Put a ring on it

Put a ring on it

It’s been quite a controversial few days in the realms of children’s literature.

On Friday, a piece of research into how children’s books have become darker emerged. The debate continued on Monday, triggered by a discussion on "BBC Breakfast" with children's authors G P Taylor and Patrick Ness on whether there should be age certificates for children's books.

The Guardian covered it and the debate was also picked up by Twitter, which SFX rounds up brilliantly here.

The argument may bring back memories for many in the industry from a furore in 2008 when age banding was attempted by some publishers, and was met with a huge backlash from authors and librarians who were completely against the idea.

Today some publishers still keep suggested reading ages on their books as many book buyers find them very useful. At Hot Key Books, although we don’t agree with using age guidance, we do understand that people need help choosing books, and have come up with a simple idea – the Hot Key Ring!

The Hot Key Ring was inspired by the contents rings on supermarket packaging for food, and shows the contents or ‘ingredients’ of our books in a fun and accessible way. It will appear on the back of all of our books, just by the barcode, from August.

The ring above shows the contents of SHRUNK! by F R Hitchcock, which we’re classing as being a mixture of ‘fun’, ‘science’, ‘friendship’ and ‘magic’, with ‘fun’ being the main element.

The themes listed (others we're going to use include 'funny', 'historical' and 'gruesome'), their dominance, and the colours used will vary from book to book, but we hope they will prove useful to children—and parents—wanting to pick up a new read.