The welcoming surroundings of the Grafton’s upper room were the perfect setting for the second SLG Café Littéraire. Authors, Librarians and Publishers shared enthusiasms and information over tea, coffee and some excellent cake.
The event was attended by 16 authors and a handful of publishers from Pea Green Boat Books and Usborne: Michele Simonsen – Sarah Sky – Keren David – Hilary Freeman – Chitra Soundar – Larisa Villar Hauser – Annette Smith – Faye Bird – Margaret Bateson-Hill – Peter Bunzl – Sally Kindberg – Bridget Marzo – Bybreen Samuels – Jo Franklin
From picture novel illustrators to YA writers, from well-established and loved names to first-time novelists, conversations quickly turned to the challenges of Children’s and YA literature that we are all facing.
Amongst all these discussions, some topics stood out for relevance and scope of interest across all reading ages: for example, illustration and visual literacy – how important it is to avoid the misconception that comics are a genre and not a separate medium of telling stories; a complex reading process is necessary to decipher them, such as inferring meaning, and linking text and picture. We spoke of the kind of stories we loved as children, and whether the same stories and styles of telling are still popular. Can books help our children to face the challenges of ubiquitous social media, or relieve the pressures that our very sexualised society can create? If writers want to engage with young people, is swearing necessary? One author found that putting ‘blast’ in a book for teenagers to avoid censure from their parents, just made her look out-of-touch and irrelevant.
Here are some interesting articles on these subjects:
Why teens in books can’t swear by James/Juno Dawson:
“Clean Reads” List – interesting booklist for the guidance given regarding “inappropriate” content. Food for thought.
It was enormous fun – with serious intent – we were there to share and learn, and everyone had experience, insight or information to contribute.
In fact, our pleasant afternoon at the Grafton was almost exactly like the definition of ‘un Café Littéraire’ found in Wikipedia: a place to meet in order to talk about literature, exchange ideas, listen to book excerpts and take part in intellectual plays, all whilst enjoying coffee or another drink.* Although we did not include readings, I think that would be an excellent addition to the event, and if anyone is up for acting in an intellectual play – please let us know!
*Not that I use Wikipedia as a matter of course, but in some cases it is really rather good!
* [Un café littéraire est un lieu de réunion où l’on parle de littérature, échange des idées, écoute des extraits de livres lus par des comédiens, assiste à des spectacles érudits tout en dégustant un café, ou autre boisson.]
[Librarian – The Grey Coat Hospital School ; Hon. Secretary CILIP SLG London & SE]
Café Littéraire – Saturday 23rd January 2016 – The Grafton Arms NW5