In September, Central Library played host to Manchester’s leg of the Black British Book Festival 2023 tour. Now in its third year, the festival stands as one of the largest gatherings of its kind celebrating Black literature and featuring author talks, workshops and children’s storytelling. Conceived by Selina Brown, an award winning, self-published children’s author, this festival responds to the barriers new and established Black British authors encounter in publishing. It serves as a testament to the richness and diversity of voices within the Black literary community.
The tour gave an opportunity for local authors to showcase their talents and the Sunday Funday was jam packed with amazing talks from Manchester-based Jackie Kay, Danielle Jawando, Kimberley Whittam and many more. Young author Lauryn Rose Tiexeira was there to promote her book about the journey of a powerful African girl, written when she was aged nine. Read Manchester were proud to be one of the many exhibitors on the day, chatting to festival attendees about the importance of representation and inclusivity in books.
Read Manchester’s See Myself in Books is an ongoing campaign to raise the profile of ethnic diversity and inclusivity in the books children read. Attendees of the festival had the chance to win book bundles by sharing their perspectives on why it’s essential for children to see themselves and their lives mirrored in books. The responses were both heartfelt and powerful, emphasising the profound impact of representation – the power of being seen, not feeling alone and how it fosters a sense of belonging and empowerment.
When you see a world that includes you, you feel more at ease navigating the world. Esther.
Diversity representation is important as it allows young people to feel seen, heard and appreciated. Adina
As part of growing up, identity is so important. Children need to be their authentic selves. To see themselves and their lives reflected in books is a basic right for all children. Annette
To form a good sense of belonging and reaffirm their sense of identity. Rochelle
The Black British Book Festival is a beacon for celebrating the richness of diverse narratives and highlighting the transformative potential of stories, shaping young minds and fostering a more inclusive literary landscape.
Black voices; black experiences matter, not just for this generation but for generations to come. Selina Brown, Black British Book Festival (shortlisted Leader of the Year #FutureBook23)
Read Manchester is a partnership between Manchester City Council and the National Literacy Trust to improve literacy skills and promote the benefits of reading for pleasure. The See Myself in Books Campaign aims to vary literary resources in primary schools, find out more about the campaign here.