The 51-year-old author of the Noughts & Crosses teenage book series vowed to use her two-year tenure to “bang the drum” for diversity, saying it was vital for young people to learn about different cultures.
“Children will go with any story as long as its good but white adults sometimes think that if a black child’s on the cover it is perhaps not for them,” she said.
“Books teach children to see the world through the eyes of others and empathise with others. It’s about the story.”
Blackman, a London-born author whose parents came to Britain from Barbados, said there was a distinct lack of black and Asian children in picture books.
She said that when she was younger, she never once read a book that featured a black child, which left her feeling “totally invisible”.
Malorie Blackman, author of the bestselling Noughts and Crosses series, hopes her appointment as the first black Children’s Laureate will help encourage children from a diverse background to read more.
Ms Blackman, who replaces outgoing laureate Julia Donaldson, was presented with the medal and a £15,000 bursary cheque in King’s Place in London today. She told The Independent: “I feel really excited and just a tad daunted. I can’t wait to get cracking.”
The prolific author of child and teenage fiction will use the platform to call on infant and primary school teachers to spend at least 10 minutes every day on storytelling.
“I’d like to ensure every child of a primary school age has a library card. Where the parents haven’t got one for their child, the schools will step in and make sure they have one,” she added.
Author Malorie Blackman is announced as the new children’s laureate, taking over from Julia Donaldson for the next two years. Three competition winners ask her questions submitted to the Guardian’s children’s books site, including what she intends to do as laureate; how to encourage reading; how to avoid writers’ block; and her recipe for a brilliant book
Go to the link to watch the 8-minute video.
And, Hooray for Malorie!
The UK’s outgoing Children’s Laureate:
BRITAIN’S failure to value children’s literature may be an indication that Britons do not value their children, according to Julia Donaldson, the outgoing children’s laureate.
In an interview with The Sunday Times, Donaldson, whose best-known book The Gruffalo has sold millions of copies worldwide, said: “Children’s literature deserves the same respect as adult literature.
“I do feel very strongly in this country that not much store is set by children’s books by the media.
“Is it because we don’t value children? Yes, that does seem likely. In other countries it’s a very different story.”
Although children’s books account for nearly a quarter of all book sales in Britain, Donaldson, whose term of office ends on Tuesday, said less than a fiftieth of review space in printed newspapers was dedicated to them.
Please note the longlist spreads across two separate HTML pages.
These are Australian awards.
The Inky Awards are for teen literature, voted for online by the readers of insideadog.com.au, and named after the site’s wonder-dog, Inky. There are two awards: the Gold Inky for an Australian book, and the Silver Inky for an international book.
What is the future for bookshops? And indeed for books? This is a commonly asked question – and a particularly relevant one for me, since I own a bookshop and I write books. I ask it again this week because I have just read that Stephen King, an ebook pioneer 10 years ago, has released his new novel in physical format only, because he wants to get people back into bookstores rather than online.
when it comes to bookshops versus Amazon, bookshops are in an impossible position. Our staff are knowledgeable, charming and brilliant. The shop is beautiful, and we sell proper cakes and coffee. What happens? People lounge around and chat and browse for a couple of hours, spend £2.50, then buy books online they have researched in our shop.
Why? Because they are so much cheaper. Why are they cheaper? Because in 1997, in a fit of free-market liberalism, we did away with the Net Book Agreement, which had prohibited booksellers from discounting. It was a pleasingly guild-like system, one that is still used today by lawyers, doctors and drugs companies – those professional groups that still look after their own.
One problem in all this is that publishers no longer seem to like books. They think of themselves as groovy Californian libertarian tech-heads. I winced when I read that the chairman of Penguin said that books could change in the future and be filled “with cool stuff”. I think “cool stuff” as a phrase should be banned if you are the head of a venerable English publishing company. [my emphasis]
Publishing CEOs have two main tasks: reducing costs and maximising revenues. Hence, they impoverish their staff and writers. And to do the latter, they lick the bottoms of Amazon, WH Smith and Tesco while ignoring independents. Here is a very depressing quote from the head of Bloomsbury: “Fewer books are being sold through high-street shops as ebook sales are continuing to grow. However, there will be a place for the physical book for many more years albeit mainly sold online.”
