SCHOOLCHILDREN from Girlington are behind a new book created to empower female BAME pupils with its relatable story and character.

Girlington Primary School worked on the collaborative project with Leeds Beckett University (LBU) as part of The Story Makers Press, based within the Carnegie School of Education at LBU, which played a key role in helping pupils shape the characters and bring their story to life.

Zalfa Emir Is A Warrior follows a strong female character single-handedly defeating evil forces through sheer determination - and a little bit of magic.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

The aim of the project was to increase confidence in female BAME pupils by co-creating a story they could relate to.

Undergraduate students worked closely with year five pupils as part of a push to publish underrepresented narratives, making sure that every child can see themselves in the books they read.

A lack of representative narratives in children’s fiction has been recently evidenced by the Reflecting Realities report, which states that only four per cent of children’s books published in 2018 included a BAME protagonist.

The new book which will be the subject of a virtual launch on May 23.

The Story Makers Press is also led by Lisa Stephenson, drama specialist and worldbuilder, Dr Tom Dobson, creative writing expert and resident writer, and Ana Arêde, publisher.

Lisa, who is also MA Drama & Creative Writing in Education Course Leader at LBU, said: “The main aim of the project was to raise confidence in the girls by co-creating a story with them which had characters that they could relate to.

“We wanted to create a story with the girls in which the main protagonist was aspirational, with a strong sense belief in herself.

“All children need to see themselves in the stories that they read, it makes them feel valued. There is a lack of stories which represent all children.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus:

Following the success of their first published book, The Nightmare Catcher, the Story Makers Press were on the lookout for a new group of Story Makers and were last year contacted by Girlington Primary School.

It was the perfect opportunity for the Story Makers Press to retell a South Asian folktale by working with pupils across eight world and story building sessions.

Interestingly, the female school pupils chose a mixture of comedy and horror as a genre for their story.

Illustrations for the book were completed by Leanne Bell while another LBU student, Serina Kulemeka, created a dynamic design to help to bring the story to life.

Lead author, Juwairiyaah Ali, who is also a student at the University, helped to shape Zalfa’s strong character and story.

She said: “I am proud to have been given this opportunity to write for Story Makers. It’s been a brilliant journey.

“The girls of Girlington had this vibrant energy and imagination which I loved and really wanted to capture in the story.

“Girls of Girlington – you are the warriors. And you’re definitely not little.”