Kahani is an innovative reading project designed to embed a culture of reading in English amongst Muslim and Pakistani communities in the UK.
Over 300 specially selected beautiful books are used with young people and families to inspire a love of reading.
Combined with authors and artists/illustrators that speak to their experience, this is a package that provides a refreshing alternative to stimulate a lifelong passion for books.
It fundamentally addresses the below average educational attainment from these communities. Parents and adults are encouraged to become reading role models for their children and young people.
Kahani builds a network through introducing children and families to amazing reading material and authors/artists into their schools and localities.
It’s about liberating the imagination of young people and their families to begin their own journeys of expression and achievement. To foster shared cross cultural narratives and raise the self esteem of children in their own literary heritage.
Children will respond to books and literature where they recognise a positive representation of themselves.
It provides a platform for wider understanding and dialogue between communities.
It is incumbent on Muslims to seek knowledge for the whole of their lives. The first words related to the Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) from the Angel Gabriel were ‘Iqra’. ‘Read. Read in the name of your Lord’.
The contemporary literary heritage from these communities is rich in ideas and stories spanning the UK, Pakistan and the Diaspora. It speaks directly to everyday experience of multiple identities, political turmoil, of love and loss, social and economic aspirations and redefining constantly what it means to be British, Pakistani and Muslim.
A network of authors and artists are invited to engage with communities across the UK in locally based venues, to interact with non-traditional book reading audiences. Regular readers will be encouraged to become reading champions.
This will be complemented at school level by children’s authors working with students and families that are directly relevant to their experience.
Once inspired, people have readily signed up to promote reading in all its facets. The purpose is to embed a rooted network that will sustain an organic relationship between children, parents and their educators. Accessing reading for pleasure will mark a fundamental shift in educational attainment.
An imaginative use of social media shows how this relationship can be maintained without significant cost.
These events will also provide a platform for wider understanding and dialogue. Hearing other voices but in an imaginative, safe space will spark conversations and elevate a shared purpose. Raising the level of debate will also ultimately lead to an informed and confident UK diaspora community having a profound effect on Pakistan through cultural and artistic exchange, business investment, as well as through educational, health and social policy.
In the wake of 9/11 & 7/7, Pakistani and Muslim communities in the UK have already demonstrated a profound sense of social responsibility and met evolving challenges in a direct and creative fashion. There is an urgent desire to shape our shared home, but in a manner that unifies and celebrates through understanding and respect. Whether this be an appreciation of Islamic fashion, entrepreneurial zeal or a desire for social justice.
Parents will engage with their child’s education and the governance of the education system in a diverse and inclusive manner. The project embraces the global and historic diversity of Muslim experience.
Good practice for one community benefits the whole school family. These lessons should be applied to other groups who are underachieving such as eastern European, black and white working class communities.
Many of the elements of Kahani were piloted in ‘Arooj’ a project based in Leeds which Aamir Darr (the founder of Kahani) helped to initiate and develop in 2009. There have been many positive measurable outcomes from both Arooj and Kahani.
The National Literacy Trust have established a hub in Bradford to address issues of low literacy over a three year period. Their efforts will be targeted at geographic wards and groups who struggle to access the benefits of good communication skills through a sound grasp of literacy. Their thinking is out of the box and will hopefully develop narratives for those traditionally marginalised.
Their reader development programme already supports 80 reading groups through the city. They have a wealth of experience to maintain the library service as a vehicle for reading pleasure, enhancing educational opportunity and social mobility.
Want an inspiring author to come to your locality?
We will arrange a suitable date and venue.
The key to success is embedding the process within your community.
Invite stakeholders who are genuinely committed to grassroots organisation.
Discuss expectations and keep others informed about events and activities that develop.
Get people talking about reading!
Those who are already regular readers can act as reading champions. What better way to inspire a child to read for pleasure.
Schools participating in Kahani and Arooj have reported the following benefits for pupils:
Pupils with English as an additional language (EAL) progress by recognition of the following factors.
These are all recognised within the framework document for the new national curriculum.
Kahani develops literacy through the expansion of this cultural knowledge.
The new KS2 history option on early Islamic civilisation provides a platform for greater cultural understanding. This is fully resourced through the Kahani materials.
It provides a living model for discussing religious education. It contributes to a rounded appreciation of the contemporary Islamic experience in the UK. This is of great benefit to students and families discussing faith and its relevance to relations with differing communities.
International and local linking activities. Kahani can facilitate work with schools and charitable projects working in the UK and across the Islamic world.
These activities are recognised by OFSTED as providing rich and stimulating experiences that allow students to develop an inclusive and global perspective on all aspects of the curriculum.
Schools can provide a culturally sensitive curriculum that acknowledges and supports the background of their families. This can inspire pupils to the highest expectations. Recent controversies have shown how this needs to be continually reinforced.
It's fantastic to have the Kahani Reading Project as a resource for Bradford. The events such as author presentations provide cultural enrichment that Bradford can be proud of. We have stocked our library with many of the varied titles.
The project brings together a wide range of high quality beautifully illustrated reading material for children as well as books which parents will enjoy.
I would strongly encourage anyone who is interested in reading and expanding their horizons to find out more and get involved.
- Trish Gavin, Principal, Whetley Academy
The books have been well used by children and have provided them with valuable information and further insight into their faith, culture and home language. The high literary quality have helped the children to gain a much deeper appreciation
of their own culture as well as well as exposing them to other cultures from around the world. The opportunity to read books that may present a viewpoint different from their own, also helps to promote healthy debate and discussion
and this can only be a good thing.
- Mike Pope, Headteacher, Lidget Green Primary School