World Book Day criticised for favouring celebrities over children’s authors
In the UK, children’s book authors have criticised World Book Day organisers for the number of celebrity-authored titles chosen for next year’s events, reports the Guardian.
Authors including David Almond and Anthony McGowan led the criticism of the lineup, announced on 29 September, which includes books from The Great British Bake Off-winner Nadiya Hussain, musician Tom Fletcher, comedian Julian Clary and broadcaster Clare Balding.
McGowan said he had always ‘tried to remain sanguine’ about celebrities writing children’s books. ‘But the decision to load the 2018 World Book Day promotion with celebrities seems to be a disaster–a step change that signals something rotten in the system,’ said McGowan.
McGowan said the organisers could have ‘scattered gold dust over the whole operation by headlining with well-known children’s writers, and used the rest of the list to promote diversity’. ‘Instead they decided to promote not books, but the grasping celebrities–comedians and TV personalities, a decommissioned pop star … It’s a cheap and tawdry way of saying that fame matters more than writing talent.’
In response, World Book Day director Kirsten Grant said the list features ‘a mix of names that children will already know and love, as well as those that we hope they will discover for the first time’, and that each of the fiction titles will also ‘contain an extract by an up-and-coming author, to enable children to continue their reading journey and discover great new authors’.
The 21st annual World Book Day will be held on 1 March 2018. Nearly 15 million book vouchers are distributed through schools to children in the UK and Ireland, which can be exchanged for one of the 10 participating titles at bookstores.