They had no snobbery about anything I read. They just seemed to like that there was this wide-eyed little boy who loved to read, and would talk to me about the books I was reading, they would find me other books in a series, they would help. They treated me as another reader nothing less or more which meant they treated me with respect. I was not used to being treated with respect as an eight-year-old. But libraries are about freedom. Freedom to read, freedom of ideas, freedom of communication. They are about education (which is not a process that finishes the day we leave school or university about entertainment, about making safe spaces, and about access to information.
My, favourite, writer (William Shakespeare)
As jrr tolkien reminded us, the only people who inveigh against escape are jailers. Tolkiens illustration of Bilbos home, bag End. Another way to destroy a childs love of reading, of course, is to make sure there are no books of any kind around. And to give them nowhere to read those books. I had an excellent local library growing. I had the kind of parents who could be persuaded to drop essay me off in the library on their way to work in summer holidays, and the kind of librarians who did not mind a small, unaccompanied boy heading back into the childrens library every. And when I had finished reading the childrens library i began ageing on the adult books. They were good librarians. They liked books and they liked the books being read. They taught me how to order books from other libraries on inter-library loans.
Once youve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different. And while were on the subject, Id plan like to say a few words about escapism. I hear the term bandied about as if its a bad thing. As if escapist fiction is a cheap opiate used by the muddled and the foolish and the deluded, and the only fiction that is worthy, for adults or for children, is mimetic fiction, mirroring the worst of the world the reader finds herself. If you were trapped in an impossible situation, in an unpleasant place, with people who meant you ill, and someone offered you a temporary escape, why wouldnt you take it? And escapist fiction is just that: fiction that opens a door, shows the sunlight outside, gives you a place to go where you are in control, are with people you want to be with(and books are real places, make no mistake about that and more. Skills and knowledge and tools you can use to escape for real.
Its simple, he told. The Chinese were brilliant at making things if other people brought them the plans. But they did not innovate and they did not invent. They did not imagine. So they sent a delegation to the us, to Apple, to microsoft, to google, and they asked the people there who were inventing the future about themselves. And they found that all of them had read science fiction when they were boys or girls. Fiction can show you a different summary world. It can take you somewhere youve never been.
Empathy is a tool for building people into groups, for allowing us to function as more than self-obsessed individuals. Youre also finding out something as you read vitally important for making your way in the world. And its this: The world doesnt have to be like this. Things can be different. I was in China in 2007, at the first party-approved science fiction and fantasy convention in Chinese history. And at one point I took a top official aside and asked him Why? Sf had been disapproved of for a long time.
My favourite historical places: joanna Innes history
Fiction you essay do not like is a route to other books you may prefer. And not everyone has the same taste as you. Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a childs love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian improving literature. Youll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant. We need our children to get onto the reading ladder: anything that they enjoy reading will move them up, rung by rung, into literacy. (Also, do not do what this author did when his 11-year-old daughter was into rl stine, which is to go and get a copy of Stephen Kings Carrie, saying if you liked those youll love this! Holly read nothing but safe stories of settlers on prairies for the rest of her teenage years, and still glares at me when Stephen Kings name is mentioned.).
And the second thing fiction does is to build empathy. When you watch tv or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. Youre being someone else, and when you return to your own world, youre going to be slightly changed.
Ive seen it happen over and over; Enid Blyton was declared a bad author, so was rl stine, so were dozens of others. Comics have been decried as fostering illiteracy. No such thing as a bad writer. Enid Blytons Famous five. Photograph: Greg Balfour evans/Alamy.
Its snobbery and its 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 isnt hackneyed and worn out to them. This is the first time the child has encountered. Do not discourage children from reading because you feel they are reading the wrong thing.
Business, plan, owner Operator Trucking: Business plan owner operator
And reading is key. There were noises made briefly, a few years ago, about the idea that we were living in a post-literate world, in which the ability to make sense out of written words was somehow redundant, but those days are gone: words are more important than they. People who cannot understand each other cannot exchange ideas, cannot communicate, and translation programs only go so far. 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, london at its simplest, finding books that they enjoy, giving them access to those books, and letting them read them. I dont 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 childrens books, a genre, perhaps, or an author, and to declare them bad books, books that children should be stopped from reading.
And I think some of those correlations, the simplest, come from something very simple. Literate people read fiction. Fiction has two uses. Firstly, its a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if its hard, because someones in trouble and you have to know how its all going to end thats a very real drive. And it forces you to learn new words, to think new thoughts, to keep going. To discover that reading per se angel is pleasurable. Once you learn that, youre on the road to reading everything.
about the building of private prisons a huge growth industry in America. The prison industry needs to plan its future growth how many cells are they going to need? How many prisoners are there going to be, 15 years from now? And they found they could predict it very easily, using a pretty simple algorithm, based on asking what percentage of 10 and 11-year-olds couldnt read. And certainly couldnt read for pleasure. Its not one to one: you cant say that a literate society has no criminality. But there are very real correlations.
It is obviously in my interest for people to read, for them to read fiction, for libraries and librarians to exist and help foster a love of reading and places in which reading can occur. So im biased as a writer. But i am much, much more biased as a reader. And i am even more biased as a british citizen. And Im here giving this talk tonight, under the auspices of the reading Agency: a charity whose mission is to give everyone an equal chance in life by helping people become confident and enthusiastic readers. Which supports literacy programs, and libraries and individuals and nakedly and wantonly encourages the act of reading. Because, they tell us, everything changes when we read.
The Tragedy of the commons by garrett Hardin - the garrett
Its important for people to tell you what side they are on and why, and whether they might be biased. A declaration of members interests, of a sort. So, i am going to be talking to you about reading. Im going to tell you that libraries are important. Im going to suggest that reading fiction, that reading for pleasure, is one of the most important things one can. Im going to make an impassioned plea for people to understand what libraries and librarians are, and to preserve both of these things. And gps i am biased, obviously and enormously: Im an author, often an author of fiction. I write for children and for adults. For about 30 years I have been earning my living through my words, mostly by making things up and writing them down.