Ivy’s Library began as a few scribbled notes on a phone in 2017. It was a space to share children’s picture book recommendations with friends and family.
Several years later, it has transformed into a 15 hours per week passion project driven by the sheer joy of reading, by a desire to introduce brilliant books beyond big-budget bestsellers, and by a determination to encourage families, carers and teachers to incorporate inclusive stories that encompass and celebrate diverse characters into children’s bookshelves.
Stick around a while, search for book reviews by topic or view the themed collections, read opinion pieces from publishers and educators, or enter competitions. Pour a cup of tea (or perhaps a glass of wine), dig deeper into the archives and be inspired by Ivy’s Guestbook packed with interviews with authors, illustrators and small business owners.
Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Shelley.
For as long as she could remember, Shelley loved to read. She whizzed through all of the books intended for her age group at infant school, and then through all of the junior school library too. Eventually, her teacher Mrs Blackwell started to bring her very own books from home for Shelley to read.
When Shelley was 6 years old, her perception of the world was still very small, just like her. Then she read the story of Helen Keller (a deaf-blind women’s rights and disability activist). It was the first time she had read non-fiction. After that, her curiosity grew and grew and grew. She was inspired to read more and more about people in other countries and from different cultures whose lives were very different from hers.
Years passed and Shelley moved to London. She had a little girl of her own. They lived together with her husband Simon and their chunky cat, Esme.
Shelley named her daughter Ivy. When Ivy was a tiny baby, Shelley started reading to her too. It turned out that Ivy loved books just as much as her mummy, so they would snuggle up together day after day turning page after page through stacks of picture books.
They read raucous rhymes which made Ivy laugh out loud.
They read books with sounds and flaps and fluffy patches for little fingers to explore.
They read books about book monsters and books with no pictures and books with bright illustrations.
They read books about girls who looked just like Ivy and they read books about children who had black skin and olive skin, about children who lived in castles and children who lived in tents, about children who had two mummies and children whose wheelchairs and hearing aids gave them freedom.
The stacks of books grew higher and higher and higher. They filled the shelves and spilled out into the rest of the house.
They discovered so many wonderful books that they wanted other families, teachers and carers to enjoy them too. And so they decided to start sharing reviews of the ones they loved the most. When they started, they just couldn’t stop.
Reading with children is so important.
Welcome to Ivy’s Library.
MEET THE TEAM
Shelley (43) is a self-professed bona fide book addict. She was born in small village on the South Wales coast and has been a Londoner since her early 20s. These days, when she’s not reading children’s books with Ivy, writing reviews, or working on marketing projects, she still loves to enjoy both fiction and non-fiction for herself, preferably with a glass of red in a bubble bath. Shelley believes strongly in the importance of diverse and inclusive books as a tool for developing empathy and broadening horizons.
Ivy (5) started reception in 2020. Reading with Shelley has helped her prepare for school. Books have taught Ivy that the world is a wonderfully diverse place. It has had a significant impact on her vocabulary range, given her the mindset that books are fun rather than a chore, and has taught her to begin telling her own stories because she understands the basic structure. No doubt Ivy will be reading on her own very soon.