Thursday, October 18, 2012

Books by Jamaican Authors for Children ages 8 -14

Please see the updated version of this post, August 2014

Children who read for pleasure improve their word knowledge, grammar and reading comprehension far beyond what is taught in formal classes. This holds true whether they are reading stories about children like themselves or different from themselves. Why then should we be concerned that books about children like themselves are available for their reading pleasure?

In her blog of October 16, 2012, Diane Browne wrote
“But where is the embracing of the Caribbean literature by the education system so that we may read about ourselves more often than we do, not only in set books, but just in the library at school? Do we think that our children can learn anything from the books being written now? Have our adult gatekeepers read the books and recognized their worth, not only as entertaining stories, but also as self validation, points from which discussion may arise in a young people valiantly searching for themselves , as all young people do? Books allow them to work through their fears, their sources of joy, their experiences, to try on various selves. It would seem a good thing if these selves could be related to their own lives.”

In relation to Diane’s observations, I will comment on a few school libraries I’ve seen. The best prep school library was spacious, full of books and had lending facilities, but the only Jamaican novel was ‘White Witch of Rosehall’. Most of the books in the library had been donated, so the school didn’t actually choose the books. Another prep school had no library. One primary school has a new purpose built library. They are gradually putting up shelves and unpacking boxes of N. American books which will fill the shelves. The school itself has neither a budget for library books nor for a full-time librarian.

I have therefore prepared a list of books by Jamaican authors for Children ages 8 -14. In addition to posting it on my blog, I will make the list available to any teacher librarian who is not aware of these books, especially the more recent titles. The prices of these books range from about $700 to $1,000. Supposing the price is $1,000, the cost for 1 copy of each of the first 25 books listed would be $25,000. For a school with 500 students, a donation of $50 from each child would cover the cost. The age range given for the readership is an average and there will be children above and below those ages who can read and enjoy the books.

Here’s the list:

1. Flying with Icarus by Curdella Forbes 2003 (Walker Books)

Carlong Sand Pebble Series available in Sangsters Book Stores
2. Jojo’s Treasure Hunt by Cherrell Shelley-Robinson 2003 (10-12)
3. Freedom Come by Jean Goulbourne 2002 (10 -12)
4. Island Princess in Brooklyn by Diane Browne 2011 (10-14)
5. Bernie and the Captain’s Ghost by Hazel Campbell 2010 (10-12)
6. Tek Mi! Noh Tek Mi by C. Shelley-Robinson et al 2008 (10-14)
7. Every Little Thing will be All Right by Diane Browne 2003 (8-10)
8. Little Island - Big Adventures by Maria Roberts-Squires 2007 (12-14)
9. Jenny and the General by Jean D’Costa 2006 (8-10)
10. Miss Bettina’s House by Hazel Campbell 2004 (8-10)

By Hazel Campbell, published by LMH,
available at outlets supplied by Novelty Trading.
11. Juice Box and Scandal                                                                                                                               
12. Tilly Bummie
13. Ramgoat Dashalong
14. Goat Boy Never Cries

By Diane Browne
15. A Tumbling World - A Time of Fire                                       
16. Cordelia Finds Fame and Fortune
17. The Ring and the Roaring Water (Available at Bookland)          

By Linda Gambrill (Beenybud Stories)
18. Miss Tiny (7- 9)
19. A Boy Named Neville (7 - 9)
20. Croaking Johnny and Dizzy Lizzie (7 - 9)

Island Fiction Series (Macmillan Caribbean 2009) available at outlets supplied by Novelty Trading

21. Delroy in the Marog Kingdom by Billy Elm 2009 (9-14)         

22. Night of the Indigo by Michael Holgate 2009 (12-15)

23. Blue Mountain Trouble by Martin Mordecai 2009 (8-12)

By Cedella Marley
24. The Boy from Nine Miles
25. One Love

26. A Jamaican Storyteller’s Tale by Lorrimer A. Burford ( 2005)

The following stories were written longer ago (‘70’s,’80’s; and ‘90’s) and are probably better known than more recent publications.

By James Berry
27. A Thief in the Village and Other Stories 1987 (12-up)
28. Ajeemah and His Son – Harper Collins1993 (8-up)

By Everard Palmer
29. A Cow Called Boy 1972 (6-10)
30. The Sun Salutes You (Republished by Macmillan Caribbean 2007) (8-12)
31. My Father Sun-Sun Johnson 1974 (8-12)
32. Cloud with the Silver Lining 1987 (8-12)

By Jean D’Costa
33. Sprat Morrison
34. Escape to Last Man Peak

By Andrew Salkey
35. Drought
36. Earthquake
37. Riot

By Vic Reid
38. Sixty-Five (1960), London: Longman.
39. The Young Warriors (1967), London: Longman.
40. Peter of Mount Ephraim (1971), Kingston: Jamaica Publishing House.
41. The Jamaicans (revised edition 1978), Kingston: Institute of Jamaica.
42. Nanny Town (1983)
43. The Horses of the Morning (1985)
For a comprehensive list of Jamaican and Caribbean books for children see

If anyone reading this post knows of, or has written other stories for 8 -14 year-olds, I would be most grateful if you would let me know.

Added in March, 2014, four books by Suzanne Francis Brown
The Mystery of the Golden Table (Arawak Publishing)
Searching for Pirates. A Port Royal Adventure (Arawak)
Marcus Garvey. (Suzanne Francis-Brown/Jean-Jacques Vayssieres)(Ian Randle Publ)
The Mermaid Escapade (E-Published, Kindle, 2013) 


Hazel Campbell said...

Thanks Helen. It always surprises me that teachers generally don't seem to actively seek to find out what is available locally. Many are not aware of these titles except those used as set books in the curriculum.
I know they are overworked and it's a bigger problem where there is no library or librarian.

Helen said...

Yes, Hazel, since we know they don't actively seek, all the more reason why we have to actively inform!

TGivans said...

Hi Helen. My 11 yr old son received Delroy in the Marog Kingdom a couple of years ago and enjoyed it. I was happy to see a fantasy novel with a Caribbean setting. I've recently set myself on a path to write children's books in a Jamaican context. Still trying to figure out how the industry works.