Today is the final day that the Guardian are running their wonderful Children’s Books site. It’s a very sad day today for me, and for all writers and readers of children’s and young adult literature. On the plus side, the Guardian are incorporating children’s books reviews and some other aspects into their main site – but surely it can never be the same as having this very special, unique resource. The Guardian Children’s books site is something I’ve enjoyed practically every day for the last five years.
There are very few places in the national press where children’s books get any reviews, or much coverage at all, even though they account for over 30% of ALL book sales. Reviews in national papers are generally limited to a few books each month, often high profile books (ones publishers have invested heavily in), or ‘safe bet’ books written by authors who already have a good track record. The Guardian Children’s Books site was an exception – and provided a fantastic resource for everyone.
What made the site so different was its inclusivity. It gave space for children to write book reviews themselves, encouraging both reading and literacy. It provided a platform for authors to write articles about their new books, which almost always included lists of other children’s or YA books that inspired them. And where else do book illustrators get a chance to teach us how to draw a tiger, or a dinosaur?
As a former copywriter, I’m all too aware how important advertising revenue is to papers and magazines. Someone has to pay for content, because no one is going to volunteer to run an excellent site like the Guardian’s Children’s books site, on a daily basis, out of the goodness of their hearts. Yet the site provided one of the best resources for children, parents, booksellers, writers and educators – enabling all of us to discover great children’s books on all topics….and surely, by default, a site of great value to children’s book publishers too?
Rather than letting something as valuable as the Guardian Children’s books site disappear, I’d like to put forward a proposal. If every publisher of children’s books in Britain helped to sponsor it, not with specific advertising, but by providing a relatively small amount (by industry standards) towards maintaining it, perhaps we could keep it going?
Just a thought.