The children’s laureate Malorie Blackman wants to make electronic books more available to children. In an event at The Telegraph Bath Festival of Children’s Literature she said we must do everything we can to encourage children to read, whatever the medium.
"If you want to read on a smart device, all power to you," she said. "It’s about having great stories available, and making sure that children find these books irresistible. I personally love printed books. But as long as children are reading on some device, I’m an advocate of that."
She said there is too much snobbery attached to children’s reading. "When I was at school, I used to love comics, and I remember my teacher marching up to me and ripping the comic out of my hand," she said. "We’ve got to encourage children to read for pleasure and read whatever takes their fancy and not be ashamed of that."
London Gets Its Own Young Poet Laureate
Warsan Shire has been appointed the first young poet laureate for London. The 24-year-old will take on the post for the next year.
Shire’s role was announced by poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy at the Houses of Parliament today (3rd October), National Poetry Day.
The Kenyan-born Somali poet has given readings around the world, and featured in The Salt Book of Younger Poets (Salt). Her first book, Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, was published by Flipped Eye Publishing in 2011.
The children’s laureate, Malorie Blackman, has attacked the government for failing to intervene to stop local authorities closing libraries, arguing that they should be ringfenced from spending cuts.
At least 347 libraries shut their doors for the last time in the first two years of the coalition government and, as austerity measures continue to bite, putting pressure on councils to slash funding, campaigners have warned that 400 more could be axed over the next three years.
In many cases the cutbacks have prompted fierce protests and Blackman, appointed children’s laureate in June, has added her voice to the dissent.
Malorie Blackman has written the seventh short story in a range celebrating Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary.
Puffin Books have been publishing the 11-part series as ebooks every month since January 23, with the final installment due to arrive on November 23, the date of the Eleventh Doctor’s anniversary adventure.
For July, newly appointed Children’s Laureate Blackman has contributed The Ripple Effect, which sees the Seventh Doctor and his companion, Ace, battle Daleks with a difference – they’re peace-loving.
A teaser for the book says that upon encountering these friendly Daleks, the Doctor, “ever suspicious of his arch-enemies’ motives, learns of a threat that could literally tear the universe apart”.
Blackman, who has “loved Doctor Who” since childhood, said that she agreed immediately when she was asked to be part of the anniversary series.
Feature article by Nick Tucker about Anne Fine, to coincide with publication of her new YA novel, Blood Family:
The author of over 50 children’s books, Anne Fine has now produced possibly her most contentious novel yet. Aimed at young adults, but reaching out to older readers too, Blood Family describes how young Eddie, along with his mentally destroyed mother, is locked away for four of his first seven years by his sadistic drunken father. It’s strong stuff from a writer who is never afraid to be outspoken, and our interview could go anywhere. A still youthful 65-year-old, she has travelled to London from Barnard Castle in County Durham, where she lives with her long-term partner Dick Warren. Settling down in a dark tea room on Kings Cross Station, within a moment she is on her feet again when a neighbouring baby half-tips out of his pram. Would that some of the onlookers in her novel had shown a similar state of concern.
A long profile of the new Children’s Laureate, by Susanna Rustin, in which Malorie Blackman pledges to pay more attention to teenagers than her predecessors
"I think younger children have been incredibly well served by the laureates we’ve had, but maybe teenagers haven’t had as much of a look-in, so I’m looking forward to redressing the balance," she said.
Good to see the new Laureate’s role and words being listened to and taken seriously from the off.
In this interesting piece, Howard Jacobson considers two of Malorie Blackman’s statements:
The first is: “I still remember feeling I was totally invisible in the world of literature.” And the second: “I understand you need to learn about Henry VIII, but when I was young I wanted to learn about something that felt more relevant.”
Jacobson politely but convincingly picks these statements apart to reveal a profound disagreement.
Not my paper of choice, but Martin Chilton, Culture Editor for the Telegraph Online, writes some good pieces and his coverage yesterday of Malorie Blackman’s appointment as Children’s Laureate was a good example.
When we spoke at the Telegraph Hay Festival last week, she joked that she remembers when the cry “there’s a black person on the telly” would have had her family running down the stairs to check out this rare phenomenon. “There were so few black role models on TV. That’s why I loathe Gone With The Wind. In the 1970s TV shows black people were often just slaves or criminals.”
One exception was Nichelle Nichol, who played Lieutenant Uhura aboard the USS Enterprise in Star Trek. Blackman relates, with great respect, the story of how Nichol was treated badly and wanted to leave the series but was persuaded to stay so she could continue presenting a strong image of a black officer. The man who persuaded her was Martin Luther King. Blackman, incidentally, has remained a Star Trek fanatic (she has a replica uniform and raves about Benedict Cumberbatch in the new film).
As well as being extremely well-read – 15,000 books are crammed throughout her home – she has a popular touch and exudes a natural empathy with children and teenagers. This sense of knowing how difficult life can be for teenagers is also what makes her such an interesting choice for Laureate.
She has no time for the “demonisation” of young people and describes the lack of youth facilities and poor employment prospects for many teenagers as “scandalous”. Blackman will not be a quiet Laureate.
A specially commissioned animation to celebrate the choice of Malorie Blackman as the new Children’s Laureate 2103-15
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”.