Following on from my blog post yesterday about Michael Gove’s suggestion that all kids should read 50 books a year, there have been lots of responses in the papers.
Rowan Pelling in the Telegraph says that kids will read if their parents are readers, and I think that’s a good point. That friend of mine who’s dyslexic and hated reading as a child? Her parents didn’t read books. I remember going to visit her house for the first time and feeling that something, oddly was missing. It wasn’t until I got home that I realised what it was – books. No bookshelves, no books. They simply didn’t read for pleasure. So she wasn’t surrounded by adults reading, unlike me. My parents would sit reading in the evenings at home, in preference to switching on the TV (though, to be fair, when I was young, we only had four channels to watch, so there wasn’t the range of choice there is now).
In The Guardian, children’s authors Anthony Browne and Philip Pullman, among others, think it’s quality, not quantity that counts. I mean, anyone can skim-read a book and say, ‘Finished!’ but what’s the point if you haven’t really understood what it’s about or enjoyed the unfolding of the plot? I also like the way Pullman says:
When it comes to reading books, children should be allowed – and encouraged – to read as much rubbish as they want to. But that can only happen when there are plenty of good books as well as rubbish all around them.
I’m completely with that! I read a lot of rubbish as a child – I certainly didn’t fill my days reading Jane Austen or Charles Dickens or the ‘classics’. I read those at school, of course, but at home I read all sorts of stuff (and at 15 I even went through a Mills and Boon phase. If you don’t know what sort of books they are, you’re probably not old enough to read them, LOL).
And finally, in the Independent, Michael Morpugo and others (including Philip Pullman – what a busy day he had yesterday!) select their ten top children’s books. Everything from Treasure Island to Noughts and Crosses, and no book appears on any two lists, as far as I can see. Which just shows how individual taste differs from person to person, and rightly so! (I loved The Star of Kazan, by Eva Ibbotson, which does appear on MM’s list.)
It got me thinking. If you had to recommend 10 books for kids to read (say, aged between 8 and 15) which ones would YOU pick? I’ll have a think about mine and get back to you tomorrow.
Love from Jo
PS Fellow author Bali Rai has also blogged about his feelings on this whole issue. You can read it here.