'Representation matters' youth library celebrates black stories and authors

Funmi Akinriboya, founder of the BME Suffolk Support Group, has started a youth library

Funmi Akinriboya, founder of the BME Suffolk Support Group, has started a youth library - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

A black and minority ethnic youth library has been launched by an Ipswich group to ensure children see themselves represented in history books and stories.

Funmi Akinriboya, founder of the BME Suffolk Support Group, came up with the idea after seeing her children fail to identify with any characters or stories in the books they read at school.

"The population in this country is getting more diverse and yet our children's history is completely omitted in school, aside from discussing slavery," Miss Akinriboya said.

Some of the books on offer at the BME youth library

Some of the books on offer at the BME youth library - Credit: Funmi Akinriboya

"They need to know where their ancestors came from and how they came to live here, so they can grow up and become adults who are aware of who they are.

"That is one of the things I want to do, bridge the gap of knowledge because what you read is what you believe — there is more to black culture than just slavery, we have kings, queens, music, tradition and culture."

One of her four children who attend schools in Ipswich came home after learning about Remembrance Day, asking where the non-white soldiers were and why their role in the wars hadn't been acknowledged.

Some of the books on offer at the BME youth library

Some of the books on offer at the BME youth library - Credit: Funmi Akinriboya

This sparked the idea for the library and then Suffolk Community Foundation donated £500 in funding to kickstart the project.

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The youth library is not only filled with books about BME children, stories and families, but also champions diverse authors.

"We can change the perspective of the younger generation now," founder Miss Akinriboya added.

"The government haven't stepped in to change the school curriculum despite the fact we've been calling for change for years, so the community has stepped up instead.

Some of the books on offer at the BME youth library

Some of the books on offer at the BME youth library - Credit: Funmi Akinriboya

"We have a long way to go to ensure history does not repeat itself and people suffer without knowledge — if you never see yourself being represented anywhere how do you think it feels?

"This is not just for young black children, this is to bridge the gap and bring us all together."

The group welcomes young people across all communities to reach out to them on 07492 691190 or info@bmesuffolk.org and borrow books from the library to learn more about different communities.

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