Children’s author S F Said is today (1st February) launching a campaign encouraging newspapers to give more space to children’s book reviews.
The author decided to launch his campaign after teaming up with Imogen Russell Williams, a children’s literature critic, to monitor a wide range of national newspapers for a month. They found children's books currently got 3% of all book review space in newspapers published in August 2015, even though they account for 30% of the UK book market.
“I can’t help but feel that there remains a prejudice around children’s literature; a sense that it’s somehow not literature and not a proper subject for reviews,” he told The Bookseller. “This kind of dismissive attitude has no place in today’s world. Since the 1990s, children’s books have come to occupy a central place in the cultural landscape.”
Said, who writes middle-grade fantasy, and whose own books include Phoenix (David Fickling Books), also pointed out that reviews of children’s books are usually shorter than those for adults “so when they do appear, they get far less space”.
For the campaign, entitled #CoverKidsBooks, Said will encourage newspapers to give children’s books more space, starting with a series of interviews about this issue with authors, teachers, librarians, booksellers and parents online.
“Many people beyond the children’s books world have strong views on this issue,” he said. “#CoverKidsBooks aims to create space for those voices, as well collecting statistics… If newspapers reflected the significance of children’s books as a sector of publishing there would be ten times more coverage than there is at present.”
He added: "This is a golden age for children's literature. By winning the overall Costa Book Of The Year, Frances Hardinge's The Lie Tree shows that there are children's books being written today that are in truth books for everyone. Yet they are routinely ignored by national newspapers, who are missing the biggest story in publishing today. Newspapers need to wake up to this golden age, and give children's books the space and coverage they so richly deserve."