Writing on the Wall (WoW) has launched a new book in direct response to the lack of diversity in the curriculum literature.
Their book (Super Heroes: Diverse Stories for a Diverse World) aims to defend a diverse and inclusive representation through their project Super Heroes: Words are our Power.
The project, now in its third year of implementation, aims to build confidence, resilience and agency among all young people in Liverpool.
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The book was launched in eight primary schools in Toxteth and across town: St. Michael & All Angels Elementary School.
Other primary schools in the launch are; Broad Square, Banks Road, St Cleopas, Blackmoor Park Junior School, Leamington, Springwood Heath and Holy Cross Catholic Primary.
Super Heroes: Diverse Stories for a Diverse World was made possible after WoW teamed up with nationally renowned writers such as; Amina Atiq, Yvonne Battle-Felton, Ashleigh Nugent, Helen Dring-Turner, Nathan Powell, Alex Swan, Katie and Kevin Tsang, Alan Gibbons, Cheryl Martin, Marie Basting, Jon Mayhew, Emme Lathan and Claire L. Heuchan.
WoW Co-Directors Madeline Heneghan and Mike Morris said, âIn all aspects of their lives, children live in a diverse world.
“However, this diversity is not reflected in their reading material. It is essential that books reflect the world we live in to promote a healthier mindset, challenge racism and celebrate diversity.”
When it comes to representation in literature, the Center for Literacy in Primary Education found that only 7% of children’s books published in the UK between 2017 and 2019 featured characters of color.
Stephanie Leech, a teacher at Leamington Community Elementary School, said: “ Seeing heroes from all walks of life is essential for all readers. To have heroes and main characters in the books, they can relate to (in) accent, ethnicity, origins, and even hair.
“We want to inspire our children to write compelling stories and children with English as an additional language to use their mother tongue speech in the stories and to use their culture and traditions to inspire the characters.”
Writer Ashleigh Nugent said: “At school, no one in the books looked like me, nor the authors. Everyone was white, equally able-bodied. Neurodiversity and special educational needs were never discussed.
“It creates the illusion that only white, able-bodied people matter (and) they alone have had an impact on the world.
âThis is nonsense. Now is the time to move on. Superheroes help kids feel proud of anything that makes them above average, to understand the importance of diversity and to be passionate about the power of words “.
Amina Atiq, designer and educator said: âI was passionate about literature and language. However, I have experienced reading stories where you cannot hear or see each other which isolates you.
âIt is more than ever important that our children live diverse stories that represent them and their environment. As a creative educator and writer, I am delighted to see our children read stories and poetry written by various writers from all over Liverpool â.
A fifth grader at Leamington Community Elementary School said, âIt taught me that instead of judging someone for their appearance … look deep inside yourself and see what power they have. have and how talented they are. “
A fifth grade student from Holy Cross Catholic Elementary School said, âI think the book is important because it shows how unique and different we are from others. It is not a crime if you are different. It is better if you are different from others.
Liverpool Mayor Joanne Anderson said: âA powerful celebration of diversity and a reflection of the richness it creates in our region.
âEach story contains subtle but deep messages, encouraging children to question their perceptions and think more broadly about the world. I know that anyone who reads these stories will take away valuable ideas and lessons – and even might. come to recognize their own special superpowers! “
The book will be the culmination of four years of work in many Liverpool schools and the anthology contains stories, poems and illustrations promoting diversity, inclusion and celebration of our different identities.
The overall objective is to change the narrative around representation in literature and to offer new and diverse characters to all children.
Super Heroes: Words are our Power is a four-year (2019 – 2022) project, funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation’s More and Better Fund, exploring new creative writing strategies for elementary schools.
Using the superhero characters as a force for change, they help children use their imaginations through creative writing, play, and storytelling, while helping teachers bring creativity back into the curriculum.
The book will be available to the general public in January 2022 and for more information visit the Writing on the Wall website.