For our part, we have tried to inject life into the literary scene by running a non-stop programme of events and courses. These are pretty well attended but the combined sales of books and events barely cover our basic costs. So we feel that we are slaving away, enriching other people. On the upside, our online sales are increasing. That leads us to conclude that the sensible option would be to operate from a warehouse on a Swindon industrial estate rather than a groovy boutique in west London. But where’s the romance in that?
An excellent feature by David Buckman (author of From Bow to Biennale) about the London artist, illustrator and designer Barnett Freedman (1901–1958) who was born in Stepney. An equally talented yet less-well-known contemporary of Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious, his work deserves to be enjoyed by a wider audience.
Includes many examples of Freedman’s work…
with thanks to Peter Bailey for bringing this to my attention, via Facebook
More from man-of-the-moment, Matt Haig, in his final BookTrust blog post, in which he runs though some different ways in which books could be made more popular. I’ve only quoted his final exhortation, so follow the link to get the full post…
– Remember that books aren’t going anywhere. E-books won’t replace books, they will become them (electronic paper is on its way). Your Kindle will look old-fashioned in ten years but a book won’t. Stop worrying. Words and stories and narrative and novels are here to stay. Books are maps. They will remain the best way we have of exploring our imaginations and finding thoughts and emotions buried like treasure inside us. Never, for one moment, dismiss or mock or belittle or doubt the world-shaking human power of a book.
In a guest post on the Gav Reads blog, Matt Haig listed 10 explanations for his addictive use of Twitter and Facebook to self-promote his work. Here are reasons 8 through to 10. Follow the link below for the full list.
8. I try and be honest. Most writers on Twitter are selling themselves in some way, some do it in more subtle ways than others. I am not very subtle. If I want you to buy my book you will probably know about it. You can unfollow me. I honestly don’t mind. I have people unfollow me, some others follow me. Some people will be against any writer promoting themselves. Fine. Better not follow me. I would far rather you unfollow me than you get grumpy or sad or despairing each time I share a review. It is not ego, it is wanting to stay employed in a job I love.
9. I have made some genuine friendships via Twitter and Facebook, and some of them have been formed after people got to know me through my books, which they’d only heard about because I had banged on about them.
10. The idea that writers are above promotion is a kind of arrogant one, no? I mean, most other people who work for themselves – photographers,musicians, plumbers, architects, wedding planners, electricians, actors – are expected to go out and sell what they do. Writers aren’t any different. We create something, and the reason we create it is because we want people to read it. (Why else would we bother? Why wouldn’t we keep it under the bed?) I know a bit about promotion, from a former career, and I use that knowledge. I never write for the market (or I’d be writing thrillers). I have no shame about it. The main theme of my books is that humans are thwarted by shame, so I try and fight that anxiety within myself, which is hard as I am British, and no one here likes a poppy trying to rise. Every word I write in a novel is a kind of appeal to connect with my fellow species (I was the sad lonely kid on the playground – it’s all about that), and now the internet means that desire can spill over. The tentacles can reach further. I push books I write, and those I read. I probably should get out more, but there you go.
Just when you think that children’s books are getting better than ever, something like this comes along: Judith Kerr’s Creatures: A Celebration of Her Life and Work. The book is published on Thursday to mark the 90th birthday of the beloved children’s writer and illustrator, and it contains 176 large, beautiful pages of nostalgia for anyone who has been a child in the past half century.
The book is a form of autobiography, in which Kerr’s drawings from all ages illustrate her life story. It begins with a story about drawing a tulip in her German kindergarten and a sketch of a typical family outside a typical house. But it is not a typical sketch: the little girl, “Ich”, appears to be lighting a bonfire and the little boy has found a bunny rabbit under a holly bush. “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to draw,” she writes.