Children, like adults, have the right to see books that reflect the world around them, and the broader world, too. That means, yes, featuring different races, cultures, genders, sexual orientations, religions, abilities, classes, ages, and so on, and also exploring political, moral, physical, and emotional issues
Everyone knows that children's literature can't possibly be high quality, right? It doesn't count as proper literary fiction, does it? It can't make people consider big issues or challenge ideas of genre, can it? This week, the University of Kent's creative writing programme embarrassed itself by its advertising strategy, followed by a series of rather ignorant tweets.
Children's minds are hungry, receptive places that seek out information and ideas. The more engagingly presented these ideas can be, the better. And they don't need to be mind-bending fantasy to appeal to, or have an effect on, a child. Stories that chime more of a familiar chord are just as valuable.
"Never underestimate your audience. If you think that eight-year-olds aren't interested in major philosophical and political issues you are completely mistaken. Put in clever plot twists that link books two and book 10 in a complicated fashion. I promise you, the eight-year-olds will notice, and they will write to you saying how much they appreciate it."
It was quite overwhelming to find the roots of our story were as the result of one incredible lady's inspiration and determination - and what a coincidence that Alfie Tate, one of the characters in the book had drawn a bird on his copper leaf, in memory of his teacher, because they had both "jumped for joy when they saw the first swallows of summer."
One of the best ways to foster creativity in children is to read to them or, better yet, to make up stories with them, and fathers in particular have an important role to play in this: it's long been recognised that the more a dad reads to his children, the greater their verbal intelligence, academic success and emotional wellbeing.
The pleasures and benefits of reading are still denied to many children - in 2012, one in eight left primary school unable to read to the required standard. Beanstalk trains volunteers to give one-to-one support to children who have fallen behind with their reading, using the delights of storytelling to enthuse and enrich them.
At last great news for libraries! And it's the children who are putting their giant stamp of authority on the matter. Not only are there six writers of children's books amongst the top ten most borrowed authors of 2011/12 but children's fictions titles were borrowed a staggering 81.8 million times over that period.