I'm all in favour of inclusion in children's literature. It's vital that children of all ethnicities, abilities, gender alignments and religions should find themselves sympathetically and realistically represented in the books they read. But I'm feeling a little uneasy at the moment about who inclusion tells us to include, and who we now exclude. Children for whom no one will speak out, and children who - I suspect - few of us would feel comfortable putting in our books. Children don't choose their backgrounds or their families.
Where do you see yourself represented if your parents are UKIP supporters who spout racist opinions that you - as a young child - don't necessarily see a problem with?
Where do you see yourself represented if you are - like many young people I know - crushed by the pressure to perform to the highest academic standards, to look good, and who deals with this pressure not through self-harm or developing an eating disorder (though you might do those, too), but by taking large amounts of drugs, getting so drunk you don't know where you are and what you've done - and don't see a problem with it, so don't want a moral treatise on how to fix your life?
Where do you see yourself represented if you are 16 and have a baby, and love that baby and bring him or her up properly, so are not battling against social services or extreme poverty, but just happen to have a baby - and so a very different life from your peers?
Where do you see yourself represented if you are a middle class child with enough money and all the material goods you need - but your parents are emotionally abusive or neglectful? And not because they have physical or mental health problems, or relationship problems, or whatever, but just because they have their priorities all wrong or are simply selfish, unpleasant people?
Where do you see yourself represented if you are the only white girl in your class?
Or if you are the Creationist (in the UK) or the Palestinian, or the child of the Russian oligarch, or the really bright kid, or the really, really overweight kid, or the one with eczema or something else that is not very glamorous or dangerous but makes life hard for you?
Where do you see yourself if you have a sibling with profound learning difficulties or mental illness, or a resident older relative with dementia or Parkinson's. Not only are there the obvious emotional implications, but having someone 'difficult' in the house like this makes it hard for you to take friends home, or difficult for you to get lifts to and from the places your friends go?
There are lots of people we don't write about, and lots of them - I suspect - publishing companies don't want us to write about. Some we ourselves don't want to write about. I wouldn't be comfortable portraying a UKIP sympathiser and not having that person either change or question their views. I don't see how I could write about the girl who was uncomfortable at being the only white child in her London class without the book looking anti-black. The rich are often demonised in children's books, which can't be nice if, through no fault of your own, you are from a wealthy family.
It's not about 'issue' books. It's about representing a cross-section of the population, warts and all, and we don't do it. How do we choose who to include? They should be the people necessary for the story. Rooting stories more in the real, lived world of our readers might perhaps draw in some of these characters naturally. It takes bravery, empathy and research. But we can do those, can't we?