World Book Day has reiterated its commitment to promoting a “diverse range of authors” after criticisms about the lack of writers of colour in its 2017 selection.
The World Book Day 2017 titles were announced last week and include David Walliams, Enid Blyton and Jacqueline Wilson but no BAME writers.
Author Nikesh Shukla protested against the selection, saying he was “really sad” about the authors chosen and that “we need to see ourselves” in books
“If you’re a BAME parent with a kid who doesn't read and you want to inspire them to, giving them a book they can see themselves in is a start,” he said. “My daughter sees herself in the books we curate for her and she is a voracious reader. She is two. And she sits by herself flicking through books. That's by design not accident. We found books with brown kids. We let her see herself. And now she wants to read all the time.”
He added: “We’ve not come very far.”
In response, World Book Day director Kirsten Grant said the books are chosen from a selection put forward by publishers. “Each year, publishers are invited to nominate their authors to write a £1 World Book Day book. Ten authors are then chosen by a panel made up of representatives from across the bookselling industry, as well as World Book Day itself.
“The brief is a challenging one, in that the £1 books need to offer something for all age ranges, reading levels and needs. The panel aims to choose as diverse a range of authors as possible from the names that are put forward".
She said: “World Book Day exists to promote a love of reading in children and young people by providing free books to those who might not otherwise have a book of their own. It is a charity that relies on the support of the publishing and bookselling industries.”