I believe characters in stories should be as diverse as the people who read them, but only a very small handful of children's books feature a deaf character. There are more than 45,000 deaf children in the UK. Most are born to hearing parents and go to mainstream schools where they may be the only deaf child, so they can feel quite isolated.
So, in a project I went in search of picture books that represented disability. The project was driven by my personal belief that picture books could be an effective and successful way of opening up a conversation about disability, which can subsequently enable a child to understand and accept disability in real life.
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
Friday 13 September 2013 is Roald Dahl Day. It falls on the anniversary of his birthday; he would have been ninety-eight. Celebrated today as one of the great British children's authors of the twentieth century, his work is remembered fondly as part of that period of life which is playful, carefree and unburdened by adult responsibility.
One day, books will be like antiques. A standard paperback will cost hundreds of pounds depending on the year and edition. War and Peace will be out of print. And I will be an old lady with only dreams of ghosts of cats, telling the illiterate kids on the block how these same streets were once paved in books, each one costing less than a halfpenny.
Amidst all the wonderful British quirkiness at the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games, there was a sequence dedicated both to the NHS and children's literature. This might seem like a strange combination, but director Danny Boyle linked them through the Great Ormond Street Hospital, which focuses on children's healthcare.
But many view children's literature as beneath them. If it's not for 'grownups', it's not worthwhile. But, wait, here's a sneaky little problem: what about all the 'grownups' who read and enjoy Rowling's work and other children's books? Shouldn't we explore why these works appeals to adults who are apparently supposed to know better?