A literature campaign to provide children with a range of books about race, disability, LQBTQ and other areas where people may face adversity or discrimination is gathering momentum in Ramsgate.
Ramsgate Books for Change is being spearheaded by two parents and a teacher with the aim of raising around £800 to add to the stock of reading material in the libraries at Ramsgate Arts Primary and Chilton Primary.
They are Estelle Rosenfeld, a parent at RAPS; Emma Dondi-Smith, a Chilton parent; and Sophie Spurrier, a teacher who is Reading Leader at RAPS.
They say: “We believe in the power of our children and these books have the power to bring change into the classroom and into the world.”
Estelle explained: “It has been heart-warming to see an increased interest in anti-racism movements and how well attended the Black Lives Matter demonstrations were in Thanet. However, there is also a concern that it could just be a flash in the pan and that soon enough the social media hype will disappear.
“Then I saw Folkestone Books for Change initiative and started to think I could reproduce it here in Thanet. Bringing diversity into our school libraries is something tangible to ensure some long lasting changes.
“We are a very mixed family and I want my children to be able to see themselves in the books they read at school. I also want them to be able to see people who are different from them, whether it is because they have a different heritage or skin colour, or because they have two mums, or a disability. I want them to see humanity in all its diversity and feel comfortable to stand up against discrimination.”
Emma agreed and said: “As a mum of two, I have been moved watching the anti-racist protests taking place at the moment around the world and wondered what I could do to help. How could I make meaningful and lasting change from home, during a pandemic?
“We aim to raise enough funds to supply two Ramsgate schools with books that represent the lives of children who attend the schools, the families and communities that they come from and other lives they might not know at all. When children see themselves represented in the stories they read, they know that their stories and experiences are important and valid.”
Sophie said: “’Race and Racism can often be a difficult subject to tackle for parents and for teachers. We can feel unsure of how to answer the questions, we may feel uneasy and often avoid the challenge.
“At Ramsgate Arts Primary School we feel it both necessary and significant to find the courage to speak to young people about inequality and racism that communities and individuals can face.
“For this reason, we have decided to raise £800 to provide both Ramsgate Arts Primary and Chilton Primary with a range of books about race, disability, LQBTQ and other areas where people may face adversity or discrimination. This will enable our children to see themselves represented in books and start the change within our schools in Ramsgate.
“Through the Ramsgate Books for Change project we have put together a wish list of books for all ages and if we raise enough money, these will be bought for both schools and displayed in the libraries for our children to access at all times.”
Response has been encouraging with around £600 raised to date – if enough money is raised, the aim is to expand the book resources into other Ramsgate schools.
Last month Ramsgate Arts Primary pledged to help children and families tackle, understand and explain racism. It has vowed to ensure respect for diversity is embedded in everything it does and it will become a part of the School Improvement Plan and will involve governors, teachers, parents and children, the whole community.
Head of School Nick Budge said: “Our school campaign is well underway with online information, help and resources at our website.
“The Ramsgate Books for Change project is excellent and it ties in with what we are doing at RAPS.
“The books project will provide diverse reading that will widen the scope of informative, interesting and educational literature for our children, those at Chilton primary and hopefully other schools in the town. It is a campaign that is very worthy of support.”
To support the campaign, see the Facebook page Ramsgate Books for Change; or go to the go fund me page here.