October is Black British History month, and a very important topic of discussion in our household all year round. I was born and raised in South Africa until the age of 8, and spent my primary and secondary education studying in Scotland. However even to this day I am not that familiar with black British history which isn’t ideal when it’s something that I want to educate my two mixed-race daughters about.
This is where the book ‘Where Are You From?’ has been really helpful. The author, Sally Penni is a Manchester mum and barrister. She was inspired to write the book after witnessing the horrid racist abuse directed towards footballers Rashford, Sancho and Saka during England’s Euro’s final and she wanted to bring out a book for school kids celebrating black culture.
What I love is that Sally has included people who we might not have heard of before alongside some better known black figures in history. There are familiar figures such as Lewis Hamilton and Diane Abbott, and lesser known figures for children such as Britain’s first black policewoman, Sislin Faye Allen and the remarkable Harriet Tubman.
Interestingly not all the figured included are black, Sally gives a mention to the white female workers in the mills of Rochdale who refused to handle a slave grown cotton mill in the mid-19th century. There are also a few pages dedicated to inspirational black figures from outside of the UK.
The book is illustrated beautifully by Julian D Penni and the book is written in a way which is easy to read for kids, Amber loved the ‘Did you know?’ sections throughout the book. There are also prompts to find out more on various sections which we enjoyed. Amber loves researching people and places so that was something which she had fun with.
Towards the end of the book are recommendations for further reading and activities which can be done at home or in school. Thankfully we received the book just in time for half-term, so we’ll be spending some time this week on these.
As a family we adored this book, I am South African and I am always sharing my experience of apartheid with Amber but it is so important for her to learn about black British history, and this book has given me the tools and information to do so. My only hope is that schools add black British history to their curriculum ,not just for one month a year.
Where are you from? is available from Amazon .