JUNE 22 MARKS the inaugural Windrush Day, which will celebrate the pioneering Windrush Generation.
Various events are taking place across the country, as Britain recognises the important contribution of those who travelled from the Caribbean to Britain in June 1948 to help it rebuild after the Second World War.
It promises to be a joyous day of intergenerational educational celebrations aimed at keeping the Windrush legacy alive for future generations. But while the event is important for this reason, there is a growing recognition of the need for all-ages educational products aimed at young people to help them understand the signi cance of the Windrush Generation and the role they played in helping create the multicultural, diverse Britain that we know today.
Although considered an important event in modern Brit- ish history, there have been, surprisingly, very few chil- dren’s books written about the Windrush Generation. It’s a need that book publishers are responding to. Among the recent successful books about the Windrush Generation aimed at children is Kan- dace Chimbiri’s The Story of the Windrush.
Chimbiri, a noted author of black history books for children, combines historical fact with voices from the Windrush Generation. The book tells the inspiring story of the pioneering migrants in an age-appropriate and positive way. And the story is told through the life of Sam King, the first black mayor of Southwark, south east London, who was on the Empire Windrush 71 years ago.
“It’s important for children to see that their heritage is val- uable enough to be in a hard- back book,” says Chimbiri. “It shows that their history is important. This reinforces that the community is important and worthwhile. Children need to feel worthwhile both as individuals and as part of a wider community to fully develop themselves.
“Some young people don’t know about the experiences of their parents and grandparents coming to this country. Many African and African-Caribbean parents and grand-parents and it hard to talk about their experiences with the younger generation. The Story of the Windrush can help because books like this take away the pressure.
“You can discuss your family’s experience indirectly through the stories in the book. It helps to explain things in a calm yet honest and open way. That helps our children to understand and respect their family and community more and ultimately themselves.”
War to Windrush, by film and social historian Stephen Bourne, is another book about the Windrush Generation that has proved popular with young readers.
Bourne explores our country’s diverse history from the Second World War to the arrival of the Empire Windrush and beyond, told through the experiences of black British women.
Alongside key figures such as wartime heroes Lilian Bader, Nadia Cattouse and Norma Best, and pioneers in the arts and media Una Marson and Winifred Atwell, War to Windrush pays homage to the unsung heroines who were inte- gral to the post-war effort.
It acknowledges those ordinary black women who contributed significantly to rebuilding post-war Britain and creating a home for later generations, through their everyday lives.
Through strong imagery and evocative prose, including many rare and previously unpublished photographs from Bourne’s private collection, War to Windrush retraces the history of the black women whose role in helping build the multicultural Britain we know today remains somewhat unacknowledged.
Bourne, who started his writing career contributing to The Voice in 1984, says: “War to Windrush will inspire young readers – a much-needed book in today’s political climate.”
Meanwhile, Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff’s Mother Country: Real Stories of the Windrush Children, reminds us that for the Win- drush Generation, Britain was “the Mother Country”.
They made the long journey across the ocean, expecting to find a place where they would be welcomed with open arms; a land in which they would be free to build a new life, eight thousand miles from home.
This book explores the reality of their experiences, and those of their children and grandchildren, through 22 unique real-life stories. Contributors to the book include David Lammy and Lenny Henry.
The lack of diversity in books published for children has been evident for a number of years. But hopefully that situation is changing.