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Jacqueline Wilson says censorship of children’s books is ‘a huge worry’

Jul 05, 2023Jul 05, 2023

Jacqueline Wilson has discussed the increasing censorship of children’s books, calling the situation “a huge worry”.

The author of books from The Story of Tracy Beaker to Girls in Love talked about censorship in an interview while promoting her new novel The Best Sleepover in the World.

Book censorship is on the rise in the US – a report from the writers’ organisation Pen America said book bans in American public schools increased by 28 per cent in the first half of the 2022-23 academic year, many of which were about race, had characters of colour, or had LGBTQ+ themes.

In the UK, meanwhile, research by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals this year found that a third of librarians had been asked by members of the public to censor or remove books.

“This is a huge worry,” Wilson, 77, told The Guardian. “We are not America, but we do follow American trends and this is becoming scary.”

She added: “One of the worst things is there’s no reasoned debate. It’s black or it’s white.”

Speaking about how censorship and intolerance can fuel culture wars, she said: “People are getting cancelled in cruel and horrible ways. I don’t like the idea of anybody being cancelled because we live in a country where we’ve always taken pride in free speech.”

Wilson said she does not have an issue with books being edited to remove problematic and dated language. New versions of Roald Dahl’s stories made headlines earlier this year after references to “old hags” and “fat” characters were removed.

Last year, Wilson herself wrote a story inspired by English author Enid Blyton’s The Magic Faraway Tree, in which she moved away from the writer’s sexist stereotypes.

In the interview, Wilson also admitted that she looks back differently on one of her books. In 2005, she wrote a novel called Love Lessons, about a 14-year-old falling in love with an art teacher. The pair kiss in the book and the teacher admits he loves the child back.

On whether she would write the book today, Wilson said: “No. It’s so different now.”

The Best Sleepover in the World will be published by Puffin on 17 August.