The World Book Day organisers have named their chosen £1 books for WBD on March 1st 2018 and have unwittingly started a very interesting and fairly heated discussion on the current state of Childrens’ Book commerce and book charity distribution. The issue is that four out of the authors chosen to write short books to give away are celebrities with busy high profile careers in other media whose established fan base has made their children’s books wildly popular simply through their celebrity access to publicity. (Clare Balding, Julian Clary, Nadiya Hussain and McFly’s Tom Fletcher, we love them all but…). The rest of the chosen books seem to be essentially picture books. It is a useful discussion which helps to clarify why my bibliophilic heart drops every time David Walliams and Madonna etc sell more children’s books than the very best writers walking the earth today.
Jo Cotterill responds by writing beautifully about What a Children’s Author Does and Nicola Morgan fires a broadside with Why the celeb-heavy WBD list IS a problem. They articulate it better than I can. Read them here.
Librarians spend their working life promoting access to a broad, varied, diverse and non-repetitive, anti-twee, gender thoughtful, unpredictable fiction to develop readers and their reading. Professional children’s authors are our team mates. The 2018 list is a sloppy missed opportunity. It’s not about the money. It’s about the message. Has WBD got the message wrong?