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News story

Young writers in Birmingham invited to write Water Stories

15 Sep 2021


Bestselling author Sita Brahmachari to lead story writing competition, inspiring young people across the city to write their stories about water

Birmingham Stories is launching their annual story writing competition. This year’s theme is ‘Water Stories’. The competition, hosted by the National Literacy Trust and the University of Birmingham, allows students to explore what water means to our society whilst also contributing to research into the linguistics of stories.

Bestselling author Sita Brahmachari will lead a judging panel made up of Birmingham role models and writing experts. Sita Brahmachari is passionate about championing inclusiveness, was the 2015 Booktrust Writer in Residence and recipient of an honour from the International Board of Books for Young People. She’s the current Writer in Residence at Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants, as well as an Amnesty International ambassador.

“I am so excited to have been invited to be a judge on this year's National Literacy Trust creative writing competition 'Water Stories'. The rivers, canals and oceans that have inspired me also map journeys of history, migration, imagination, adventure, identity and belonging. In fact in at least three of my stories ' The River Whale,' 'Where The River Runs Gold' and ' When Secrets Set Sail' my love of water is announced in the titles. So now is the time to raise your anchors like my characters and set sail on your own water story journey. Who knows where in the world you'll end up! I look forward to visiting the school in Birmingham of the winning author and floating more 'Water Story' inspiration! Enjoy letting your imaginations flow.”

Sita Brahmachari, author

Leading up to the deadline of the competition, materials from Sita to support young writers and resources for teachers will be available on the Birmingham Stories website.

The story writing competition is part of research at the University of Birmingham to raise awareness of the urgency of the climate crisis, and related water crisis.

David Hannah, Professor of Hydrology and UNESCO Chair in Water Science at the University of Birmingham, said: “Major issues around water can be described as too much water, too little water, too polluted water. Today, it is more important than ever to raise awareness of what water means to our society.”

Michaela Mahlberg, Professor of Corpus Linguistics at the University of Birmingham says: “Telling stories is a way of understanding the world. Stories can make people aware of problems that need tackling. Stories can also help us think about solutions in a creative way.”

The submitted stories will be added to the Birmingham Stories Corpus (BSC), a collection of stories used by researchers to study the language of young people. Stories reveal information about society, relationships, culture and language. Every single submission will be part of the BSC, meaning students’ voices will have a lasting impact as part of this research.

Competition key details

Theme: Water Stories

Submission deadline: Friday 5 November 2021

Winners will be announced: December 2021

Story length: 500- 750 words

Age range: 9 to 14 (Years 5-9).

Entries are open to children across the country with prizes split between Birmingham’s young writers and other pupils from around the country. The first place winner in Birmingham will receive an exciting author visit from Sita Brahmachari to their school, and the first place outside of the city will receive an exclusive bundle of books. The top three winning stories will be published on the Birmingham Stories and the University of Birmingham websites and all entrants will receive a certificate for participating.

More information can be found here.

Please note, this competition has since been extended to a deadline of 22 November. Winners will be announced in January 2022.

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