Monday, 9 October 2017

Not another World Book Day grumble... Anne Rooney

Like many other authors, I'm not a fan of the latest World Book Day list with its liberal smattering of celebrities and overdose on humour. But rather than just grumble, I thought it would be more fun to think how it could be done better. It is called World Book Day. The focus is on the books, not the authors. Perhaps it should try to present as varied a book diet as possible, to maximise the chances of each child being able to find something they like. Books are not all funny stories. They are not all stories even (though you'd be hard pressed to realise that looking at the list). If I had charge of World Book Day, it would go something like this.

1. I'd keep Oi Goat! Kes Gray and Jim Field are great, and real professionals. And there should be *at least* one picture book in the list.
2. This year, I might keep the Paddington book, as Michael Bond has only just died and his work is worthy of being introduced to a new generation.
3. A scary story by Chris Priestley - he writes a lot of short stories so will have no trouble fitting the format, and scary stuff for the WBD age group gets no coverage.
4. One or more traditional myths - perhaps a retelling of a Greek myth by Lucy Coats or Saviour Pirotta. Children love Greek myths, but how many are introduced to them these days?
5. Animal stories - always popular; perhaps something from Michael Morpurgo's collection.
6. Fantasy - this is so wide-ranging from  Potteresque magic to sci-fi. Maybe something a bit different, like Inbali Iserles' Foxcraft.
7. Historical fiction - there's lots to choose from, from Ancient Rome (Caroline Lawrence) (and even earlier) onwards.
8. Poetry - again, there's lots of brilliant poetry for children. It doesn't have to be comic, but it can be. Maybe something by John Agard.
9. Science - there's any number of brilliant books about science, including nature, space, dinosaurs, the Earth... Nicola Davis's nature books are beautiful.
10. And finally... given the current climate, I'd opt for another bit of non-fiction on a very important topic, Chris Ridell's My Little Book of Big Freedoms.

Obviously, I have not put as much work into this list as the WBD might be expected to do. Any improved suggestions heartily welcomed. But maybe they could take on board that there is a HUGE variety of books that children can enjoy if we just help them to find what they like.

Anne Rooney
The Shipwrecked Rhino (non-fiction blog)
Out this month: Dinosaur Atlas (Lonely Planet);
beautifully illustrated by James Gilleard


Chitra Soundar said...

Absolutely! We perhaps should include one book in translation too.

Stroppy Author said...

Good idea! I did find 10 is too few... It would also be good to have something for non-fluent readers as the entire point is to enthuse children about books and they need it most of all

C.J.Busby said...

Great list, and I agree - focus on the books rather than authors, and get a nice range. WBD panel have clearly gone for attracting non-readers with the idea that they can own a little bit of a celebrity, an object, a bit like a gig T-shirt, and the fact that the 'little bit of celebrity' is a book then subtly tells them books are of value (and maybe they'll read it, even!). It's a strategy, I guess, but I don't think it will actually work to pull non-readers into reading.

Heather Dyer said...

Great post! Thank you.

Jenny Sullivan said...

Terry Pratchett's Tiffany Aching series - and "Johnny and the Bomb" for x-box mad boys!

Pippa Goodhart said...

Excellent suggestions, Anne.

Helen Larder said...

A great list! Thanks xxxx

Leslie Wilson said...


Penny Dolan said...

The range of the books on offer - both in subject and in all that one could call "language" is really important, so thank you, Anne, for suggesting all these -and the other suggestions above.

The need for the big best-seller seems - from bookshop shelves near me - to be pushing books into rather decreasing circles.