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.
Sita Brahmachari, author said: “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.”
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 details and resources can be found on the Birmingham Stories website:
For further information or to request a spokesperson interview, please contact Katie Stepp, Campaigns Officer at the National Literacy Trust or call 07714 389 440 (out of hours). or Hasan Salim Patel, Communications Manager (Arts, Law and Social Sciences) or call on +44 (0)7966 311 409 or out of hours office number on +44 (0)7580 744943.
About Birmingham Stories
Birmingham Stories is a campaign run in partnership by the National Literacy Trust and the University of Birmingham. Together we are working to raise literacy levels and change the life stories of young people and adults across the city.
By working directly with communities and schools, we are spreading a love of storytelling across Birmingham, and equipping young people and families with the literacy skills they need to succeed in life. As well as events in schools and communities, we are running a city-wide campaign to encourage reading for pleasure and inspire young people.
To find out more about the Birmingham Stories campaign.
About the National Literacy Trust
Our charity is dedicated to improving the reading, writing, speaking and listening skills of those who need it most, giving them the best possible chance of success in school, work and life. We run Literacy Hubs and campaigns in communities where low levels of literacy and social mobility are seriously impacting people’s lives. We support schools and early years settings to deliver outstanding literacy provision, and we campaign to make literacy a priority for politicians, businesses and parents. Our research and analysis make us the leading authority on literacy and drive our interventions. Literacy is a vital element of action against poverty and our work changes children’s life stories.
The National Literacy Trust is a registered charity no. 1116260 and a company limited by guarantee no. 5836486 registered in England and Wales and a registered charity in Scotland no. SC042944. Registered address: 68 South Lambeth Road, London SW8 1RL.
About the University of Birmingham
The University of Birmingham is ranked amongst the world’s top 100 institutions, its work brings people from across the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and more than 6,500 international students from over 150 countries.
About Sita Brahmachari
Sita Brahmachari is the current Writer in Residence at Islington Centre for Refugees and Migrants, as well as an Amnesty International ambassador.
About Michaela Mahlberg
Michaela Mahlberg is Professor of Corpus Linguistics at the University of Birmingham. Her world-leading research uses data and technology to study patterns in language and especially in narrative fiction.
About David Hannah
David Hannah is Professor of Hydrology and UNESCO Chair in Water Science at the University of Birmingham. He is recognised internationally for his pioneering work linking hydrology with climatology and ecology.