Top children’s authors including David Almond and Anthony McGowan have criticised a celebrity-heavy lineup of titles for next year’s World Book Day, describing the choice of books by famous names including Julian Clary and Clare Balding as patronising and demeaning.
Billed as “the world’s biggest celebration of reading”, more than 1m books by authors including Jacqueline Wilson, Francesca Simon and Julia Donaldson were given away to children for this year’s World Book Day. But when the featured authors at next year’s event were announced on Friday, including Great British Bake Off winner Nadiya Hussain and the musician Tom Fletcher as well as Clary and Balding, the Carnegie medal-winning writer Almond led a volley of criticism against organisers for overlooking children’s authors in favour of celebrity names.
Almond, who wrote the novel Island for this year’s event, took to Facebook this weekend to ask “how it is that books by a clutch of celebrities could possibly be better than those by some of the wonderful children’s authors at work today? … I guess some folk might say I’m just being elitist or something if I start going on about the choices for next year, if I allow myself to think that the nation’s children are being short-changed by this and that the nation’s authors and illustrators are being scorned, if I wonder whether the choices show a lack of true seriousness and a narrow understanding of the importance of children’s literary culture … But what the hell. That’s what I wonder, that’s what I think.”
Almond said on Monday that he was supported in his views by many of his fellow authors. “I think World Book Day is a fantastic venture so this is baffling, really. On the one hand I am angry, but on the other – what were they thinking? It’s demeaning to children, because it is assuming that children don’t read properly.”
Almond was supported by authors including Joanne Harris, who wrote on her blog that…