Winsome Duncan launched the “Look Like Me Book Challenge CIC” in 2019 to help teach young people literacy and social skills.
October 27, 2022
The publishing house owner says seeing budding young authors working on books with characters that look like them has made her “really emotional” because the literature will serve as a legacy that will represent their “amazing” ideas. “.
Winsome Duncan, who is based in Bermondsey and is the owner of publishing house Peaches Publications Ltd, launched the ‘Look Like Me Book Challenge CIC’ in October 2019 – a charity that supports young people aged between seven and 18 across the UK with their literacy, creative writing, storytelling, peer mentoring and social skills, as well as teaching about the role diversity plays in the publishing industry.
After reading the Reflecting Realities report in 2019, which she said mentioned that less than 10% of children’s books in the UK had black, Asian or minority ethnic characters, she said she felt compelled to try to change the narrative of the British publishing industry by having black and brown characters in her books.
“I am deeply saddened that inanimate objects are more likely to present than a black and brown face, animals are more likely to present than a black or brown face,” the 45-year-old told the agency. press release, during Black History. Month.
“When I read this it provided the impetus to launch the ‘Look Like Me Book Challenge CIC’ and our mission is truly to provide safe spaces for creative expression, telling the experiences of those in groups under -represented and marginalized, especially young people, with a broader intention to leave a mark of legacies in British literature.
The first intergenerational book made as part of the challenge during the first lockdown was The Popcorn House – Teamwork Makes The Dream Work, which is about “two superhero cousins Zion and Neveah who through teamwork discover the magical land of Kalaria while staying with their beloved grandparents to lodge”.
It received contributions from 30 authors online, who were “these budding young authors were full of amazing character ideas and storytelling concepts,” Ms Duncan said.
“We had so much fun – we went for a photoshoot in Canary Wharf. From this cohort, four of these young people over the past three years have been our Youth Ambassadors and some of them are even business owners .
She added that the “next phase is now working on securing investment in our pilot 3D animation trailer in a series for ‘The Popcorn House'”.
A group of young authors are also publishing an Afro-Caribbean-inspired manga-style comic called Ashe The Justice Warrior, which focuses on racism in football and how young people can better manage their health. mental state and their well-being.
“We worked with young people aged 13 to 18 and we had a group of 32 young people online and two of them were footballers playing in the amateur league – one was a boy and the other was a girl” , Ms. Duncan said.
“These characters are at the heart of the comic – which has an Afro-Caribbean influence – and what’s interesting about the comic is that once they read it, they will have the opportunity to create and design their own comic afterwards.
“What we want to do is nurture talent, we want people to generate their own ideas and be seen in pop culture and we couldn’t have done this type of work without the support of the National Lottery Awards for All and UnLtd.”
Ms Duncan said guiding young people through the publishing process has been “really inspiring and motivating for creating legacy authors” and produced many tears of happiness.
“I cried so many times because my story matters, their story matters, our stories matter,” she said.
“I’m a melanin woman and I feel like the world needs to hear all of their creative ideas from children of color and it’s imperative for me to fulfill my destiny to be a creative force for good and to help young BAME authors to become visible in the traditional media.
“It will allow them to reach their potential, so they can continue to write more number 1 bestselling books and create images that portray them in a positive light as part of the characters they create.”
She added that working on books has also helped “boost their confidence, increase their self-esteem, improve their public presentation skills, and provide them with acting and media opportunities” and made them feel to “be part of a team”.
“And that’s why it’s so important to me to get these authors to leave their legacy in the books and tell their stories.”