But Mummy read that!

What will today’s young readers want to force their – as yet unborn – children to read? Or if they are really understanding parents (rather like me!) simply sigh over and decide that maybe XXX is a bit old-fashioned and since there are so many lovely new books, they will just let Little Darling read those instead.

With it being Roald Dahl day later this week, I was thinking about an article I read, which said that it’s mainly the parents who favour Dahl’s books now. Because they were the books they themselves read as children. (With me it was the other way round. I read Dahl to keep abreast of what Son and his peers liked.)

So what didn’t I force Offspring to read? Primarily the ‘real’ classics. The books that were pretty ancient even in my time, like The Three Musketeers and Ivanhoe, or Journey to the Centre of the Earth. I could almost forgive them for having no interest at all in those books.

But more ‘contemporary’ books like Pippi Longstocking were required reading. Or so I thought. Reading which we got round by watching the films and the television series. And then I discovered that Pippi was a bit of a bully, and nowhere near as funny as I remembered her to be.

Perhaps that’s how Roald Dahl’s books appear to children now? I can recall how appalled I was, seeing George’s Marvellous Medicine on stage. It really brought home the awfulness of those books. To this day I can’t bear Willy Wonka.

It won’t be long until a whole Harry Potter generation start to forcefeed their children wizards and witches and wands. Those readers are already beginning to pop up as authors (it’s probably quicker to write a book than to give birth to a new reader), having been inspired by Harry and Co.

If you don’t read Dahl now, you are very likely enjoying Jeff Kinney’s Wimpy Kid or Andy Stanton’s Mr Gum. How long until they are the parents’ choice? Thirty years, maybe.

I get the impression that Enid Blyton still works, even without any arm twisting. I expected Daughter to like the Nancy Drew books and bought two with lovely period covers, and they are still sitting on a shelf in pristine condition.

The thing is, Mother-of-witch never suggested books to me. I read all of hers. There weren’t many, and I didn’t own a lot myself, so anything that was available got attention. Hers were mainly what girls had in the 1930s, so neither terribly classic or incredibly modern. They were just books.

Jules Verne, Till jordens medelpunkt

Perhaps if my childhood books had been in a language they could read, Offspring would have foraged and found something to enjoy.

Yeah, that’s probably it. Wrong language. Not wrong books.

7 responses to “But Mummy read that!

  1. It’s all a rather mysterious process, what we read, isn’t it? I can think of happy examples of things that were foisted upon me, and also of things that were just lying around. And some things that I never touched until later, when I wished I had. I think it’s probably more the idea that reading is a normal and pleasurable thing that’s important, which really you can only show support of by reading yourself.

  2. I had Anne of Green Gables rammed down my throat. I’m ‘pleased’ to say I vomited it straight out again, and had to wait fifteen years before discovering how wonderful Anne was.

  3. Can’t bear Pippi Longstocking! I made available to them – Moomins, Paddington, Pooh, Little White Horse, Wolves of Willoughby Chase, Silver Sword, Tolkien … but none of the really old classics. I thought they would put them off reading. Of course, I wouldn’t stop them trying them, but didn’t have them on the shelves ready, just like I didn’t have custard creams ready.

    Small Bint has just chosen the first book for her not-yet-born baby: it was Oliver Jeffers, Lost and Found. She hates Harry Potter, so it will be interesting to see which books she makes avialable to her child.

  4. Maybe we can follow your grandchild’s reading as and when it happens?
    Mind you, I don’t expect even your grandchild to read in the first week or so.

  5. That’s funny. Someone in my family gave us a set of Anne of Green Gables for Christmas one year, which we all promptly ignored. It was much more than fifteen years that I started reading the books, and it was just some cheap paperbacks that I came across.

  6. We needed to mature.

  7. Pingback: The Christmas book ad | Bookwitch

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