Authors urged to show more disabled characters for World Book Day

Authors have been urged to include more characters with disabilities in their stories. Marking World Book Day this week, the Oscar winner Rachel Shenton and Julia Donaldson, author of The Gruffalo, called for more diversity in children’s books.

Shenton, Oscar winner in 2018 for her film about the experiences of a deaf child, said: “When I wrote The Silent Child, I created a film about an issue I’m incredibly passionate about, and have experience of in my own life.

“I’ve learnt just how important it is for children to see themselves in the programmes and movies they watch and in the books they read. Never seeing themselves can make their experiences seem invisible.”

Donaldson added: “I’ve seen first-hand how powerful it is for a child to have their lives and their experiences reflected in what they read – to be able to say there’s someone like me!”

The authors Lauren Child, Jeff Kinney and Cressida Cowell, plus the Duchess of Cornwall, the singer Gary Barlow and Anton du Beke of Strictly Come Dancing are also among those publicising World Book Day, when children go to school dressed up as their favourite book character.

Krirsten Grant, the director of World Book Day, said: “A love of reading can transform a child’s future, helping them to do well at school, get a good job and live a happy and successful life.

“We are calling on parents and carers everywhere to put reading together at the heart of their World Book Day activities. Whether your children are dressed up today or not, sit down with them for 10 minutes on World Book Day, and every day, and share a story.”

“Our ambition is to restore reading for pleasure as a ­celebrated national pastime for all.”