Susie Day has clearly forgotten that’s what people do:
Books for eight to 12s are often about growing up, self-discovery, overcoming a challenge. In classic children’s fiction, physical disability tends to be co-opted not only as a cautionary tale, but a completely useless one where it turns out you’ll be ok in the end – so long as you’re nice, or you try hard. The Secret Garden’s invalid Colin apparently only needs a bit of fresh air and gardening to magically regain his health. In What Katy Did, Katy’s spinal injury is a lesson in patience and goodness; once she’s learned it, she walks again.
Ah, here we go again. Every children’s book should have a cast big enough to reflect all races, creeds and body forms.
. The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign continues to go from strength to strength, and sites like Disability in Kidlit , and Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo’s Diversity in YA are fantastic resources for authors and readers alike – but these campaigning sites exist for good reason.
Mostly, they seem to exist to give people who like books merely for the propagandising avenue they offer, not for their intrinsic reading pleasure, yet another thing to squawk about.
There are happy exceptions: Julia Golding’s Young Knights adventure fantasy series features a wheelchair user; Jacqueline Wilson’s wonderful Katy is a retelling of What Katy Did, with a more honest conclusion (you can read a review of Katy by teen site member Writer on Wheels here) But the idea that young people with disabilities (congenital or acquired, physical and/or mental, mild to severe, single or overlapping) might be entitled to find themselves in fiction – not to teach able children to be better people, not to be cured, not to be “issues” but to cast spells and time-travel and worry if they’re wearing uncool trainers – sadly still seems a challenge for our industry. Adults can be cruel, too.
And we need to do better.
They’ll sell if they are enjoyable to read. And if they aren’t, they won’t.
And there’s not a thing the identity groups and the SJWs can do about that. Thank heavens.