|Image via Pratham Books|
Especially for creators of work for younger readers, these are the people who put books into children's hands. Yet sometimes a less than friendly term is used for them collectively...
I speak of 'Gatekeepers.'
No, not the butterfly.
It's a loaded expression. It can suggest a group who control which print children get to see - for good or bad. An inspiration piece is not the place to get into a specific debate about censorship - but I would like to use the idea of The Gatekeeper as a starting point.
As sent up by Monty Python
There's the Guardian of the Word Hoard concept - a role of looking-after, selecting the best and ensuring its safety - some kind of benevolently bookish Smaug.
|Never underestimate the power of the librarian|
You can have the Defender of the Innocent too. This figure keeps filth and lies away from the young and defenceless. Anything from bacon-used-as-bookmarks to misprinted colours and hoaxes.
|Parents and carers want the best.|
Another I would suggest is The Leaner on the Top Bar. You know, the chatty type who waits for passers-by to talk to. Might have a piece of grass to chew. The perfect person for Word-of-Mouth recommendations.
|Teachers often know their pupils' tastes.|
All of these aspects can be used by writers and illustrators in their work. If you've ever felt that someone's world-view got in the way of your work reaching its audience, well that could be a motive. On the other, and more likely hand, how about those who've championed or inspired you? They can be character archetypes too.
|Some gatekeepers are essential|
Ideas for you to try
- Can any of your characters act as gatekeepers - literally or figuratively?
- Is there a guardian figure in your story who thwarts your main character?
- Could there be someone acting as a defender, perhaps misguidedly?
- Does your main character receive or pass on a recommendation at any point?
I would love to know if you have any extra ideas - or have ever used mine.
By K. M Lockwood