Biography - Verna Wilkins

Last updated: Friday, September 30, 2011 12:01 PM

I was a trustee in your youth; now, as a patron in your maturity, I know you will continue to take the wonderful world of words to children. It will make a positive difference to their lives.

Verna Wilkins is founder and Managing Director of Tamarind a publishing company, which she has run successfully since 1987. She is also the author of 30 picture books and seven biographies for young people.
Verna is a Patron on the National Literacy Association and a Trustee of Ealing Parent Partnership.

Verna was born in Grenada where her father was instrumental in introducing Caribbean History to a curriculum dominated by Britain's past. Verna worked as a Lecturer in English and Business for ten years before founding Tamarind and is the recipient of many awards for her contributions to children's literature. Verna believes that the early years of childhood are important in their own right, as well as being the foundation for later life.

Her main aims, as a publisher, are:

  • To put black children 'in the picture' in their early years' books
  • To represent disability unselfconsciously
  • To represent black and disabled children positively in classroom resources
  • To publish books which provide them with role models for success.

She is an internationally acclaimed speaker whose mission is to empower children and carers of children for success.
Tamarind produces a range of high quality, stunningly illustrated children's books with a focus on diversity and inclusion. In this successful range of books for all children, black children have a high, positive profile and disability is unselfconsciously depicted. Tamarind's award winning books are beautifully illustrated with stories about computer-literate tooth fairies, professional female giants and Caribbean mermaids.
Tamarind books are popular with parents and teachers and have won many awards. They feature regularly on BBC, TV Children's Programmes (Words and Pictures, Balamory, Cbeebies) and are included on the National Curriculum SATs list consistently.
Verna is the author of 30 picture books and biographies for younger people including Dave and the Tooth Fairy, awarded Book of the Year status, The Life of Stephen Lawrence and the biographies of Benjamin Zephaniah (Poet & Author) and Chinwe Roy (Artist who painted the Jubilee 2002 portrait of the Queen). The Biography of Benjamin Zephaniah won the Book of the Month with Junior Education.
A moment which will remain forever in Verna's mind is when a young black girl said to her, "I always wanted to be an author but I didn't think I could be one until I met you today."
There is also a choice of board books and picture books for babies and toddlers. Tamarind biographies feature successful black people living and working in the UK today.
Tamarind Books' mission is based on the following: "We believe all children should be valued for who they are. They should live in an environment which respects their own identity, culture and heritage and they should meet people like themselves in the books they read."




  • Official Name: Grenada
  • Dependencies: Carriacou & Petite Martinique
  • Area: 3 islands, 133 sq. miles total (344 km2 )
  • Population: 108,132 (UN, 2008.)
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  • GNI per capita: US $4,670 (World Bank, 2007)
  • Current Labour Force: 40% of population
  • Literacy rate: 94%
  • Airport: Maurice Bishop International Airport (MBIA)
  • Type of State: Constitutional monarchy
  • Head of State: (Queen Elizabeth II) Sir Carlyle Glean
  • Head of Government: Dr. The Right Hon. Keith Mitchell
  • Ruling Party: National Democratic Congress (NDC)
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  • National Holiday: 7 February (1974, Independence Day)
  • Constitution: December 19, 1975

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