Saturday, 12 February 2011

World Book Night is causing some

arguments. If you want to know more about it then please go and read Vanessa Robertson's
http://www.stateofindependents.co.uk/ here and the piece in the Guardian
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/feb/10/world-book-night-branded-misguided-misjudged?commentpage=last#end-of-comments here.
You will find some comments by yours truly in the comments section of the Guardian piece but I am going to repeat them here.
When I set out on the International Literacy Year road I wanted to raise awareness of literacy issues. It is an enormous area and my personal interest was and has remained children's literacy.
It is probably far too simple-minded of me but I believe that if we teach children to read, teach them to want to read, to love reading then we may hook them on reading for life. That way we will have children who, to a large degree, will be able to educate themselves. They will not be confined to what they are given in school.
I know I was given very little of my education in school. From my very first day in school I was told not to expect to be taught too much. I was given that pile of books, put in a corner out of harm's way, and told, "Here dear, read." I read. I was lucky. I could read.
Some children arrive at school having some reading skills, others have none. Few children can already read in the sense that they are independent readers. Teaching them to read is the most important thing teachers in the early school years do. Almost everything else that happens in school is influenced by the ability to read.
This is one reason why I find World Book Night so strange. It appears to have nothing to do with children, those coming up the Reading Ladder. Why would you want to hand out novels to adults who are not hooked on reading? Looking at the list I hardly think the novels which have been chosen will encourage non-reading adults to read. They are certainly not books which are likely to hook them on reading. A well written, fast paced crime novel might - if given to a "non-reader" prior to their departure on holiday.
Now if the £9m apparently being used to support World Book Night had been given over to putting books into schools and the children's sections of libraries it might have hooked some young readers. If it had been done with the exhortation, "Buy a child you know a book" then it might have done even more. Adults, even non-reading adults, are largely aware of the importance of being able to read. They want their children to read, even if it is only so they can be sure they are getting whatever benefits the government is reluctantly handing out.
Turning children into readers has educational, social, psychological and economic benefits. That £9m could have been better spent - and it might have had positive consequences for writers, publishers and booksellers if it had been better spent.

1 comment:

Sheep Rustler said...

I've just gone back to work after 18 years raising children and I;m feeling brain dead and exhausted. Completely missed this. But working as a librarian so fully supportive of people reading things! Will cvontinue to read and comment as brain is working. Love Judy