Illustrations by Hannah Robinson

No Ordinary Bookshop is an independent, online bookstore that specialises in inclusive representation in the products they sell, particularly showcasing black characters and culture. I had the pleasure of interviewing its founder and owner, Angel Miller. 

We began by discussing the diverse range of products they sell. Angel stocks an impressive variety of fiction, non-fiction, dual-language and multi-cultural books, ranging from baby books to adult fiction. No Ordinary Bookshop covers everything from socially informative texts to easy reads, but what sets it apart is the ethos of inclusion and equality as well as Angel’s personal passion for the books she selects. 

Angel tells me that she has always had a love of reading and started her journey selling children’s books at the back of her local church in the early 2000s. However, becoming a mother opened her eyes to the shocking lack of diversity in children’s fiction and motivated her to create a shop dedicated to displaying empowering characters of colour.  After the official website was founded in 2016, No Ordinary Bookshop was so well received that it then branched into adult literature. 

For Angel, a picture is worth certainly more than a thousand words. She describes the importance of being able to relate to the characters we see and the empowerment this can bring to young children of colour, especially for those learning to read through pictures. To be able to envisage oneself as a superhero, astronaut or princess is a privilege certainly taken for granted; not only including characters of colour but casting them in equal roles will help to promote a proper representation of society today. 

Angel’s products teach black children to dream, but her non-fiction range of children’s literature also showcases that their dreams can become a reality. These books platform empowering black figures and their achievements, something not often addressed in school curriculums and mainstream media. To celebrate Black History Month, they’re also running a portable ‘Hall of Fame’ museum. 

Moreover, many of the fictional characters in their books address many social issues, from grief and loss to friendship, in the hope that people will realise “we are all the same and dealing with the same problems” regardless of our appearance. 

From speaking to Angel, the bookshops’ sense of community becomes immediately clear and she believes customer service is central to this; the experience of shopping at No Ordinary Bookshop is as inclusive as the products themselves. Together with their online store, they host pop-up events in the London and Luton areas. Their popular Appalonia Show began as a travelling library in which Angel would hire out venues to give children of all backgrounds a safe space to read, more recently this has become a place for children and adults to come together. Along with their pop-up shops, these events make the business “distinctly family-orientated” and support the wider community. 

Finally, we talk about Angel’s hopes for the future of No Ordinary Bookshop. She wishes to partner with local schools to introduce more diverse and inclusive reading programmes for all students, broaden the limited representation in school curriculums, and work towards publishing and producing her own children’s books. Above all, she wants to continue unifying communities (as she says herself) “one book at a time”!

I urge you to visit No Ordinary Bookshop and learn more about their inspirational products and community. I can think of no better inclusive and inspiring space to support. 

You can find them online at https://noordinarybookshop.co.uk, via their social media @noordinarybookshop, or at their next pop-up event on Saturday 10th October.