Lenny Henry releases new children’s book starring a black superhero

ITV News Arts Editor Nina Nannar visits a school in London where children were given a preview of Sir Lenny Henry's new book read by the author himself.

Actor and comedian Sir Lenny Henry has turned his talents elsewhere, namely writing a children’s book.

His new book, The Boy with Wings, stars a young, black superhero that Henry says he could only have dreamed of as a 12-year-old boy.

The children of St Barnabas primary school in London were given a preview of the book, illustrated by Keenon Ferrell, and a chance to question the author himself.

"I wrote this book because when I was your age, there were no books that had people like me in them - so nobody that was black, or came from Jamaica, or anything like that," Henry told young fans.

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In the story, the hero Tunde, is black, adopted and can sprout wings to take on the bullies.

"And he also learns how to make friends, and how to stand up for himself at school, and these things are important to know and to learn about," Henry told ITV News’ Nina Nannar.

For Henry, the themes of the story stem from his childhood experiences.

"It took me ages to learn how to stick up for myself with the bullies. I was racially abused for a period at school, for quite a long time, and I had to learn how to defend myself with jokes and with humour," he said.

The comic said that reading a book about Tunde when he was a little boy at school would have made a difference for him.

"If I’d read a story about a kid called Tunde at my school it would have made me go: ‘I want to be a superhero too!'".

His love of reading as a child came from visiting the local library he said, encouraged by his aunt.

Now, he said, libraries are as important as ever and every child should have access to books.

"Libraries need to be supported in our communities. Don’t shut them down, open them up," he said.

"They have access to computers, to storytelling, to creativity, to people who know stuff, and our communities need people who know stuff, and our kids need to be able to approach people who know stuff and say: ‘Where do I get a book about...? Where do I find a story about…? How do I find out a story about my origins?’

"This is what libraries are for, and to close them down just seems like a big mistake to me," he added.