Thursday, October 17, 2013

Neil Gaiman speaks his mind: Let children read the books they love

Arguably one of today's most popular and critically acclaimed authors, Neil Gaiman delivered a passionate defence this week of letting children read the books they enjoy. It's well worth your time to check out the full text of his speech, but in the meantime, here are some quotes that really spoke to me:

"The simplest way to make sure that we raise literate children is to teach them to read, and to show them that reading is a pleasurable activity. And that means, at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them. 
I don't think there is such a thing as a bad book for children. Every now and again it becomes fashionable among some adults to point at a subset of children's books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading.
It's tosh. It's snobbery and it's foolishness. There are no bad authors for children, that children like and want to read and seek out, because every child is different. They can find the stories they need to, and they bring themselves to stories. A hackneyed, worn-out idea isn't hackneyed and worn out to them. This is the first time the child has encountered it. Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing. Fiction you do not like is a route to other books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste as you."


Thinking back on your childhood, were there books you loved that grownups disapproved of? Or books you didn't like that grownups attempted to foist on you? I feel fortunate in that my parents paid little attention to what I read, but a great deal of attention to insuring that I had the opportunity to read widely, from weekly trips to the public library to heaps of books all over the house.

If anyone looks down on your kids' reading choices (or your own!), just tell them you've got Neil Gaiman on your side!

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