Sufiya Ahmed
Sufiya Ahmed

All About Sufiya Ahmed

Sufiya Ahmed is the author of the young adult novel ‘Secrets of the Henna Girl’ which is published by Puffin Books and was launched on International Women’s Day, March 8th 2012, at the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London.

Secrets of the Henna Girl won Sufiya Ahmed the prize for: Published Writer of the Year at the Brit Writers Awards in 2012 and the teen category award at the Redbridge Children’s Book Award in 2013.

Sufiya’s book has also been shortlisted for: The Sheffield Children’s Book Award 2013, The North East Teen Book Awards 2012/13 and the Rotherham Children’s Book Award 2013.

Sufiya Ahmed worked as a parliamentary researcher for the Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP in the Houses of Parliament. She was employed by the London MP for a number of years before becoming a Communications Advisor to the Rt Hon Harriet Harman MP. Sufiya is also the Founder and Director of the BIBI Foundation which was set up in 2010 to organise school visits to Parliament for diverse and under-privileged students. The patron is the Rt Hon Stephen Timms MP.

Sufiya now spends her time as a full time author and divides her time between writing her new book and visiting schools for author sessions where she gives presentations.

1. Slide show and speech to communicate her childhood dream to become a writer, her previous career in the Houses of Parliament and the journey to becoming a full time author.
2. Reading from a chapter.
3. Short discussion points on the book’s issue – forced marriages in the UK.
4. A dress up session with five volunteers to demonstrate an Asian bride’s henna ceremony.
5. Question and answer session.
6. Book signing for pupils.

Sufiya is happy deliver up to four presentations in one day and can work with years 7 to 11. The size of groups can vary. She will address whole year groups of up to 200 or work with small groups of 30/40.

Participating pupils will learn the following:
1. Not to give up on dreams and to make them come true through hard work and determination. This also covers the challenges faced by aspiring authors in the competitive publishing world, and how to overcome them.
2. A better understanding of the challenges of forced marriages in the UK and the breach of human rights of victims (this ties in very well with the citizenship curriculum which covers marriage and rights).
3. A basic understanding of how Parliament works as she describes how her work in the House of Commons inspired her to write a book on a topical issue which regularly features in the media and political discussions.

Requirements for a visit
Sufiya will require a laptop and screen for a PowerPoint presentation as well as a small table for props.

Reviews & Recommendations

“I just wanted to say thank you so much for the brilliant talk on Wednesday. I really enjoyed it and one of our school librarians said it was the best yet – and as we’ve had Phil Earle and Joe Craig and last year Hayley Long who stand out as really good, that is a huge compliment. It was educational as well as entertaining and not at all preachy. Our young people need to be exposed to cultural issues as on the whole we’re not a very diverse authority. We’ve received a thank you from one of the students who was looking forward to reading your book and I haven’t even had time to look through the feedback forms we coerced the students into completing with the prospect of winning a free book.

Thank you for tweeting about the award. The winning author was very pleased as well as many of the students present and some not present as I sent out the news and received some happy replies. So thank you for contributing to another successful year.” – Dawn Woods

Praise for Secrets of the Henna Girl:

‘Sufiya Ahmed is a talented writer who tells a good story and, in doing so, tackles the very real issue of forced marriage in a brave and balanced way. There are many different kinds of marriage, including love matches, marriages of convenience and arranged marriages, but for any marriage to be valid according to Islam and the Law, it must be based on the free consent of the bride and bridegroom to be married to each other in the first place. Secrets of the Henna Girls illustrates how wrong it is, on so many levels, when consent to marriage is neither sought nor given.’ HRH Princess Badiya bint El Hassan of Jordan, Chairperson of Mosaic, a Prince of Wales charity for young people

’Secrets of the Henna Girl’ bravely tackles the complex issue of forced marriage. This harmful practice damages the future of girls both in the UK and around the world.’ Marie Staunton, CEO, Plan UK

‘A hard-hitting, important story’ Sophia Bennett, author of Threads

‘Secrets of the Henna Girl is a must read’ Barry Sheerman MP, ex Schools Minister

To Make a Booking

To make an enquiry about Sufiya Ahmed, or any of the other authors, poets & illustrators listed on this website, please phone Trevor Wilson on +44 (0) 1535 656015, or email him at trevor@caboodlebooks.co.uk