Rashmi Sirdeshpande unveiled as BookTrust's new Writer in Residence

Published on: 19 February 2024

The Good News author will explore the power of non-fiction during her six months in the role.

Rashmi Sirdeshpande writing in front of bookshelves

Award-winning author Rashmi Sirdeshpande has been announced as BookTrust's brand new Writer in Residence, and will be taking up the role from 1 March.

Taking the reins from the current Writer in Residence, Michelle Robinson, Sirdeshpande will use her residency to champion the benefits of an underrated form of storytelling: children's non-fiction and factual books.

She has chosen the theme of 'Using factual books to fascinate young readers', and will be encouraging children and grown-ups to discover mind-enriching facts together.

Sirdeshpande - the author of Good News - will talk about the magic of curiosity and wonder, and how this can be cultivated in children through sharing non-fiction books, as well as how factual books can make children laugh, think, and turn empathy into action.

Creating shared wow moments for children and adults

During her residency, Sirdeshpande will highlight how reading non-fiction together can be a powerful way for families to bond, find common interests and have fun.

"As BookTrust's new Writer in Residence, I'd love to get children and grown-ups reading more factual books together," Sirdeshpande said. "I want to see those shared moments of reading spark conversations and awaken inner storytellers.

"I was diagnosed with autism and ADHD aged 39. Looking back, I see why factual books were always so perfect for me as a child. I could follow my areas of intense interests down the deepest rabbit holes.

"But I believe factual books are truly for everyone – neurotypical readers, too – because we're all curious about the world. I want people to see that these books can make reading accessible and irresistible.

"I love seeing children's eyes light up when they discover a fascinating fact, and you can see they're bursting to share it with someone.

"Today, in this golden age of children's factual books, there is so much richness and variety. If you find the right book, it brings children (and grown-ups) together in a shared 'wow' moment that can really stay with them. I've seen it. It sets children on an amazing path of loving books and loving learning."

Rashmi Sirdeshpande smiling in front of bookshelves, including some of her books

Encouraging families and children to get reading together

BookTrust's Writer in Residence position - previously held by authors and illustrators including Cressida Cowell, SF Said, Nadia Shireen, Michael Rosen, Laura Dockrill and Nick Sharratt - provides a platform for creators to explore issues that they are passionate about and use their creativity to inspire more children to discover the joy of reading, so they can enjoy all the benefits this brings.

As a British South Asian writer who has been diagnosed with autism and ADHD as an adult, Sirdeshpande is an advocate for diverse representation of all kinds in children's literature.

Sirdeshpande has experience in capturing the imagination and interest of a broad range of young readers, after producing both picture books for pre-schoolers and factual books for primary school age children. Her picture books promote creativity and lateral thinking, while her non-fiction titles encourage children to self-reflect, explore their personal interests, and stay curious about the world around them.

This aligns with BookTrust's findings about the holistic benefits of reading for pleasure – and how it can help make children happier, healthier, more creative, more empathetic and more successful at school.

This is why the charity's Reading Together campaign is calling for sustained government investment in children's reading in early childhood. Promoting pathways to excite and inspire families to read together is vital for helping more children develop a love of reading, so they can experience the benefits.

Creating conversations between families

Diana Gerald, CEO of BookTrust, said the charity is "so happy" that Sirdeshpande will be exploring non-fiction during her time in the role.

"At BookTrust, we hear time and time again how much families enjoy the non-fiction books gifted through our charity's programmes to those on low incomes or who are most vulnerable," she said. "Parents and carers tell us their children love sharing facts from their new books – whether they're about animals, aeroplanes or history.

"It shows how powerful books can be for creating conversations between families, which supports children to bond, feel safe and develop socially and emotionally.

"For older children, a non-fiction book is a deep dive into a topic that captures their imagination. If a factual book sparks a reluctant young reader's interest, it could be the catalyst for their reading journey. We can't wait to see how Rashmi champions this during her residency at BookTrust."

Download the full press release

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