Books 'can help kids cope with problematic online images'

Books 'can help kids cope with problematic online images'


Author Michael Rosen has said sex in teenage fiction can help young people deal with “problematic images” on the internet. 

And current children's laureate Malorie Blackman also said books provide a safer environment for kids than the internet.

The duo were speaking alongside writer Jacqueline Wilson during an edition of BBC Radio 4's "Open Books", broadcast on the 29th December.

Rosen said teenagers will investigate sex through both books and the internet. “It’s not an either/or situation,” he said, adding: “The book may help them deal with the problematic images they’ve seen on the screen. Books go through a filtering system. In a way, a children’s book is in loco parentis.”

Blackman said: “I would rather children learnt about sex and making love within the context of a teenage book, where it is done responsibly, rather than learning about it from the internet and porn,” she said.

During the show Blackman also spoke about the importance of engaging with teenagers.

“The laureate before me was Julia Donaldson and she concentrated on younger children. I just felt it was time for the laureate to focus on the older age range and the books I’m best known for are my teenage books, so it seemed to me to fulfil that remit,” she said.

She added that older children are under such pressure from school and exams that “sometimes reading for pleasure becomes even more challenging”.

Blackman is next year curating the for the first UK Young Adult Literature Convention (YALC) and said the location - the London Film and Comic Con 2014 (LFCC) – will help attract teenagers with all kinds of interests.

“For teenagers it’s such an interesting place to hold it because we can bring books into that environment where you’ve got film and TV and games and all the rest of it,” she said.  

All three authors were asked to name one of their favourite classic children’s novels, as well as one recently published. Rosen went for Emil and the Detectives by Erich Kastner (Red Fox Classics) as his classic book, and Dark Lord by Jamie Thomson (Orchard Books) as his newer favourite.

Blackman chose The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis (Harper Collins) as her classic, and Wonder by R. J. Palacio (Corgi Children’s) as the new book. Wilson opted for What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge (Wordsworth Children’s Classics) as the classic and Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell (Faber & Faber) as the new.