Award-winning author and activist, Onjali Raúf takes up the post as the new Writer in Residence for BookTrust, today, International Women’s Day. She takes over from Smriti Halls.
The BookTrust Writer/Illustrator in Residence project has been running since March 2009 and has featured several authors and illustrators including Cressida Cowell, Sita Brahmachari, Patrick Ness, Polly Dunbar, Bali Rai, Matt Haig, Laura Dockrill, Chris Riddell, Sarah McIntyre, Philip Ardagh, Taran Matharu, Nadia Shireen, Candy Gourlay, Phil Earle, Ed Vere and Smriti Halls. The residency encourages each writer or illustrator to explore topics that they are passionate about, with past residents exploring themes such as the power of stories, diversity in children’s literature and the importance of libraries.
Raúf is the founder of the NGO Making Herstory, a women’s rights organisation tackling the abuse and trafficking of women and girls in the UK and beyond. She is also the founder of O’s Refugee Aid Team, which provides support for refugee families surviving in Calais and Dunkirk. She will be using her time as BookTrust’s Writer in Residence to highlight literary inspirations related to a different issue each month – from human rights and the environment, to poverty and racism. Her plan is to introduce readers to the books that have inspired her, highlight the books which have inspired readers to take action, and share the experiences of real-life amazing people who are doing their bit locally to tackle the biggest global issues of our day.
Talking about her residency, Raúf said: ‘I have always wondered what being a ‘writer in residence’ actually means, and can hardly believe that I now get to find out thanks to the generous hearts at BookTrust – an organisation filled with so many cool bookworms, it makes being a bona fide book-anything cool too!
Receiving the gift of this residential key from the one and only Smriti Halls, I am deeply excited to be spending the next six months shining a light on those authors whose magical story-telling powers have made (and still make) me want to get up and act on an issue that matters to me deeply: issues that I hope will interest and matter deeply to you too.
And whilst I can’t wait to share the stories, both real and imaginary, that inspire me, I am also keen to expand my own horizons. Because what I really want to do, is learn from you too and hear about all the s/heroes in your neck of the woods working hard to make the world a kinder, better place to be in for all.
So come join me as of 8 March, this year’s International Women’s Day, and let’s get thinking, asking, and championing amazing books written by amazing people, together!’
Diana Gerald, CEO BookTrust said: ‘We’re so excited to welcome Onjali as our newest Writer in Residence. It’s been a hard year for children and families and we’re proud to support Onjali on her mission to encourage young activists, showcase those who are making the world a better place and get children excited about books and reading.’