Celebrity authors and World Book Day books

It cannot have escaped your notice, if you are in the UK, that there is a lot of fuss about this year’s World Book day £1 book offering.  The problem centres around the fact that four of the books are by celebrities and one is a Marvel Comic.  Librarians and authors have been incensed by this, pointing out that in the past these WBD books have been successfully promoted as tasters, and children have gone on to read and love the authors represented – authors such as Malorie Blackman, Cressida Cowell, Robert Muchamore, David Almond to name but a few.  This article from the Guardian sums up the situation perfectly.  I know my Facebook feed and Twitter feed have been full in the last couple of days of people really angry about the fact that WBD isn’t about encouraging children to read books by excellent children’s authors, but seems to have fallen prey to the cult of celebrity instead.

This isn’t a new thought.  There have been questions about Zoella’s book club before, with opinion divided on what her choosing criteria are.  But this is different.  First World Book Day is turned into Dressing up Day – mostly by primaries and often nothing to do with books – and now there are fears that World Book Day is becoming just another outlet for already overexposed celebrities.

What do you think?  Do you think it is harmless, that children should just read? or do you support the authors who feel that their talent is being degraded by celebrities writing children’s books because, after all, how hard can it be? Very hard – judging by the Carnegie and Greenaway Award Winners!

Join in the debate!

One thought on “Celebrity authors and World Book Day books

  1. Such an interesting question and my reaction is different to what I thought it would be! I’m very new to being a school librarian, and prior to beginning this role I know I would have expected and wanted the shortlist to be full of ‘traditional’ authors, showcasing truly the best of children’s literature. But how do you define what the ‘best of’ is with such a broad range to choose from? And who is the shortlist targeting, what is the aim? In my view, from my early weeks managing a secondary school library with experience of my own book-loving four year old daughter, I would just love more and more children and teenagers to get into reading, whatever the books might be. There are now so many distractions in a busy world that reading, either from parent to child or reading themselves, is so often forgotten about, that having an engaging, captivating and memorable shortlist is what I feel is needed. I will always support the authors who have worked tirelessly at crafting their story to secure their publishing deal and feel there are lots of avenue available to do this, for example the Books in my Bag awards. If celebrity authors can get children into reading then there is more chance they will be reading a copy of one of our excellent children’s authors in the future, and not gaming on their iphone.

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