You have to admire Michael Gove and his passion for policy ideas. He seems to be unable to open his mouth without a new policy idea borrowed from somewhere else popping out.
Today it’s the idea that children at the age of 11 should be reading 50 books a year. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/8395784/Children-should-read-50-books-a-year-says-Gove.html
It’s a laudable idea. One that gently flirts in the mind and you start to think how it could be achievable. I remember being a bookish child and the thought of being asked to read 50 books would have made me respond “Just 50?”. I know that this policy idea comes from a desire to encourage children to read more than the books set for their SATs or GCSE’s. I read widely around the GCSE curriculum. I was (and remain) a voracious reader. It wasn’t something that was taught to me, it was encouraged. The school librarian made sure there was a wide range of books that were always being refreshed; Mr Griffin, Mrs Mills, Miss Blake, Mrs Lavadera and Mr Pope (my English teachers at school) gave us a rich diet of novels, poetry and non-fiction to study, enjoy and learn. They planted the seeds of a love of literature, it was up to me to nurture, tend and watch my love of books turn into Audrey II. (That’s the giant person eating plant from Little Shop of Horrors)
Having experienced slightly enforced book reading I can also attest to the slightly joyless feeling it can bring to reading. You’ve always got your eye on what’s coming next on the list, silently calculating how many pages you need to read a day to keep up, ploughing through narratives without noticing detail. There’s a time and a place for that kind of reading but it’ll never engender a deep resonating love of books that will flourish into adulthood.
(I took on the Man Booker Prize Challenge to read everything on the prize long list before they announced the winner. Hilary Mantel, I curse you for Wolf Hall. Under more normal circumstances I think I would have enjoyed it)
Here’s my suggestions for 50 books a person should read by the time they’re 18 (they’re in no particular order and not arranged into age appropriateness, just don’t give On The Road to an 8 yr old, ok?)
Think I’ve missed anything off? Stick your suggestions in the comments box.
1) Where the wild things are by Maurice Sendak.
2) On The Road by Jack Kerouac.
3) The Catcher In The Rye- J. D. Salinger
4) The chronicles of narnia- CS Lewis
5) Little House on the prairie Laura Ingalls Wilder
7) Brave New World- Aldous Huxley
8) Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland- Lewis Carrol
9) Anything written by Roald Dahl. Just grab one of the books, they’re all marvellous.
10) Lord of the Flies – William Golding
11) Oliver Twist- Charles Dickens.
12) Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
13) The Day of the Triffids – John Wyndham
14) The Jungle Book – Rudyard Kipling
15) The Railway Children- E Nesbit.
16) Flowers for Algernon – Daniel Keyes
17) The Sterkarm Handshake/The Sterkarm Kiss: Susan Price
18) Charlotte’s Web: EB White
19) Tom’s Midnight Garden: Philippa Pearce
20) The Sheep-Pig: Dick King-Smith
21) The Iron Man: Ted Hughes
23) To Kill a Mockingbird: Harper Lee
24) Watership Down- Richard Adams
25) Nation- Terry Pratchett
26) Partners in Crime- Agatha Christie
27) The knife of never letting go – Patrick Ness
28) Ways to live forever – Sally Nicholls
29) A begonia for Miss Applebaum – Paul Zindle. (I cried my heart out!)
30) Grinny – Nicholas Fisk
31) Leviathan – Schott Westerfield
32) Z for Zachariah – Robert C. O’Brien
33) Plague 99, After the Plague and Watchers at the Shrine – Jean Ure
34) Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
35) The Mysteries of Harris Burdick- Chris Van Allsburg
36) Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willlems
37) The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
38) The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
39) Struwwelpeter, by Heinrich Hoffman
40) Underwater Adventure, by Willard Price
41) The Go-Between by LP Hartley
42) Coraline, by Neil Gaiman
43) The Water Babies, by Charles Kinglsey
44) The Wave, by Morton Rhue
45) A Wizard of Earthsea, by Ursula K LeGuin
46) His Dark Materials Box Set, by Philip Pullman
47) The Bad Beginning, by Lemony Snicket
48) The Spiderwick Chronicles – Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi
49) Nicholas Dane by Melvin Burgess
50) Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman
- Children ‘should read 50 books a year’, says Gove (telegraph.co.uk)
- A lovely book that looks back at the experience of being a child reader is The Child That Books Built by Francis Spufford.