Saturday, 26 March 2011

Reading Maketh Something I've Read

So, Michael Gove thinks children should read 50 books a year. Seems a lot to me, that’s one a week with a fortnight off at Christmas presumably, but what do I know? Reactions were as to be expected. Some people boasting that fifty was not nearly enough, one on-line commentator threatening violence if any of the fifty were Harry Potter or Twilight books, which seemed hard, and most agreeing that quality not quantity was the issue. I have to say, I’m not so sure.

Reading is many things. At its basis, it’s a way of sharing information with others. It’s a form of pleasure for some. For others it is a kind of moral duty and there are some for whom it is a way to parade their superiority to others. Each, save the last, seems valid. But it is the idea that there are books that should be read (and by serious and worrying implication, books that should not be read) that I find truly troublesome. I know I failed that test badly as a child by spending a year obsessively reading Enid Blyton (the Famous 5 and the Adventure stories to be precise) which confession casts me into the outer darkness as far as some are concerned. In the pre-video/i-player days I read novelisations of my favourite television series, Dr Who and Space: 1999 in particular. As a teenager, or Young Adult as they are now designated by the publishing industry, it was Alistair MacLean and science fiction. Then as an older Young Adult (if that makes sense) I discovered Penguin Modern Classics and dismayed my friends and family by always having one in my pocket, green spine to the fore so that it could be seen, identified and admired. And of all of them, I cannot think of a single book that I have ever regretted reading and that, surely is the important thing. The act of reading is neutral and to attempt to indoctrinate children into thinking otherwise is as dubious as not allowing them to read at all.

Anyway, must dash, got a DVD I want to watch.

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