The 10 books selected to be £1 World Book Day promotion titles received harsh criticism from the likes of David Almond and Philip Pullman.
Comments made online made their way into mainstream reporting by the Telegraph:
Top children’s authors have hit out at World Book Day for picking £1 titles by a “clutch of celebrities” for next year’s event.
In a post online David Almond, author of Skellig, wrote that “the nation’s children are being shortchanged” by the decision to include four celebrity names among the ten chosen books.
Mr Almond added that “authors and illustrators are being scorned” by the selection, which includes books by comedians, TV presenters and former musicians.
Kirsten Grant, World Book Day director, has been forced to defend the list, saying:
“There are lots of hugely loved authors and brands on the list, from Mr Men to Paddington, to the Oi! series, as well as fabulous newer stars like Pamela Butchart – and yes, there are celebrity writers on the list (who have written their own books), but if they are the catalyst to encouraging a non-reader to pick up a book and start a nationwide conversation about reading, then everyone will be better off.”
The selection is chosen from books submitted by publishers by the charity alongside a panel of booksellers including Waterstones, WH Smith and supermarkets.
“The aim is to create a list of ten books that will appeal to the widest number of children possible, ensuring there is a representative list with something that will appeal to all ages and stages.
In the event’s inaugural year there was only one featured title, an anthology. For a while there were just 4 titles, each aimed at a different age demographic. Grant’s quoted comments do not address one of the main criticisms of the list, namely that there is nothing there for YA / older secondary school students.
When all is said and done, the £1 tokens do not have to be exchanged for any of the 10 books. The £1 can be used towards the cost of any book at all.