Megaphone scheme opens for children’s writers

A talent development programme, for writers of colour who are writing for children, is open for applications until the end of the month.

Megaphone, led by children’s author and creative writing tutor, Leila Rasheed is offering writers an opportunity to develop their manuscript. The scheme, funded by Arts Council England, will mentor six writers.

Rasheed was inspired by her own experiences of completing an MA and writing a novel in a year but not knowing where to go next. She tells me that the impetus for setting up Megaphone, which was first piloted in 2015 is about “creating an ongoing community for writers of colour that is going to be there for them at every stage of their writing journey.”

Masterclasses delivered by published writers will give mentees a chance to develop their writing. The sessions will be led by children’s authors Sharna Jackson (Mic Drop), Patrice Lawrence (Eight Pieces of Silva) and Bali Rai (Mohinder’s War)

The programme, delivered online, will provide a safe space for writers to share experiences as well as connect them to those working in the industry. A number of publishers, such as Usbourne and Kinights Of are involved in delivering a masterclass.

A community strand – free and open to the public – will provide insights on how publishing works from industry experts. 

While Megaphone is committed to developing writing talent, the website’s blog maintained by Rasheed, acts as a talking point to discuss research findings and books by writers of colour. Rasheed believes that research from Booktrust and the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) among others highlights that much more needs to be done.

“To make long-term change, publishers will need to make long-term investments in and commitment to creators of colour so they can not just start, but sustain, a career.”

~ Megaphone blog, January 3, 2021

Rasheed hopes that Megaphone will help to equal the level playing field for writers of colour. Publication success for previous mentees also means that she is confident in the scheme’s design and that it can help writers take that next step. Two mentees from the pilot scheme, Maisie Chan and Danielle Jawando, who both went on to be published will act as mentors, alongside Rasheed.

Top tips for writing a strong application

  1. Read contemporary children’s books so you understand the genre.

2. Tell us what’s unique about you and why what you’re writing is authentic to you.

3. Remember, there is no restriction on what you’re writing.

Megaphone is open to writers of colour based in England who are writing a children’s/YA novel until the end of the month (31 January).