Entertainment & Arts

Helen Skelton: Children do not look for role models in books

Helen Skelton
Image caption Skelton published her first children's book this month

Former Blue Peter presenter Helen Skelton has said children do not seek feminist role models in their books.

"I think the whole feminist role model thing is something adults are obsessed with, and children aren't," she said at the Hay literary festival, according to the Daily Telegraph.

"Children just like to read about people doing cool things in cool places."

Skelton has just published her first book, Amy Wild: Amazon Summer.

The story was inspired by her trip down the River Amazon in 2010, when she kayaked 2,010 miles for Sport Relief.

She set a world record for the longest solo journey by kayak, although that has since been superseded.

She admitted that Amy Wild, the girl who stars in her book, was based on her.

Strong character

"She is ballsy and bolshy and out there, because I think it's all right to be a girl and be brave and have strong opinions and go after stuff," she said.

"People ask me, is she a feminist role model? And I say no.

"This isn't a book for little girls, this is a book for families and anybody who has a little bit of a taste for adventure.

"I guess Amy is a strong female character, and the main character, but all of it centres around the relationship with her brother."

Children's laureate Malorie Blackman also spoke about the characters targeted at young readers during a panel discussion at Hay.

She said books for young girls too often featured princesses and characters dressed in pink, while boys were presented with "dinosaurs and robots".

She said: "Even that is sending a message. We need to be much more careful about the messages we're giving our very young children."

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