Katherine Rundell on children’s books and imagination

Children’s fiction… offers to help us to refind things we may not even know we have lost. Adult life is full of forgetting… When you read children’s books, you are given the space to read again as a child: to find your way back, back to the time when new discoveries came daily and when the world was colossal, before…

“Led by pleasure and wonder”: Dana Gioia on creating a new generation of readers

You can’t force young people into literature. They need to be led by pleasure and wonder. Creating a new generation of readers is important. When a society loses the capacity to read fiction, it loses one of the most powerful ways by which we grow and refine our inner lives, our understanding of ourselves, and our understanding of other people.…

Katherine Rundell on learning from children’s books

Children’s books today do still have a ghost of their educative beginnings, but what they are trying to teach us has changed. Children’s novels, to me, spoke, and still speak, of hope. They say: look, this is what bravery looks like. This is what generosity looks like. They tell me, through the medium of wizards and lions and talking spiders,…

Katherine Rundell on the subversive politics of children’s books

A lot of children’s fiction has a surprising politics to it. Despite all our tendencies in Britain toward order and discipline – towards etiquette manuals and school uniforms that make the wearers look like tiny mayoral candidates – our children’s literature is often slyly subversive. … The same is true across much of the world; it was Ursula Le Guin,…

Castles on Clouds

I’m a couple of chapters away from finishing Les Miserables,* thanks to the enthusiasm of a friend** and to Nick Senger’s excellent chapter-a-day read-along schedule.*** It’s a fantastic read – hard going at times, but deserving of its reputation. Beside the story itself (forgiving its long string of ridiculous coincidences), I most enjoy the little**** insights into life in another…

Resource recommendation: online card-sorting game maker from Flippity

Flippity.net has a load of clever templates that turn Googlesheets into various educational things. We’ve just used the “Manipulatives” template to make this card-sorting game to help teachers learn about the different levels of our Indonesian literacy curriculum during online training. It’s easy to use, keeps things simple, and just works. Recommended. P.S. Thanks Flippity!

What’s reading worth? OECD data on the economic returns to literacy

This OECD data records an average 7.5% increase in a person’s wages (8.8% for non-native speakers) for every one standard deviation increase in literacy proficiency, averaged across 24 OECD countries. That’s equivalent to slightly more than two-and-a-half years’ additional salary over a 35 year working life.* According to this data the UK’s return to a one standard deviation in literacy…

More on old books: Mortimer Adler on permanent literature

The faster things change, the more important our reference points if we want to avoid motion sickness. The great books are always contemporary. In contrast, the books we call “contemporary,” because they are currently popular, last only for a year or two, or ten at the most. They soon become antiquated. You probably cannot recall the names of the bestsellers…

C.S. Lewis on reading old books

Here’s more from C.S. Lewis on reading old books – this time highlighting their virtues as lenses for helping us to spot and evaluate the biases of our age: It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much…

C.S. Lewis on reading the originals

I love this thought from Lewis, and I’ve found it to be both true and hugely rewarding whenever I’ve acted upon it. There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books. Thus I have found as a tutor…