The Times gives coverage to Jonathan Emmett’s campaign for greater representation by men in all aspects of children’s publishing, reviewing and award judging:
Emmett’s study of more than 450 reviews in five national newspapers found that while 47 per cent of the picture books and 41 per cent of the children’s fiction books featured were written by men, less than 20 per cent of the picture book reviews and less than a third of the fiction reviews were by men.
Emmett, a former winner of the Red House Children’s Book Award for Pigs Might Fly, said that of the 30-50 editors he had dealt with, only two were male. He estimates that 95 per cent of picture books were bought for children by women.
“Mums and grans buy books — that’s what is driving the market,” he said. “So even if a book is meant to be particularly appealing to boys there’s tendency for its content to reflect the female buyer’s taste as well.
“So picture book pirates tend to be a lot more tame than those on TV or in films.
“The number of times that I have tried to get technical information into a book and it is deemed inappropriate. It is one of the things that leads boys, and girls with boy-typical tastes, to say ‘I am not really interested in that kind of content, I am more interested in video games’.”
He added that “illustrators with a flair for technology were also more likely to want to work in the films, TV or game industry where their enthusiasms were better reflected.”