Gaiman, Pullman support Cover Kids Books campaign

Gaiman, Pullman support Cover Kids Books campaign

Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, Chris Riddell and Malorie Blackman are amongst more than 500 people who have signed an open letter calling for more children’s book coverage in newspapers.

The letter, sent to The Bookseller and composed by author SF Said (pictured), who set up the #CoverKidsBooks campaign, is asking for the national newspapers to commit to publishing at least one children’s book review every week.

The letter states: “We note with sadness the recent cuts and closures that have affected children's books coverage in UK newspapers. We have sympathy for media organisations trying to survive at a difficult time. However, we believe that where newspapers still cover books, a fair proportion of their coverage should go to children's books.

“Before these cuts, children's books were receiving just 3% of newspaper review coverage. Yet children's books now account for over 30% of the UK book market…. We believe that national newspapers should cover at least one children's book a week. Weekly coverage is vital to help those who buy children's books to find regular information on a wide range of literature. This is already the stated policy of bestselling newspapers such as the Sun and the Sunday Times, and it has in the past been the policy of others.”

Other children’s book professionals who have also signed the letter include authors Kate Saunders, Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre, children’s book critic Amanda Craig, CILIP Carnegie chair Joy Court, and many librarians, booksellers and university lecturers.

Said said he launched the #CoverKidsBooks campaign six months ago because newspapers are not paying enough attention to children’s books, even though we are living in a “golden age” of children’s literature.

“When we started the #CoverKidsBooks campaign six months ago, our research showed that children's books were getting just 3% of all newspaper review coverage, despite accounting for over 30% of the market,” he told The Bookseller.  “The situation is now even worse, with recent cuts and closures hitting children's books coverage hard.”

Covering one book a week is a “clear, achievable goal” that will have “huge benefits” for readers and buyers of children’s books, he added. “When newspapers ignore children's books, they send out a message that those books don't matter, that childhood reading doesn't matter, that literacy doesn't matter.  I think that's an incredibly damaging and short-sighted message to be sending out.”

Said praised the Sunday Times and the Sun for their commitment to children’s books but said he was “concerned” about the Guardian’s print coverage. “It's brilliant to see their new monthly roundup feature covering a wide range of children's literature, but a few lines in a monthly roundup is no substitute for weekly long reviews. I'd like to see both.”

Anyone who wishes to add their name to the letter can sign online.

 

The open letter in full:

We note with sadness the recent cuts and closures that have affected children's books coverage in UK newspapers. We have sympathy for media organisations trying to survive at a difficult time. However, we believe that where newspapers still cover books, a fair proportion of their coverage should go to children's books.

Before these cuts, children's books were receiving just 3% of newspaper review coverage. Yet children's books now account for over 30% of the UK book market. The crucial importance of reading for pleasure at a young age has been well documented, and many authors, illustrators, publishers, booksellers, librarians, teachers and experts feel this is a golden age for children's literature.

At such a time, we believe that national newspapers should cover at least one children's book a week. Weekly coverage is vital to help those who buy children's books to find regular information on a wide range of literature. This is already the stated policy of bestselling newspapers such as the Sun and the Sunday Times, and it has in the past been the policy of others.

We therefore call on all UK national newspapers to commit to covering at least one children's book a week, and to ensuring that children's literature receives a fair proportion of coverage.

Yours faithfully,

SF Said (author, founder of #CoverKidsBooks campaign)

The full list of people who have signed the letter can be found here.