Friday, February 10, 2006

A Very Good Point

In a TimesOnline article entitled Why I'm one of the great unread Carol Sarler responds to the Brit writers who were so keen on kids reading classics. And really dull ones at that. Though Sarler claims to have been at the top of the class in English during her school days, she also claims she doesn't read now. This is due, she feels, to the reading she did as a student.

"...we read the books, we were tested on them and we passed or failed accordingly. Reading books was, therefore, the stuff of school in exactly the same way as was trigonometry or chucking a javelin — and since leaving my esteemed seat of learning, I am as likely to curl up with Jane Austen for the fun of it as I am to flirt with a cosine or risk the wrong end of a spear."

I'm not sure if she's suggesting that she (a mother of a grown daughter now) rejected reading as teenage rebellion and never got over it, and, if so, if she rejected everything she else studied in school, too. Or, if so, how that's working for her.

Later in her commentary, however, she makes a very interesting point:

"...her [Saler's daughter] coming late to the books she loves highlights that which Mr Motion [who is famous round the world for suggesting school children read Paradise Lost and The Wasteland] failed to recognise: that the eminent works he so sternly recommended were written by adults, for adults — further, that to press them upon children in an environment in which they are used for the testing, marking and assessment of those children might, in the end, do a lifetime’s disservice."

I'm not touching the part about testing. But her comment that many books we consider classics were written for adults is an excellent point. Now we could argue forever about what is an adult and when is one mature enough to really, really enjoy Paradise Lost. But, how much can we expect kids to connect with books that were never meant for them in the first place? And, since I believe all reading is about the reader connecting with the writer...Well, you can see why I think book selection for English classes is delicate work.

I just love the way British papers show so much interest in children's literature. Either I'm reading the wrong American publications or this kind of thing just doesn't happen here.

Thanks to for the link.

Speaking Of Classics I Haven't Read

I'm not reading Bleak House by Charles Dickens. My exposure to that worthy gentleman's work has been somewhat limited.

No, I am watching Bleak House on PBS. And liking it rather a lot.

I'm afraid this is a case of someone using technology to get her dose of literature in a different format. (As we were discussing yesterday. Though I think the writer who suggested different formats for books didn't have Dickens in mind.)

Happenings In Kidblogosphere

Here in the Bonny Glen is having a carnival this coming Monday! A blog carnival of Children's Literature. Tomorrow is the deadline for submitting a post in order to be part of the carnival. (A sideshow?)

I know exactly what I'm going to submit. I'm a writer. That's what I do. I submit things. Everywhere. All the time.

Thanks to Chicken Spaghetti for the link.

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