BookTrust c.e.o Diana Gerald has expressed disappointment that a BBC survey revealing which books children should read focuses only on the classics.
The BBC surveyed 1,000 parents for its Love to Read campaign, asking them which books children should read. All the titles in the top 10 were classic novels, with the number one choice being JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which was first released in 1997.
Gerald said: “It’s great that the BBC’s LovetoRead campaign is highlighting children’s books, but the results of the survey show how little we all know of the treasure chest available to children. Too often children are given ‘timeless classics’ to read, when there are so many other, newer books that are just as brilliant but can also talk to them about the world they know, in language that resonates with them.
“Classics are important, of course, but if we’re going to create a new generation of readers, we need to be bolder and more imaginative in the books we promote... We want children to enjoy reading, and that means finding books that excite them – whether that’s bleak dystopia, imaginative fantasy, fast-paced thrillers or comedies.”
The BBC’s list also included books by Harper Lee, Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl, and Gerald said the right book for a child might be Dahl, but it could also be one by Malorie Blackman, Cressida Cowell or Oliver Jeffers.
“We’re great fans of Pants by Giles Andreae and Nick Sharratt because children love shouting ‘pants’ every time they turn the page,” she said. “The point is that the wider variety of choice a child is given, the more likely they are to love reading. And that, after all, is what this is all about.”
Jonty Claypole, BBC Director of Arts, said: “Authors and books have always been at the heart of the BBC, but with #Lovetoread 2016 our ambition is to move reading further up our agenda; to include more people, let everyone have a say on the books that matter most to them and importantly inspire a new generation to love reading. We’ll work with leading partners and use the BBC’s full range of services - TV, radio and online, national and regional - to inspire the whole of Britain to join a unique national conversation about books.”
The BBC’s top ten recommended books:
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by J K Rowling
The BFG by Roald Dahl
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
The Famous Five by Enid Blyton
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler
The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien