History is important. Books for Keeps has been part of my history, appearing as it did in 1980 to join Margery Fisher’s Growing Point and The Junior Bookshelf in informing and guiding me as I worked to ensure the library shelves did stock as wide a range as possible of material. Its appeal was its liveliness, the pictures, the articles which introduced subjects ranging from a consideration of reading schemes to what makes a classic, from looking at autism in children’s books to drugs, the interviews and the reviews. It introduced me to authors and illustrators, and it reminded me of the greats from the past. It still does. One of its great strengths has always been that it was always designed to reach parents as well as practitioners. This is even more important in the present climate where there are fewer specialists in the world of children’s librarianship – though knowledge, book knowledge, is as vital as ever. Yes, there are other sources, but few are as wide ranging as Books for Keeps – or as interesting and accessible.
However, history is one thing; looking forward is another. Books for Keeps was one of the first review magazines to include Audio Books – invaluable and overlooked. Now we have e-books. The world of publishing is changing dramatically. It may be true that the role of ‘the book’ as the medium for mass distribution will change, but reading will not, nor will the desire to create stories. People – parents, teachers, librarians – will continue to need intelligent comment across the whole range of material. The issues surrounding reading, the importance of story, whether fiction or as information, content, illustration, audiences, remain and need to be aired in an informative, lively and attractive way. These are the challenges that face Books for Keeps as we look forward to the next 200 issues. I am excited – and nervous – at the prospect of being associated with it in this journey. There is a history to live up to – Richard Hill, Pat Triggs, Chris Powling and Rosemary Stones – and a future to be grasped. There will be changes – for the good – but the core values will remain. I hope you will join us as Book for Keeps moves forward.