Lifestyle & Culture

Virgin Radio’s 500 Words: Black Lives Matter book is released today

A collection of 100 inspiring, moving and poignant short stories, submitted to the 500 Words: Black Lives Matter competition which ran on Virgin Radio in July 2020. 500 Words: Black Lives Matter features a foreword from Chris Evans, analysis of the writing from Oxford University Press and writing tips from judges Malorie Blackman, Charlie Higson, Francesca Simon and Frank Cottrell-Boyce.


Originally devised by Chris Evans, 500 Words has a rich 10-year heritage, giving children of all
ethnicities and backgrounds a platform to express their imaginations and creativity through storytelling.


In the decade it has been active 500 Words has involved 54% of primary and secondary schools in the UK and received 1.1 million entries. This year almost 6,000 children, aged between 5-13, submitted stories expressing their personal experiences, tales of empathy, learning and respect, building on the international conversation around Black Lives Matter.


The illustrious judging panel, chaired by Angellica Bell and Michael Underwood, reviewed thousands of submissions from which they have shortlisted eight finalists and selected a further 92 stories to be included in this important and timely collection. The competition was supported by Virgin Radio Atlantic, Bonnier Books UK, Canongate, Faber & Faber, Hachette UK, HarperCollins UK, Pan Macmillan, Oxford University Press, Profile, Puffin (an imprint ofPenguin Random House) and Simon & Schuster and a range of incredible celebrities.

Winning entries were read on the show by Nicole Kidman, Mark Strong, David Tennant, Rob Brydon, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Shobna Gulati, Jim Broadbent, Amanda Abbington, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Stephen Graham. The audio of these readings is available via Amazon Alexa.


All royalties from the sale of this book will be matched by the publisher and donated to the children’s charity Coram Beanstalk.