Meet the authors:

We are very excited to share the authors supporting The Black Country, as part of Connecting Stories.

A.M. Dassu

A. M. Dassu

A. M. Dassu is a writer of both fiction and non-fiction and is based in the East Midlands. She is the author of widely acclaimed MG novel Boy, Everywhere which is one of the Guardian's Best Books of 2020 and was also featured as one of the Guardian's Books of the Month, Children's Best New Novels on publication in October, is on Amnesty's Books That Inspire Activism list, and has just been announced as one of Bookriot's Best Children's Book of 2020.

She is Deputy Editor of SCBWI-BI's magazine, Words & Pictures, and a Director of Inclusive Minds, a unique organisation for people who are passionate about inclusion, diversity, equality, and accessibility in children's literature. Previously, she has worked in project management, marketing, and editorial. Her work has been published by The Huffington Post, Times Educational Supplement, SCOOP Magazine, Lee and Low Books, and DK Books. When she isn't battling emails or writing, she mentors aspiring authors and loves to shout about other people's books.

You can find her on Twitter @a_reflective or Instagram @a.m.dassu or amdassu.com.

“While working in Adult Basic Education, I saw first-hand what low levels of literacy can do to an individual's self-esteem. The rates of literacy in the UK were rising in 2002, the UK ranked 7th internationally for teenage literacy, and it pains me to see that 15 years later, we rank so much lower.

“The National Literacy Trust's research has shown that 383,755 school children in the UK do not own a book. Not ONE book to call their own. Yet we know that children and young people who engage with literacy have better mental wellbeing and are happier. I am delighted to be involved in this important campaign to support the National Literacy Trust's objectives. I hope together we can encourage children from the most deprived areas to read and write for pleasure and see those benefits translate into their classwork, and later throughout their adult lives.”

Benjamin Dean

Benjamin Dean

Benjamin Dean is a London-based celebrity reporter for Buzzfeed. His biggest achievement to date is breaking the news that Rihanna can’t wink (she blinks, in case you were wondering). Benjamin can be found on Twitter as @notagainben tweeting about Rihanna and LGBTQ+ culture to his 10,000+ followers.

Me, My Dad and the End of the Rainbow is his debut book, out on 4 February, and he is currently working on its follow-up.

“It is vitally important that children have access to books that represent their own experience, but also the rest of society. I’m delighted to be part of Connecting Stories to ensure that children in the Black Country are inspired to read from a young age so they can explore the world through the written page for their whole life.”

Raj Kaur Khaira

Raj Kaur Khaira

Raj is a lawyer, author and activist, with degrees in Biology, Political Science and Law living in London. Raj trained as a lawyer at one of London's top firms and now advises start-ups on how they can expand. She is one of few ethnic minority women in the UK to have held a role in the c-suite of a tech start-up.

Raj founded the Pink Ladoo Project in 2015, which encourages South Asian families to abandon the sexist custom of only distributing sweets to their community when a boy is born. The Pink Ladoo Project celebrates the birth of girls with sweets, too. The campaign has attracted tens of thousands of followers in South Asian communities across the UK, Canada, the US and Australia. It has rapidly become one of the most prominent feminist movements for South Asian women.

“I can’t wait to bring the magic of stories to families across the Black Country who need it most this year. Reading introduces children to so many new worlds and I’m delighted to be working with the National Literacy Trust to inspire families to explore these together.”