Multi-award winning children’s author, women and refugee rights activist Onjali Q Rauch is a driving force for civic engagement. As a children’s writer, Onjali doesn’t hesitate to have candid conversations about contemporary social topics she holds dear to her heart, such as domestic violence and the refugee crisis.
Onjali’s story takes you on an adventure and introduces you to multifaceted characters who believe, ask questions, and act to solve problems. Her optimistic tone and powerful storytelling help address the socioeconomic inequalities that pervade today’s society.
Books have tremendous power, especially over the impressionable minds of children. In an information age where children are exposed to news about social issues and politics, Onjali’s books provide a safe space for children to understand and discuss these complex topics.
Onjali is a promising writer. She believes that instead of focusing on the gravity of the problem, we need to focus on the immense power of the individual and the collective effort to help eradicate many of the world’s problems. As a writer, she takes this responsibility very seriously. Her story of her Onjali empowers children to think for themselves, be kind, take responsibility, dig deep and evaluate. And in the process, her books help children become better versions of themselves.
Since the stunning debut of The Boy at the Back of the Class, you’ve been publishing these important and life-changing books at breakneck speed. Are you currently working on a new product?
of course! I think the author is always on to something. We are working on Kinjirushi no Tegami as our next main title. It features a heroic secret young caregiver. A scary looking neighbor who might be trying to get her and a pretty nice postman. I just finished the fairy tale book I’ve been making in my head for a long time, and I’m really looking forward to the release of both next year.
You have not hesitated to introduce children’s books to topics that others might consider “heavy” for young readers. What approach do you take to
The truth is that children’s literature has never hesitated to make accessible and palatable the most grievous problems that humanity has had to deal with. , represented in the form of an orphaned Harry Potter, or the battle that unfolds in Narnia, or when Hitler steals the pink rabbit in Judith Carr’s “Good Night” by Tom.
Remember your most cherished childhood favorites.The characters you loved most must all have fought the most soul-crushing struggles.On that front, nothing has changed. Of course, children are now growing up in an age of information overload, but most will either survive or become witnesses to the unacceptable side of humanity’s failures.
Each story is multiplied by writing about abuse, homelessness, and racism from the perspective of a narrator who is somehow hungry to tackle the issue anew and find solutions to what he sees and experiences. I hope it doesn’t just help you, but helps your kids understand that it plays a big part in putting an end to what they’re reading.
Can you tell us a little bit about Hope on the Horizon? Do you think empathy should be a cornerstone of school curricula?
Hope on the Horizon is a compilation of the heroes I have met in my life so far. Whether they are cartoon characters or frontline refugee activists. Each one gives me hope. Their existence proves that we humans are so great and capable of so much more than those in power would have us believe.
We can celebrate those who deserve to be featured in the news stories and our history books but are not featured, each with something our children show and can identify with on a daily basis: kindness, compassion, The fact that it shows the truth gives literature the icing on it. cake for me.
When it comes to empathy, we are witnessing on a global scale what happens when humans have no empathy for the realities, experiences, beliefs, or needs of others. Targeted and targeted bullying is born out of a lack of empathy. So absolutely and completely so. Learning how to listen deeply, respect, and imagine the place of others in the world needs to be ingrained in all aspects of our learning, whether we are children or adults. Otherwise, we become deaf, unkind, cruel, and lost.
The warm reception your book has received has contributed greatly to the recognition of BAME authors in the UK and abroad. Where do you see children’s literature ten years from now?
It’s very kind. I don’t know if that is true. Luckily, Benjamin Zephaniah (the first black poet I saw when I was 16 and consequently revolutionized my idea of what was possible in my life), Theta, etc. I found myself on a path already created by Brahmachari, Mallory Blackman, and countless others.
In 10 years, I hope to see greater equality not just on the bookshelf, but behind the scenes, at the tables of editors and industry buyers. At the critic’s desk. The entire world of PR, media and awards. At illustrator meetings and festivals. It’s been a start, but as the past few years have proven, there’s a very long way to go before mere words and nods are replaced by the real change that underlies everything.
Making Herstory participated in Leesa Gazi’s Rising Silence documentary. Could you tell us how this collaboration came about?
How wonderful you ask! Yes, we funded part of the production through fundraising and speaking engagements. The collaboration came about when Lisa went to see the One Woman show at a small theater in London and left a note asking if there was anything we could do to get a message about its existence and abuse. was triggered. , and Silence of Bangladeshi Vilangona Women – sexual abuse in war panels/books/documentaries dare not be told (as if 200,000 women were raped, but nothing in world history and reconciliation). as if it had no effect). The rest, as we say, is Herstory. I often hear that the movie is doing well, but I haven’t seen the final cut yet. But we’re proud to have played a part in helping it get counterfeited.
What are you most looking forward to at Dhaka Lit Fest 2023?
I have been to Bangladesh only 3 times in my life. It’s been over 14 years since she said goodbye to the beautiful Nani. But nevertheless, meeting her great-grandfather and traveling to the country as a child, as I mentioned in the lion’s acknowledgment above the door, was a huge part of me.
I am really looking forward to visiting this place of memories again. I did so this time with the sole purpose of celebrating the written word and meeting writers and artists whose passions and ideas I could learn from. A former poet in her teens before being forced to leave, I think it’s most beautiful to see her bring books and words to life in the lands we work with.
Sameirah Nasrin Ahsan is a Dhaka-based mechanical engineer and aspiring author.