We would like to put a copy of The Young Atheist's Handbook (reviews here) in every secondary school library in Northern Ireland. We have already sent copies of the book to schools in England and Wales and these have been warmly received.
This means raising the funds to buy, package and post copies. It's not intended for use in lessons, although some schools may choose to refer to it. Instead, the hope is simply to make it available to students to read if they so choose.
Many young people are brought up in the religion or belief of their family, without ever really having the chance to choose for themselves. It's too often assumed that people have to 'opt-out' of a religion, rather than making a positive choice for themselves.
Alom's book tells how he made that choice and shows that you can make moral choices without a religious faith to guide you.
School is where we go to learn how to ask questions. It seemed to us that making the book available through school libraries is a good first step in educating young people so that they can choose to exercise their freedom of choice.
The costs over-all are heavily discounted thanks to Biteback Publishing, for each book to be packaged and sent to a secondary school library.
If you feel able, please tell your friends and family about the campaign.
What did schools say?
‘I just wanted to say a big thank you for providing our school library with a free copy of The Young Atheist’s Handbook. As our school operates within a culturally diverse area with strong religious influences I consider it of utmost importance that our students are introduced to the full range of ethical and religious standpoints. Whereas the six main religions of our country are well represented on our shelves, I have found it difficult to find age-appropriate text which cover doubt, agnosticism and atheism. This book goes some way to redress this imbalance.’
Update: The author of the Young Atheist’s Handbook, Alom Shaha, was elected as a trustee of the BHA on 13 July 2013. As such, there is a potential conflict of interest surrounding the planned purchase of these books for schools. To prevent this, the BHA has put an agreement in place that Alom will recuse himself from any Board discussions and decisions surrounding this area of activity. As the original campaign was launched in 2012 and is well under way, such discussions/decisions will be minimal.
NB: Any funding raised in excess will be put towards our education work.