I saw a Facebook thread this week in which an adult asked for suggestions for books to buy for Christmas presents for children aged 14 and 10. The recommendations were like a reading list from 1975 – The Silver Sword, A Wrinkle in Time, Alan Garner, Philippa Pearce. Wonderful books by talented authors, but it was very clear that most of those responding had not read a book for older children since they left their teens themselves.
So why is it that otherwise cultured and well read people do not read contemporary children’s literature in the UK? Why is it acceptable to be ignorant about children’s literature?
As mentioned in the article itself and in the comments section, it’s okay to not know much about children’s literature. But what’s untenable is the fact that people who know nothing about modern children’s literature seem to think it’s okay to publish lists of top children’s literature, which is kind of like me putting out a list of top rugby players.
If you see a ‘Best Of’ list of children’s literature this Christmas, or next, you can tell if it’s done by someone who knows what they’re talking about because the list will include at least a few books which have been published in the last couple of years.
I will add to that, if you see a list of best book apps, and the list only includes apps from the top ten on iTunes, you can guarantee the author of that list has looked no further than the front page of iTunes.
Here are the best-selling paperback children’s books of all time (through the end of 2000), with author and year of initial publication, compiled by Publishers Weekly. (I’m sad to see that OP means ‘out of print’ — how does it happen that a best-selling children’s book ever goes out of print?)