Publishers to put age guide on children’s book covers
Publishers are preparing to put reading age guidelines on the covers of all children’s books in an important breakthrough for children’s literacy.
Some of the main companies in the children’s book market have made the decision after two years of consultation with parents, young readers and literacy experts. The information will appear as a recommended age band.
The rest of the industry is expected to follow suit and the bands, which categorise books by reading age as Early (for five years plus), Developing (7 plus) Confident (9 plus) and Fluent, could become industry standards next year. The scheme would bring books into line with toys, DVDs and video games, which all carry age guidelines.
Ms Ross took up the cause of child literacy while working on Channel 4’s Lost for Words campaign in October. A Richard and Judy Children’s Book Clubspecial, part of the week-long series of programmes, divided its books into the four bands now proposed.
Ms Ross was at Downing Street yesterday with the authors Joanna Trollope, Kate Mosse, Tony Parsons and Sophie Kinsella to present a petition to the Prime Minister calling for action to combat child illiteracy. More than 500 writers signed the petition.
The idea of banding has suffered from what proved to be a false perception in the book trade that older children would be discouraged from reading a book that had a reading age on it, Ms Ross said.
Amanda Craig, the children’s books critic for The Times, said: “Anything that helps parents to choose books for their children is a good thing.”