Emily Ghassempour (she/her)

Emily Ghassempour reading books to children

I’m Emily, Co Founder of Books for Change – when Wendy phoned me during lockdown I was in a dark place, my anxiety was sky high and as the Black Lives Matter movement picked up a new pace I was feeling triggered and exhausted. I truly believe Wendy’s phone call shifted something within me, I was able to slowly start thinking differently about how to channel my feelings of anger and frustration into something positive, and so Books for Change was born.

With 15 years experience of working on local community engagement projects and a background in working at the UK’s leading children’s Theatre ‘The Unicorn‘ I naturally fell into the front facing role, as the campaign has evolved I am loving the opportunity to share my love of diverse children’s books with the children of Folkestone. I am proud to be of mixed heritage, with strong Iranian roots. I draw on my families culture and share my experiences with families of Folkestone in the hope to spread positivity around difference. I am a qualified anti racism educator and I run workshops and storytelling sessions at Martello Primary School and Holdfast Beach School – it is an honour to be able to share my knowledge and passion with the next generation. 

They are the future, we can help to guide and teach them but they are the ones who have the power to make the change.

Wendy Venables-Gordon (she/her)

Wendy reading books for children

I’m Wendy, Co Founder of Books for Change. Motivated by Black Lives Matter and the call to organise, mobilise and educate, I called Emily with the idea of getting a few books with diverse representation of race, LGBTQI representation and disability for our children’s school.

We talked about the need for this in our school library, but why stop at just our school, what about the town? We had the fund raiser up online in hours and within 24 hours hit our target and have extended a few times since. Turns out others saw the need for this too and put their hand in their pocket. Parents, grandparents, local businesses, librarians, teachers, headteachers have sent support and offers of help. It has been an exciting, creative, fun and rewarding journey. Requests for more information came in far and wide and now we are helping many other groups start up their own ‘Books For Change’ campaigns and workshops in their area.

In the end, if you don’t do it, who will?


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