It's World Book Day once again http://bit.ly/1cEuDyZ - comes around quite quickly doesn’t it - too quickly if you are a parent of a primary school child expected to dress imaginatively yet appropriately for the health and safety requirements of the playground. I particularly admire the efforts of the World Book Day people in encouraging reading for young adults in these dying days of the book.
The list of 50 books you must read http://bit.ly/1gce9iH offers a few surprises amongst the ubiquitous Blackman, Morpurgo and Rowling. I think any teenager amused by the nonsense of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" who then picks up "The Time Travellers' Wife" might get a bit of a surprise but then I am sure we all have happy memories of devouring books our parents/teachers would have deemed unsuitable. I guess that was our version of cruising the internet without the constraints of the parental control lock.
It's always useful to get some recommendations about what might be a good read when you are faced with a wall of book spines in the library/bookshop or to provoke debate about current kids’ book choices.
News about the lack of challenging reading attempted by children abound. The author of the "What are Kids Reading?" report http://bit.ly/1duYDkD, Professor Keith Topping, is critical about the role played by teachers and librarians. He suggests that they "are not encouraging students to attack more difficult books to a sufficient degree.” That’s a bit harsh and isn’t backed up by my experience of the reading evangelists I’ve met in school libraries and classroom.
Another factor influencing reading choice for teenagers is the pressure on children to read a specified number of books per term (passing Accelerated Reader tests along the way as evidence http://bit.ly/1nhhfaH). A logical choice would favour shorter/easier rather than challenging/more complex as the way to ensure reward. Maybe it's indicative of our levels-obsessed education system that children aren't curling up on the sofa developing an enduring reading habit. That and the Playstation, X-Box, Facebook, etc etc
Anyway - to headline reading for a day is a good thing and so “Happy World Book Day” to you. Reading anything interesting?