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The Storybarn selects… from The Reader Bookshelf

Written by Maisie Jeynes, 24th November 2022

As we continue to explore The Reader Bookshelf we've asked members of our Children & Young People Team to talk about their favourite children's books from the collection.

This month, our Children and Young People Partnerships and People Manager, Emma McColl talks to us about Somebody Give This Heart a Pen by Sophia Thakur. 


Words by Emma McColl

‘But more than that, from breaking we know that though

we shed, we can always regrow.

Always reseed.

Always restart.

This is the natural process of a heart.’

Extract from The Process

This brilliant debut anthology from spoken word poet Sophia Thakur explores issues she and others have faced while growing up.  It’s split into sections called Grow, Wait, Break, and Grow Again; and looks at key areas facing young people such as identity, race, difference, faith, loss, love, friendship and joy.

Sophia writes with honesty and deep emotion.  Poems like ‘Shiny Black’ have moments I found hard to read but I was also drawn back to again and again.  Another challenging poem that I’ve read many times is ‘the leaders won’t’ where Sophia addresses politics, promises and our responsibility towards each other.

Some of the poems, like 'Itty Bitty Titty Committee' talk directly to the experience of growing up and the challenges of adolescence.  Other poems such as ‘Soul Mates’ have an ageless quality to them, looking at experiences that are the same across age groups and across time.  ‘Picking a Name’ is a powerful short poem I have read out loud with a number of people and have always found people have a story about a similar experience they have had.

I hope you will read this book and maybe watch some of Sophia’s videos online as well.  Her words will speak to your heart, and maybe even encourage you to give your own heart a pen.

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