SCROLL DOWN TO READ MY STORY AND TO SEE SOME LOVELY PHOTOS...
BOOK LOVE, THE MULTICULTURAL TRAVELLING BOOK CARNIVAL GIVING AWAY A "BOOKLOVE-IN-A-BOX" FULL OF FREE MULTICULTURAL BOOKS AND DOLLS !
WHY I DO WHAT I DO ////////////////////////
Our children, young people AND grown-ups need access to books with a range of cultures, stories and languages. Now more than ever, we need this! But the problem is school Headteachers and staff express there's no budget to fill their reading corners with these essential books due to government cuts etc, which means everyone is missing out.
(I expand on this further down) Yes there is a bigger conversation to have with Government about funding, but whilst that big structural fight is happening, our young people are still not accessing the books they need, with characters that look like them.
The absence of easy-to-access multicultural content is leading to so many problems in UK schools with children feeling excluded and neglected, with their sense of belonging being affected, leading to low self-esteem, low-level interest in reading and so much more.
There will invariably be HUGE GAPS in their learning and they will leave school with a deficit in a bigger understanding of the wider world and how to negotiate in it.
For years I have dragged suitcases into school playgrounds and halls, loaded boxes into taxis, begged friends for lifts to try and correct this problem, with one goal - to make these books as accessible as possible. I have been battered in snow storms, lost books in the rain and but nothing will stop me from getting these books in to the hands of children and adults everywhere.
When counting up books in classrooms and not seeing a wide representation on the pages looking back at me, when the classrooms are totally multicultural, I know I have to do something.
However with such sad unforgivable statistics around the ridiculously low number of books published in the UK, with Black and Brown children in them, I am not surprised bookshelves are so white!
I know I can do something to improve this situation. These teachers want me to do more for them and I want to do more for these teachers.
////////////////WHY NOW? /////////////////// IT'S NOW OR NEVER!! ////
We cannot wait for governments to change policies, adjust the curriculum or change recommended reading lists and neither can we wait for schools to find budgets.
Although this is IMPERATIVE, it's a VERY long structural process and these teachers and children need these books NOW so I am taking matters in to my own hands and I need your help!
Between us we have the power to do it and I promise I won't let you down!
1. I want to give a Free ONE-OFF "Book Love in a Box" to as many school/educational/childcare settings as possible from nursery up to University level. The "BookLove-In-a-Box" will contain a selection of age appropriate multicultural+bilingual books, dolls and flags for their classroom. Please help me to raise the funds to do this!
2. I want to find #BookLoveAmbassadors which can be parents, carers, teaching staff who make a commitment to making sure these books are used and not shoved in a cupboard and forgotten about.
3. I want to conduct a survey in to the amount of multicultural books there are in schools currently. This will be a long term project and is a massive undertaking, but it's one I am ready for.
How can we fix the problem if we don't know where to start or what we are currently dealing with.
Schools and Educators need these books now - help me to give these children and young people the resources they DESERVE!!!
I have always been acutely aware from a young age, that when I looked around me, in the books I read, or in the TV programmes and movies I watched as a child, that not many people ever looked like me.
Growing up in 1970s Essex and being at the receiving end of racist name calling was no unusual thing, not for me and not for many other Black and Brown people.
I vividly recall my teacher saying to me that I could not be the Angel in the nativity play because I didn't have blonde hair or blue eyes. The racism and prejudice was rife and became very normal. I have never forgotten that.
Then came Barbados where I went to school from the age of 9 to 18 and my lived experience there was completely different from what I knew in my early Essex years.
I was surrounded by Black and Brown people who were running the country and I experienced what it felt to be surrounded by people from all racial backgrounds in positions of power. They were my role models!
I returned to England at the age of 18 to attend a very white university space where I became that 9 year old in Essex again. I then entered a very white TV workforce and felt like that 9 year old again. There was no representation and after years of fighting battles in TV, I walked away, because trying to make change in TV felt like a losing battle - nobody listened or cared, that's how it felt.
Fast forward a few years - I had children, they started school and I became that 9 year old again, when they came home from school with books that didn't include many multicultural stories or characters.
This time, I had to do something and I knew this time I had to fight the system and I wasn't going to stop - not just for my own children, but for my whole community - children and adults alike!
I approached teachers and asked them why this was happening. I asked if I could count the amount of multicultural books in their classrooms to see if they were inclusive and I was shocked and very sad when I saw the results.
When I explained my frustrations to the teachers, they looked forlorn, stressed and embarrassed. They knew I was right, but there was nothing they felt they could do - they had no money, no budget, no time, some didn't know where to find them and some hadn't even noticed.
I made noise! I wanted to do something! On me advising them to speak to the managers about the problems, they were reluctant, as did not want to appear to be a "Troublemaker".
This was a serious systemic problem and our children and young people were the ones suffering at the hands of it. It had to stop and that's how "Book Love The Multicultural Travelling Book Carnival" was born! A carnival of Adult and children's books, traveling around the country to educate, inform and raise awareness around the lack of Culturally inclusive and bilingual books in schools and and on the high street, by taking the bookshop on the road into communities everywhere!
I first started visiting schools in 2015 to read stories. It developed into book carnivals where I would take music, flags and multicultural books into schools as part of the BookLove movement and everyone loved it, however, the problems of actually getting these books into the classrooms still arose. The parents and teachers were excited to have me there, but there was no money in the school budget to buy the books they badly needed for the shelves.
However at events or market stalls, teachers would be buying books and not asking for receipts. This meant they had no intention of claiming it back, from the school budget because there was no budget. They were paying for the books out of their own pockets!
I vow to never stop working for change and improvement in education. Representation and inclusion means everything to me. Those who never see themselves, find themselves at Thisisbooklove.com and that is what I am about.
Thank you for taking the time to read and thanks for your support,
Peace and "Book" Love!
@thisisbooklove - Twitter
- Tom Head
- Yvonne Dillon
- Sara Kassam
- Emma Hammersley
London, Greater London, United Kingdom