Yesterday The Independent published a quite noteworthy article by Philip Hensher, Fifty books a year is ideal, but why stop at schoolchildren? The author shares his reflection on the value of reading books. He points out that reading books in a public place is a part of European culture but in many other cultures, reading in that place would be perceived as very rude (in Taiwan, for example). In his opinion ‘reading is as central to the existence of many English people as eating.’
Philip Hensher also mentions the Education Secretary Michael Gove’s ambition to persuade schoolchildren to read 50 books a year, as currently many of them read 2 books for GCSE. The journalist backs Gove’s idea, but he thinks that the Government should also introduce mandatory reading of 20 books a year for adults, similar to eating 5 fruit and vegetables a day.
Reading 50 books a year seems to be a huge challenge, especially for 11-year-old children but personally I’ve never had a problem with reading obligatory school books. Actually, my love of reading started when I was 11 years old – that summer I read 30 books. Since then I’ve read thousands of books, some of them even three times. I’ll never forget books like The Six Bullerby Children by Astrid Lindgren, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, Winnetou by Karl May, Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe or The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and many, many others.
Someone would ask, why mention all these titles or what to read, if we have internet, digital television, and other new technological innovations. Well, maybe it’s necessary. Nowadays, teachers try to teach students how they could extend their imagination and give them tasks such as writing clever similes or metaphors found in Thesaurus in a table. Kids that will watch too much TV will always have this problem – to use their own imagination. The question is how they could do that if their imagination is limited to flat pictures from TV or their computer games? Maybe 50 books for schoolchildren and 20 for adults is a bit of an exaggerated number, but at least 10 would be enough: for children – to develop their own imagination, and for adults – to drag them away from weekly parties.