Ten years ago there was talk of taking the price off book jackets leaving shops to charge whatever they wanted, on the basis that RRP (recommended retail prices) had already become meaningless.
Shine author Candy Gourlay on ‘The Invention of the Teenager’ – a really thoughtful and thought-provoking blog post with a large number of video-clip references.
Very Highly Recommended
The events for Children and Young Adults at this year’s Oxford Literary Festival have now all been booked and confirmed, and what a fine programme Nicolette Jones has put together.
Follow the link below to see the full listing and to book your tickets.
A single page listing all the titles (bar those currently featured) picked out in ACHUKA’s category pages during 2013.
The list is randomised on each page load.
An episdoe from BBC’s Timeshift series, featuring The Ladybird Books Story, screened on TV Sunday 22 December but viewable on iPlayer:
To millions of people, Ladybird books were as much a part of childhood as battery-powered torches and warm school milk. These now iconic pocket-sized books once informed us on such diverse subjects as how magnets work, what to look for in winter and how to make decorations out of old eggshells. But they also helped to teach many of us to read via a unique literacy scheme known as ‘key words’. Ladybird books were also a visual treat – some of the best-known contemporary illustrators were recruited to provide images which today provide a perfect snapshot of the lost world of Ladybirdland: a place that is forever the gloriously ordinary, orderly 1950s
Zoe Toft, on the Playing by the Book blog:
This time of year the colour supplements and review sections of newspapers always feature articles I enjoy, with authors recommending their favourite reads of the past year. But these articles rarely feature authors and illustrators whose work is enjoyed by the 0-teens. Whilst the Children’s Laureate or a media-genic YA/Crossover author might be included, the fact that children’s books make up almost 25% of booksales (in the UK) is definitely not proportionally reflected in these round-up articles. So this year I decided to do something about that, and produce the sort of article I’d like to read in the review section: Favourite reads of 2013 as chosen by (children’s) authors and illustrators.
Booktime, run by Booktrust and Pearson, will give away its ten millionth book to four year old Ruby on today’s Daybreak programme. Appearing alongside Loose Women presenter and Coronation Street actress Sally Lindsay, who acts as the ambassador for Booktime this year, Ruby will be given her book pack on live breakfast TV.
Booktime (www.booktime.org.uk) has been giving books to reception-aged children for eight years, and is about to give out its ten millionth book. The scheme aims to inspire a lifelong love of reading, giving two free books to 765,000 reception-aged children in England and Wales in the 2013-2014 year of school. This year’s books for children in England are Charlie and Lola’s But Excuse Me That is My Book, published by Puffin, an imprint of Penguin Children’s, and Tom’s Mad Mop, from the Bug Club series by Pearson UK, part of Pearson’s education business. Four to five-year-olds in Wales will receive Charlie and Lola’s But Excuse Me That is My Book as well as a Welsh language title. In addition, every primary school and library can also access free guidance and activity sheets on the Booktime website, with extra resources for libraries and parents also available.
Leading personalities including Mount Pleasant actress and Loose Women presenter Sally Lindsay, comedian Lenny Henry, TV presenters Holly Willoughby, Piers Morgan, Matthew Wright and ITN’s Julie Etchingham, along with Malorie Blackman, Waterstone’s Children’s Laureate, have joined forces to lend their support to this initiative that encourages parents and carers to spend time reading for pleasure with their children.
This year, for the first time, children, together with their parents and carers, can log onto the Booktime website www.booktime.org.uk for free e-books to read online from Pearson. They will also be able to listen to the books being read aloud as well as access free games and activities.
Writing in the New Yorker, Alexandra Schwartz praises the bookshops of France in general, and of Paris in particular, and then gets a nasty surprise when she pays a return visit to the legendary Shakespeare & Co.
When I arrived this time, a line had formed in front of the shop. People waited placidly, snapping iPhone photos to bring back to their bookstore-deficient nations. The doors were closed. I went to reach for the handle just as they opened to emit a pair of nuns, and a dark-haired woman stuck out her head and called, “Next two, please.”
Failing to understand, I tried to move past her. She blocked my way. The shop had too many visitors to fit inside at once, she explained. Would I just stand to the side and wait my turn?
A bookstore that has become a monument to itself, even a wildly popular monument, has lost its living essence. If this is what the French are trying to protect against, good luck to them. Rebuffed by Shakespeare, I did what you do when you have the luxury of choice, and went around the corner to the Abbey Bookshop, on the Rue de la Parcheminerie, where I found Kushner’s book smack in the middle of the shelf, right next to Kundera and Lawrence.
Anthony Horowitz was interviewed in Saturday’s UK Times.
Given that the online piece is only accessible to subscribers, I have selected several quotes, with brief commentary.
He says early on in the interview, with reference to the much-publicised letter to The Times signed by a host of children’s authors and experts in early childhood:
“I thought the letter was weak and unhelpful,” he said. “Of course we all want to do better for our kids, but that doesn’t mean Michael Gove doesn’t. Nobody on the Left seems to want to give him any credit for wanting to help the situation.They endlessly demonise him. But I admire him because he’s actually doing something, not sitting there doing what the letter suggested — consult, have committees, hear what the teachers and the children have to say — which are synonymous with doing absolutely nothing.”
Hardly a position that will endear him to the majority of his fellow authors. But Horowitz has never minded being a maverick, and actually, when you take into account the things he says in the remainder of the feature, he is not as supportive of Gove as that first quote indicates.
Immediately afterwards, he is saying:
“There are far too many expectations now of children. They must get A stars and go to university and compete and perform from the day they arrive at school. Actually it’s all nonsense. Adults muddle through without constantly being graded and children should too. I feel sorry for kids who are constantly expected to perform and shine for parents and politicians who do neither.”
And then, before long he is sounding even less in sympathy with Gove:
Education, he said, should be a process of self-discovery rather than an endless round of tests. “It’s about enlarging your interests and stirring your curiosity, not coming away waving a piece of paper after endless cramming and resits. It must be soul-destroying for teachers and children knowing that all adults seem to care about is boosting national targets and statistics that have no meaning. It’s communist.”
He even takes Gove to task over specific policy:
In Horowitz’s view, the Education Secretary has gone too far in wanting children to read only Middlemarch rather than Twilight. “They need a bit of everything. What matters is that children have the time, leisure and enthusiasm to read, even if it is about vampires.
“Alan Johnson kindly said children shouldn’t read Pride and Prejudice, they should read me. Michael Gove has taken the opposite view and is trying to force great literature down kids through his new curriculum. That’s insane . . . When I was 7, was I reading Thackeray? No, I was reading Tintin. I have visited almost every country he goes to except Tibet and the Moon. It was Tintin who inspired me to write.”
And then, echoing David Almond’s distaste for media’s negative portrayal of children and teenagers:
Horowitz, who has two grown-up boys of his own, worries that adults spend too much time denigrating teenagers. “I go round many schools to talk to children and they are fantastic — more pleasant and generous in spirit than our generation.
“Social networking has given them more sociability and a cohesion we never had. We all buried ourselves in our private lives and lost touch with each other. The younger generation is so much more aware of each other’s successes and difficulties. When a friend of mine died his house was filled with teenagers who wanted to comfort his son.”
There is, in his view, too much angst about the modern world. “We have got in a complete tizzy about pornography and it needs to stop. Every child will not be destroyed by looking at porn on the internet. Yes, there are some very nasty things online but the internet’s force for good is considerably greater and children learn to discriminate.”
It all adds up to someone who sounds very much to be more in the camp of the Times letter’s signatories rather than in that of the man he purports to admire.