Commonword Children’s Diversity Writing Prize Award Ceremony, Tuesday 3rd July, 5 – 6:30pm, MMU Geoffrey Manton Building
Words and Photographs by Sanam Mohseni, Ezat Khan and Zainab Shafique
We are here to attend the Commonword Children’s Diversity Writing Prize Award Ceremony as part of this year’s MCBF. As we enter the Geoffrey Manton building, we can sense a buzz in the air and a very positive atmosphere from those waiting for the ceremony to begin and the winner to be announced. The main purpose of the event is to celebrate cultural and ethnic diversity in children’s fiction.
The spark for the evening was lit by a writer called Peter Kalu.
Peter introduces the event by remembering the bad old days of 20 years ago, when children’s literature did not reflect society in the UK . It’s hard to imagine that Black, Asian or Mixed race children would not be able to find themselves in stories and poetry. It must have been very difficult to engage with literature when your culture or ethnicity was never reflected in it.
The purpose of setting up projects like the Commonword Competition is to encourage writers to include representations of the diversity that exists in cities like Manchester. It is also a way to make people aware that diversity is relevant, as it is very important to respect the people around you no matter what nationality, what background, or what ethnicity they belong to.
The Commonword competition is a national project supported by the Penguin Publishing Company
and the Arts Council, awarding prizes to authors who write for children of all nationalities. There were 49 entries judged by a panel of 4 people from the world of writing and publishing. The entries were then shortlisted to 4 excellent works of fiction.
Finally the winner is announced, received by gasps and cheers from the audience. Her name is Gaylene Gould. Here she is receiving her prize.
Gaylene’s book is soon to be published and we can’t wait to read it! It’s called The Sacrifice, and it tells the story of three generations of Caribbean women, and their experience of teenage years and developing their sexual identity.
As the event comes to and end we are lucky enough to meet Gaynor and congratulate her on the success of her book. We loved attending this event and we hope more projects like this will support, and celebrate, diversity in children’s writing.
Sanam Mohseni, Ezat Khan and Zainab Shafique are Sixth Form students from Manchester Academy.