Thursday, June 05, 2008

no to age banding

I rarely put my name to a cause. I believe in family, kindness, and generally not throwing about what little weight I have. And that's about it.

A few weeks ago, I received a mail-to-all-authors letter from my publisher outlining pre-agreed plans within the industry to stamp all books for children and young adults with age-guidelines. My first response was to accept it as a fait accompli .

Unusually for me, despite thinking the whole idea to be foolish in the extreme, I chose to file it in the bin. I guess I just rolled over.

Several weeks on, I'm delighted to see that writers, librarians and readers with spine have come together to voice a protest. It's one I support wholeheartedly. Books should be open to everyone, regardless of age.

Anything on the cover that tells a reader or parent that it's above or beneath them is simply patronising. If it doesn't float your boat, put it down or learn from the experience. Don't be instructed by a sticker conjured up by committee. Check out the cover, the title and the blurb - that's where the art is. Y'know, even leaf through a couple of pages.

Should you take a chance on a 'dangerous' title and it opens your eyes to a whole new way of seeing the world then good on you for expanding your horizons. And if it's rubbish then at the very least the experience will sharpen your critical faculties.

Readers at every level are intelligent individuals. You're capable of making your own decisions about the books you read. This seems to me a simple fact, and if you agree then put your name to the campaign for No Age Banding.

More immediately, when are they going to arrange the list of signature authors in order of importance ;o)

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