Read Manchester’s third year of the transition read is now underway. Following two successful years reading the humourous The Kid Who Came From Space by Ross Welford, a new title has been chosen. The award-winning author, Onjali Q Rauf has been chosen as our author and her brilliant book, The Lion Above the Door is being given to every year 6 pupil in Manchester. That’s 7,500 books for 144 primary schools!

The Lion Above the Door’s story covers themes about friendships, fitting in and family and fits in with Read Manchester’s See Myself in Books campaign which champions representation in books:

“Leo and his best friend Sangeeta are the odd ones out in their school. But as Leo’s dad is always telling him it’s because they’re special. Only thing is, if they’re so special, how come they never see anyone who looks like them in their school history books? Then, on a class trip to a nearby cathedral, Leo’s attention is drawn to a large marble slab high above the doors of the hall. Right there, bang in the middle of a list of war heroes, Leo finds himself staring at something incredible: his own name. Desperate to know who this other Leo was, the two friends embark on a search. And together, they begin to uncover missing stories from the past, ones which they are determined to put back into their rightful place in the pages of history. Touching on themes of historical racism, The Lion Above the Door shines a light on the stories our history books have yet to contain and the power of friendships that can last through generations.”

Children in Year 6 will be given the opportunity to read the story and take part in activities both at school and at home. It will be used by many high schools as part of their transition programme between primary and high school and gives pupils a shared experience, no matter which high school they go to in September. Read Manchester will be hosting online sessions with Onjali Rauf and Year 7 pupils in the autumn term. Pupils in Special Schools will also receive a copy of the book and an additional title from the See Myself in Books list – My Skin, Your Skin by Laura Henry-Allain.

Pupils are also invited to enter a StoryStarter competition which will be judged by Onjali Rauf:

‘As I stared down at the torn out pages, I began to ask myself why…’

Write a story beginning with this line and email to by 30 September 2022 with your name, the name of your primary school and the name of your high school. Onjali Q. Raúf will judge the stories, and the winners will be announced in October. Find this and more ideas of fun things to do based on the book.

The Lion Above the Door is also available to borrow from Manchester Libraries.

Onjali Q Rauf with her book at the National Cycle Centre.
Photograph taken by Mark Waugh

Further information about the author: Onjali Q Rauf is also the founder of Making Herstory, an organisation mobilising men, women and children from all walks of life to tackle the abuse and trafficking of women and girls in the UK and beyond. In her spare time, she delivers emergency aid convoys for refugee families surviving in Calais and Dunkirk.

Read an interview with the author on the BookTrust website.