The good and bad of children’s books by celebrities

Letters

Celebrity titles can be a useful gateway into reading, but publishers should bear in mind their responsibility for maintaining a wide and diverse authorial base, writes Andrea Marks

Little girl pretending to read a book
‘I share the concern that by siphoning off advances and marketing budgets, celebrity authors are squeezing out many children’s authors.’ Photograph: Alamy
‘I share the concern that by siphoning off advances and marketing budgets, celebrity authors are squeezing out many children’s authors.’ Photograph: Alamy

Last modified on Mon 14 Dec 2020 13.35 EST

Having spent many years developing initiatives to encourage children to read, I share the concern that by siphoning off advances and marketing budgets, celebrity authors are squeezing out many children’s authors (Famous first words: how celebrities made their way on to children’s bookshelves, 12 December). At the same time, I agree with James Daunt that celebrity titles can be gateways into reading “particularly for boys who don’t read very well”.

When I ran Dillons’ young reader competition, which invited children to write about the books they read (a young Caitlin Moran was one of our first winners), entries from boys nearly always cited a book about a sport or hobby as their first introduction to reading for pleasure; if books by figures they admire can serve the same purpose, we should not discount them. What is needed is more financial continence from publishers, who should bear in mind their responsibility for maintaining a wide and diverse authorial base, so they are still writing when the celebrities have moved on.
Andrea Marks
Edgware, London