people who is passionate about social justice. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked for charities that promoted the rights of children, families and adults that often go unheard. Her books for children and young adults have been shortlisted for and won a number of major prizes. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

June Eaton

June Eaton

is a disability activist and disabled parent, living in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire. She is currently working on the Reflecting Disability children's book project, as a member of the steering group. This is an ACE funded pilot project (as of 2024) exploring representation of disabled people in UK children’s books.

Sylvia Chew

Sylvia Chew

has had a long career in children’s social work and is an integrative counsellor. An avid reader, she is passionate about books and especially those that allow children and young people to recognise themselves on the pages. She has been a reviewer for Letterbox Library for longer than she can remember and feels privileged to be part of the selection process. AND - she gets to read loads of really exciting books by amazing authors.

Books
Elaine Smith

Elaine Smith

“Hi. My name is Elaine. I am retired but my working life was very much in education. First as a teacher then latterly as an Educational Psychologist. Retirement is very full (how did I find time to work!). In addition to reviewing for Letterbox Library, I guide with the Education team at Birmingham Cathedral; I am treasurer of the local WI; I run a book club in the village. My husband and I love to travel, and we share interests also in gardening and history and of course spending time with family and friends especially with our two amazing grandchildren”.

Edyta Ballantyne

Edyta Ballantyne

is a mother of two girls and has been a teacher and leader in Inner City North London Primary Schools for over 20 years. She’s passionate about people, relationships and the transformative power of education and in particular reading. She has a strong interest in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging and has a small but impressive library of children’s books ! She’s currently a Deputy Headteacher in Hackney and is working with the local authority on their Anti Racist and Inclusion Charter.

Ann Marie Christian

Ann Marie Christian

is an international safeguarding consultant, advisor and trainer.

She has been a qualified child protection social worker since 1996. Initially a school based social worker, she progressed to managing social workers in schools and then in children's services. Ann Marie has supported various international education establishments and governmental departments in developing safeguarding strategies and practices. She is passionate about inclusion, diversity, equity, and justice concerning discrimination and prejudice-based bullying relating to a child’s identity and the impact this has on the welfare of the child. She was ‘Highly Commended’ and received an award at the Win Trade Awards 2019 for ‘Woman in the Public Sector’. She was nominated in 2018 & 2019 for the NSPCC Child Protection Trainer of the Year. Ann Marie's 15-year-old daughter also reviews for Letterbox Library.

Books
Mark Jennett

Mark Jennett

is a consultant, trainer and writer specializing in equality and diversity, PSHE and RSHE, emotional wellbeing and mental health.  As well as working extensively with schools, he is the Lead Advisor for Optimus Education’s Wellbeing Award for Schools and provides regular consultancy around representation and diversity to the DfE as a member of their Inclusion Experts panel.  Other recent clients include Amnesty International, the Sex Education Forum and Oxford University Press. He has written resources for the National Education Union about using children’s books to promote LGBTQ+ and disability equality and challenge gender stereotypes. www.promotingequality.com

Fiona Kirk

“I have been a school librarian for over 20 years working in both primary and secondary schools. Books have always been a huge part of my life from early childhood onwards. I am proud to have been part of Letterbox Library since 2005. There will always, it seems, be a need for Letterbox Library and it's championing of inclusive children's books.”

Hannah Hawthorn

Hannah Hawthorn

Hannah and Isak discovered Letterbox Library when Isak was a baby and they have been big fans ever since. Hannah has held a range of social work roles in children and families and social justice. She is currently the Implementation Officer for ‘Promise’, the Scottish Borders’ umbrella policy driver for all their work with children, young people and families. Hannah is passionate about promoting children's rights and striving for social justice. Isak has loved stories since he was little, and being a Letterbox Library reviewer allows him to share his interest with a younger audience. They both hope that Letterbox Library books continue to inspire children and young people for generations to come.

bottom of page