Children’s author and professor Michael Rosen has hit out at the mainstream media over the lack of coverage of this year’s Laugh Out Loud Book Awards (known as the Lollies).
The winners of this year’s Lollies, given annually for funny children’s books, were only reported in the trade press and Rosen said the media love “bad news stories” but don’t engage with positive stories about children reading.
“If, say, a group of children's writers made a big negative claim about children and reading, we would be sure to get a spread in the media,” he told The Bookseller. “This is a positive story about adults producing books that children want to read. For them, it's a nothing. it's a non-story.
“We have created an event which celebrates the kinds of books that hundreds of thousands of children want to read. We constantly hear about reading, literacy, and whether books are on the decline in the face of digital entertainment. Here was a chance to highlight books that appeal.”
He said children’s book journalists like Nicolette Jones, Imogen Russell Williams and Julia Eccleshare are making “huge efforts” to get more space in newspapers but “clearly it’s very difficult”.
Newspapers could publish ‘children’s book corners’, publish more reviews and interviews, ask celebrities which books they read as children, or feature clips from film and TV adaptations, he suggested.
Rosen is professor of children’s literature at Goldsmiths and said academics who specialise in children’s books “don’t get a hearing’, either. “ There is now a raft of children's literature scholars who have their PhDs under their belt who should be appearing on TV programmes, radio programmes and articles in places like the Times Literary Supplement or the London Review of Books talking about themes and issues in children's books. It's perverse that they hardly ever get a look in.”
Rosen launched the Lollies with Scholastic in 2015 after the Roald Dahl Estate announced they were closing down the Roald Dahl Prize for funny books. This year’s winners were Liz Pichon, Emer Stamp and Elys Dolan.