Foundation of the ‘Literacy Pirates’ Anthology

Inside the Literacy Pirates organisation

‘A Ten-Year Voyage’, insight from inside the Hackney pirate ship.

As part of Roehampton University’s collaboration with Literacy Pirates, the students involved in creating the charity’s ten-year anniversary anthology were welcomed aboard the Hackney ship, to meet the crew and get a sense of what goes on underneath the deck.

From the first steps into the building on Kingsland High, one can see the effort and dedication that the pirate crew put into creating this safe space for children. The wooden barrel-like walls with full bookshelves, the velvet curtain that leads you further into the ‘ship’, the book inspired staircase and the aquarium that hosts a golden fish, all contribute to the magical atmosphere of the place.

Considering the practical side, the Literacy Pirates’ teaching materials can be seen all around, from books to guides and writing prompts, all neatly organised on desks, awaiting volunteers to hand them out and children to use them. The charity aims to improve literacy among children aged from approximately nine to twelve, through creative writing exercises and projects, that they later have the opportunity to see in print. 

The impressive amount of books published by the Literacy Pirates until now includes a variety of genres and formats, worth mentioning is a play and a comic book. The books’ content is as diverse as the authors are, the stories revealing children from all over the world, united because of the sessions they attend with the pirates. Literacy Pirates provides them not only with a space where they learn how to express themselves in writing, and where reading is promoted but also with a space where they can learn from each other and discover new cultures.

Both the magical atmosphere of a ship with bookish Pirates, and the educational and creative activities held there, make the Hackney office a reflection of the charity’s spirit and goals. Pauline Rolland, Sarah Newman, Isha Gadgil, Teodora Hociung and Zuzanna Majkowska hope that their enthusiasm and belief in this project will also be felt in the ten-year anthology that they put together, because more children should get the chance to walk in through the Pirates’ doors and step into the fantastical world of stories.

Production of the ‘Literacy Pirates’ Anthology

Front cover of the anthology

Back in 2011, a teacher in North London came to the realisation that some of her students needed more help and support beyond what their respective schools could provide. Hence, after proposing a pilot project with the local charity ‘Bootstrap Company’, Catriona Maclay founded ‘The Hackney Pirates’, which today is proudly known as the non-profit organization, The Literacy Pirates. 

The Literacy Pirates is a teachers’ community who believes every child should be successful in learning which they achieve by providing them extra support to improve their learning abilities. They work with children aged from 9-12 years and provide them guidance on reading and creative writing activities. The children’s written work is then published in books, films as well as audio projects.

After a decade of perseverance, Literacy Pirates, in collaboration with the University of Roehampton’s very own Fincham Press, decided to do an anthology which highlights the hard work of the organisation and its children.

From the MA Publishing programme, Pauline Rolland, Sarah Newman, Teodora Hociung, Zuzanna Majkowska and Isha Gadgil have put their heart and soul into this project and put together the anthology with the kindest help from Izzy Taylor, Communications Manager at the Literacy Pirates and Dr. Susan Greenberg, convener of MA Publishing at the University of Roehampton. 

The anthology is called ‘A Ten-Year Voyage’. It is divided into three sections. ‘A Trip Around the World’ is based on the celebration of diversity among these children who love to celebrate various festivals in various countries around the world. ‘A Journey Through Imagination’ is the section that features stories when these young children flexed their creative and imaginary boundaries with fictional stories to tell the world. The last section is named ‘A Virtual Ship’ which focuses on how the Pirates worked when the world was hit by the pandemic storm and the United Kingdom was on lockdown. 

The cover design of the anthology is designed by Sarah Newman. The sections were divided among Isha, Pauline and Zuzanna, and the developmental editing has been worked on by Teodora. All the five members of the team have worked hard on this project, and they have put together the anthology to cherish the brilliant work put up by the Literacy Pirates and their children.