Refugee novel to inform Manchester schools resource on underrepresented stories

29 March 2021 - News

Manchester partnership will develop teaching inspired by A.M. Dassu’s Boy, Everywhere

A new city-wide initiative will develop a teaching resource for schools based on an acclaimed novel that chronicles the harrowing journey of a teen refugee.

Read Manchester and Manchester Children’s Books Festival (MCBF) at Manchester Metropolitan University, will develop a programme to support schools in their teaching and highlighting of under-represented narratives through a project centred around the novel Boy, Everywhere by A.M. Dassu, published by Old Barn Books.

The programme will fund copies of the book for schools, events for children to meet the author, and provide resources to support schools in their teaching of the issues raised in the novel. Boy, Everywhere chronicles the harrowing journey taken from Syria to the UK by teen refugee Sami and his family. From privilege to poverty, across countries and continents, from a smuggler’s den in Turkey to a prison in Manchester.

Resources are being developed in partnership with Levenshulme High School, before being launched on April 22 at a virtual event for teachers with the author. Attendees will receive a copy of the resource, and Greater Manchester schools will be invited to apply for author workshops and sets of the book to use in the classroom.

A. M. Dassu said: “I am so thrilled to be working with the children of Manchester, not only because I used to live in this brilliant, vibrant city which has a piece of my heart, but also because Sami’s own journey ends in Greater Manchester, which has had one of the highest numbers of asylum seekers in the country and has been one of the key cities to host them upon arrival to the U.K.

It is also poignant to be exploring the themes in Boy, Everywhere 10 years after the uprising began in Syria, which led to an unforeseen civil war in which millions of Syrians were displaced to surrounding regions and around the world to start again as refugees. I hope Sami’s story will encourage discussion, challenge stereotypes and help build empathy in our increasingly fractured society.”

Read Manchester is committed to engaging local children with books and stories to encourage them to make reading a priority in their everyday lives.

Councillor Luthfur Rahman OBE, Manchester City Council’s Executive Member for Skills, Culture and Leisure, said:

“Ensuring children take the first steps to gain the confidence to read is crucial. This can be done by guaranteeing children read about subjects they can relate to and are interested in.

Many children in Manchester have come from a variety of different backgrounds and the story of finding belonging is one everyone can relate to.

Manchester is proud of its rich diversity and heritage, it is what makes it so wonderfully unique as a city. This wonderful story brings to life the journeys many of our residents have made to call Manchester home.”

The programme will launch on 22nd April with a virtual event with A.M. Dassu to introduce teachers to the book and the teaching resources, and will culminate on 14th July when participating children will have chance to showcase their work from across the term.

Kaye Tew, Director of Manchester Children’s Book Festival at Manchester Metropolitan University, said:

“This book and the resource we are creating with teacher, Sajeda Amir from Levenshulme High, offer an opportunity for young people and the adults who work with them, to gain empathy, through reading, discussing, re-thinking and challenging common misconceptions about what refugees experience and what they have left behind.”