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?
The author of Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne, once said that 'organising is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up'. This coalition government has demonstrated a boldly pragmatic and non-ideological mindset since taking office. Nevertheless, there is a danger that on planning, the Government is ideologically dismissing an integrated approach in favour of extending responsibility to communities. Localism is great for running a local park, but it cannot provide integrated national solutions to the big environmental challenges facing the UK.