To celebrate the Festival of Libraries and our recently launched See Myself in Books collection, Manchester Libraries and Read Manchester held a special Sunday Funday on June 19th. We also invited authors with a Black and minority ethnic background to talk to school classes over the duration of the Festival, and had a wonderful variety of events, including the award-winning A.M. Dassu talking to 660 pupils online about her books ‘Fight Back’ and ‘Boy, Everywhere’, with themes of prejudice, standing together and how it feels to be a refugee fleeing your own country.

Some great feedback from our A.M Dassu sessions included a teacher who told us ‘I can say that some students who have never taken a book out of our school library, have now taken ‘Boy, Everywhere’ and are looking forward to her new book ‘Fight Back’.

We also held sessions with Maisie Chan, prizewinning author of ‘Danny Chung Does Not Do Maths’ who joined us online to speak to 810 pupils in 17 schools. Feedback from the sessions included:

‘It encouraged them to talk about books. Some of them now also want to write their own book,’ whilst another told us ‘I thought it was great. Maisie was fun and engaging. It was particularly good how she spoke of her own heritage and upbringing.’

We were joined by author KP Kojo in person at Avenue Library to share the inspiration behind his book, Tales from Africa, the influence of Ghanaian stories on his own writing, and the role of folktales to show us who we are. He also explored with the children the reasons why it’s important that we can see ourselves in the books that we read.

Our programming for schools will continue to reflect the voices of a wider range of authors to appeal to children across the city. Read Manchester will also continue to donate mini libraries of 25 books for primary schools featuring a range of ethnically diverse authors and book characters.

On the day of the Funday, we had over 1100 people visiting Central Library and children took part in a range of crafts including making pop-up books and a huge ‘Book of Us’ plus face painting. Storyteller Carla Henry enthralled families by telling a range of stories in our storytelling tent, including books from our See Myself in Books List. Children were able to take away a book of their choice from the collection to keep.

We were also joined by Lord Mayor of Manchester Councillor Donna Ludford and Councillor Sean McHale who had a great time talking to the children and joining in with the crafts!