Bestselling children’s author Philip Ardagh has penned an open letter to Simon Cowell recommending he enlist the services of a librarian in discovering good children’s books after he called them all “boring”.
Celebrity television and music producer Cowell told American TV channel Extra that he had been inspired to write a children’s book about animals following the birth of his son Eric, saying: “… I’ve had to read a lot of these children’s books and they’re quite boring, I think I could do it better.”
The comments have prompted High in the Clouds author Ardagh to pen an open letter to Cowell published on Facebook urging him to seek recommendations from a librarian and support the profession in finding thrilling books for him and his son to read.
Ardagh wrote: “Dear Mr Cowell, no doubt you’ve already received a lot of flak from my fellow children’s authors regarding your announcement that you might give writing children’s books a go. It comes with the territory…I’m more interested in the reason you gave: that a lot of the children’s books you read to your son are ‘quite boring.’ That could well be true. As with pop music and TV shows, there’s good and bad stuff out there…which is where professional librarians come in. A good librarian can point you in the direction of some amazing books for your son, whatever his age and interests. There really are some wonderful children’s books waiting to be shared, and a professional librarian can help you access them.”
He continued: “As you may well be aware, public libraries have been closing at an alarming rate in the UK these past few years and many of those remaining open no longer have professional staff. So, whether you choose to get into children’s publishing or not, it would be wonderful if you’d show your support for libraries and librarians with a kind word or two.”
Ardagh added it was “great” that Cowell spoke publicly about reading to his son, now two-years old. “May you share many brilliant books together, whether by you or by other people,” he concluded.
Michael Rosen, author of We’re Going on a Bear Hunt, has also waded in to say there are "thousands" of great kids books to read. “I am very pleased that Simon Cowell is writing a children’s book," he said. "The more often famous and popular people write books, the more popular children’s books become. There are thousands of wonderful kid’s book out there to read. Welcome to the party, Simon.”
Meanwhile Yvonne Murphy, book buyer for Scholastic Clubs and Fairs 0-5 years, has put together a list of books parents can read aloud to their children, including titles by Daivd Walliams and Julia Donaldson.
“We have such a lot of picture book talent in the UK with fantastic books to suit every interest,” she said. “To support parents reading aloud with their children we’ve selected some of the favourite books that children and parents tell us they love, all including lovely animals. We hope they’re a great starting point for mums and dads to share with their children – we hope Simon and Eric like them too.”
Earlier today (24th May), Stephen Fry was revealed as a face of a new poster campaign backing libraries produced by the Chartered Institute of Chief Librarians (CILIP).
According to figures from The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), 343 libraries have closed in the UK since David Cameron became prime minister in 2010, while library funding has dropped by £180m.