For smaller children, rhyming can be an important tool – but kids won’t stand for any old doggerel. There is a reason why Each Peach Pear Plum is still a classic 43 years after it was first published,  the rhythm of the words interacting with the suspense of finding the characters in the rhyme is what entices children to read on. As they get older, kids like to be challenged emotionally as well as intellectually.

Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince and The Selfish Giant are just as devastating to adults as they are beautiful for children, with layers of meaning that allow a young reader to develop a different relationship with the book as they grow older and return to it.

There is a problem with some publishers hunting celebrity over content. Madonna’s children’s book The English Roses, was launched at the top of the The New York Times Best Seller list despite being panned by critics in 2003. Michael Rosen put it beautifully while reviewing the book for the BBC: “It may not have the ingenuity and charm of Laurent De Brunhoff’s Babar or the deep and wild imagination of Maurice Sendak but when you are Madonna, it probably does not matter.”

Then there are the favourites who seem to dominate the market, like David Walliams, who churn out a different (if entertaining) version of the same story almost every year. More so than adult literature, originality matters when it comes to children’s books, if only to cut through the swathes of sequels about cute puppies and loving grandparents.

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