Get them reading for pleasure

3rd September 2004 at 01:00
I was very interested to read Michael Rosen's views (Another Voice, TES, July 23 ).

I wholeheartedly agree with him that what is of ultimate importance is not an analysis or interrogation of texts themselves (which is what is examined in current GCSEs), but the "encounter between the reader and the book", and the subsequent active reflection of what the text meant to them.

Michael Rosen refers to the Demos report Creative reading: young people, reading and public libraries.

This report quotes the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development research, which suggests that despite increasing levels of literacy, "large numbers do not read for pleasure"; 36 per cent of girls and 22 per cent of boys said they never read for enjoyment.

I believe that the time is now right for the development of a national "reading children's books for pleasure" GCSE-level accredited programme.

This could be delivered through the public and school library network, and thus retain some of the informality associated with libraries. It would give people the opportunity to get accreditation for reading for its own sake, rather than as an academic exercise. It would also give an enhanced role for libraries and librarians.

Assessment could be delivered through imaginative means such as online quizzes, book reviews and activities.

The website of this year's summer reading scheme, the Reading Rollercoaster ( shows how imaginatively this can be achieved.

A further development could be an accredited family learning programme, for parents and carers. In this adults and children could explore and discover the pleasure of reading books together.

It is a great shame that, with the exception of a few authors such as J K Rowling and Terry Pratchett, most children's books remain undiscovered by adults.

In my opinion this country publishes some of the highest-quality children's books in the world and it would be of great benefit to the nation if more children and adults could be inspired to read and enjoy them and get formal recognition for doing so.

Christopher Ashton

10 Westminster Drive



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