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15 May 2008

Escaping: Part 2

Dr Mark Norman, Senior Curator of Molluscs at Museum Victoria, likes escaping too.

He says that non-fiction helps kids escape into the real world.

Which is a Good Thing to say, because lots of people say that non-fiction isn't really reading. Which is nonsense, but provides me with an exellent segue to provide you with a snippet from my talk from the Emerging Writers Festival last weekend:

David Fickling, UK childrens publisher extraordinaire, started out publishing Goosebumps. And although he has moved on to bigger and better things, he hasn’t forgotten his roots. Goosebumps, The Babysitter's Club, The Guiness Book of Records... David calls these books readermakers. They’re easy books, accessible books. They’re like the white bread equivalent of books – light, insubstantial, and without much dietary fibre.

But if you’re a young person, and you’re a bit scared of this whole Reading thing because you don’t really get it, and everyone keeps telling you how important it is, a Readermaker can be a great thing. Because you pick it up. It’s easy to get into. Pages turn. Before you know it, you’ve finished. You read a whole book. A whole entire book. And it was fun. So you read another one. This reading thing is easy! And because you’re breezing along, you’re a reading gun, you think about picking up something a bit longer. Something a bit harder. And your love of reading has begun. You've escaped.


Penni said...

I had a professor at Monash called Professor Love (yes, fortotallyreal, and he was utterly lovable) and he said something to me about how he'd read a study showing kids who grow up reading heaps of those sorts of books (like sweet dreams when I was a kid), often grow up faster readers with better comprehension than other readers. I always thought that was interesting.

james roy said...

When I was a kid i read and reread the Willard Price Adventure books - Gorilla Adventure and Underwater Adventure were my favourites. I looked back at one the other day and it wasn't very ... well, good. But at the time, as a young boy, I would have sworn blind that Willard Price was easily the best writer in the world, and that his books were the finest works in the Western Canon. I think that's the wonder of "crappy" books for kids - we can all see from our advancing years how poorly written some of them are, but to the young reader, they contain great truths and endless fun.

This is not to say that some of the crappy books can't be done better. I get immensely (and sometimes unhealthily) frustrated by some of the lazy doggerel for kids out there. Just because the kids don't seem to care how badly written some of it is doesn't mean that it shouldn't be done better.