Pullman says…

Reading time: 2 mins

Kids not reading: “We write books to delight…when we see how kids are supposed to analyse sections of our books even replacing adjectives with ones of their own it feels very mechanical. I can see the national curriculum and the national literacy strategy has done some good, especially in tightening up certain loose ends, but it has mechanised creativity. I think it is best to let the child take their time when writing.”

When I was growing up trips to the library with my Dad were a treat as I was allowed to pick what I wanted. Dumbarton Library was a wonderful place, with the kids section downstairs in the upper basement, and the ‘grown-up’ books on the main floor.

Sure I started with Asterix, Tin-tin, Cool Hand Luke but soon I started wandering round the shelves in the kids section picking up on Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators), and then onto Sci-Fi authors like Nicholas Fisk.

I soon ‘graduated’ to upstairs discovering Arthur C Clarke, Stephen King (ohh how very 80s of me), and Alistair MacLean, and then in secondary school onto ‘modern classics’, Catcher in the Rye, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Wasp Factory, 1984, Lord of the Flies, all read before I had to study them at school.

There always were (and still are) legions of books at my parents house, and because I got to choose the books, I always enjoyed reading them. So as a lifelong reader, thanks to my parents, I always had the view that books are to be enjoyed.

Consider the other side of this story though. The child brought up without books, who doesn’t read for fun, doesn’t learn structure, doesn’t begin to appreciate nuances in usage and views books as ‘not for him/her’.

They wouldn’t pick up a Pullman, Rowling, Blyton or any other book, so maybe this structured mechanical teaching approach does have it’s uses. Sure it won’t make the child enjoy reading but as they don’t come from that kind of background it will probably take them until adulthood to appreciate books (if ever).

But then, whit dae a ken?

So, what was your favourite childhood book?

* Corrected: As Jez pointed out the Hardy Boys were not the same as the Hitchcock books. For some reason I always thought that they were…