Based in the school’s library, the Black History Month quiz trail challenges students to investigate Black literary history before reading a work from the array of fiction, poetry, essays and memoirs written by Black authors that on offer on the bookshelves there. Students will be publishing reviews of their selections over the coming weeks in order to inspire other girls to read them too.
Writers explored include Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ralph Ellison, Bell Hooks, Alex Haley, Maya Angelou, Ta-Nehsi Coates, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Colson Whitehead and Bernadine Evaristo to name but a few.
The initiative was organised by Mrs Freya Woodruff, School Librarian and English Teacher. It is the first of many for the library which has also just launched a brand-new essay writing competition. This month, students have been challenged to discuss the Black Lives Matter movement.
The project complements work that happens throughout the year and for girls of all ages on a wide range of texts exploring thematic concerns of race, class, poverty, injustice, inequality, immigration, gender, religious and cultural differences. Writers covered include Grace Nichols, Imtiaz Dharker, Benjamin Zephaniah, John Agard, Niyi Osundare, Edward Kamau Braithwaite and Sujata Bhatt.
Director of Teaching and Learning and English teacher, Mrs Jo House said: “Projects like this are fantastic and broaden the Literature offering we have here even further. We have quite a rich and varied curriculum so the project has enabled girls to make connections and to remind them about authors they’ve previously encountered in class.”
“It’s not just a celebration, it’s about being aware of difficult issues and confronting them. Some of the girls started reading books by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith and they got to a really difficult part in the novel that was really quite confronting just in the first ten pages, and they looked uncomfortable and we talked about it.”
“That’s the power of literature to deal with some of these issues about identity, race, class and gender and open up discussion in a really enriching and educational way. It’s prompted lots of discussion from the girls which is really at the heart of helping them to challenge injustice when they see or hear it.”