St Albert’s Primary School in Glasgow is championing inclusion through the creation of short storybooks that aim to challenge diversity of characters in children’s books. The project is tackling the lack of availability of suitable titles in children’s literature by writing, illustrating, and publishing their own stories.
After doing a survey of the books in their school and local library, the pupils from St Albert’s found that almost all the books featured white characters as well as a male author, illustrator, and protagonist. Looking to inspire and empower children and community members by seeing themselves reflected in the books they read, the pupils decided to create their own stories – portraying children and personalities like themselves.
In 2020, St Albert’s Primary school launched their storybooks which were produced despite school closures, working with their author mentors over Zoom. The three books are a collection of 18 short stories called “We Can be Heroes”, where 100% of the stories features Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) characters.
This project won the Glasgow Social Enterprise Academy’s Dragons’ Den in 2021 and was awarded a National Social Enterprise Champion Award. The pupils have also put the books up for sale through their own Etsy shop – ensuring further support for their social enterprise.
The pupils are now in the second phase of their social enterprise project and have secured a grant from the Scottish Libraries and Information Council’s School Libraries Improvement Fund to continue their work in partnership with Barrowland Ballet. Together, they are looking to develop interpretive performances that bring the stories to life.
Neil McLean, CEO at Social Enterprise Academy, said: “St Albert’s Primary School has been a participant of our Social Enterprise Schools Programme for years now, and they have created such a positive change in their community. The lack of diversity in our society is a massive issue, and it’s inspirational to see these young minds come up with ideas on how to tackle matters like this.
“A fundamental component of education is encouraging young people to believe that they can make a difference in their communities and the Social Enterprise Schools programme helps bring that to life. It’s exciting to see their ideas turned into innovative social enterprises.”
Shirley-Anne Brightman, Principal Teacher at St Albert’s Primary School and writing project lead, said: “The pupils, parents, writers and illustrators who have collaborated on these stories are all determined to create positive change through this project. All our stakeholders from the Scottish BAME Writers Network to the Scottish Book Trust have been fantastic. The St. Albert’s motto is ‘Creating Conscience-led Communities’ and this social enterprise work is just one strand of the issue-based work we champion.”
Nadine Cohen, St. Albert’s Social Enterprise lead, said: “The team at the Social Enterprise Academy have supported us and given the children much deserved recognition for their work. Helping our pupils develop their passion for creating the change they want to see within our local community is at the very heart of our culturally responsive curriculum at St. Albert’s, and it’s a privilege to help them to realise their potential and action their ideas.”
For more information on how to get involved in the Social Enterprise Schools programme, please visit: https://www.socialenterprise.academy/scot/social-enterprise-schools