Monday, 27 March 2017

Let Kids Read What They Want

Today, I saw one of the ugliest polls I have ever seen in my life.

A poll, quite surprisingly, from the Sunday Times.

The poll came as a general question after this article was published, describing a head teacher (note: a middle-aged, white, presumably heterosexual, upper class male) who is banning 'low quality' books in his school including the Twilight series, the Percy Jackson series, and the Skullduggery Pleasant series. He called them, and many others, “so simplistic, brutal or banal”. 

This, as you could probably guess, rustled my jimmies to perhaps a new height in the stratosphere to which my jimmies have never reached before. I am a HUGE advocate for letting children, especially young children in primary school, read whatever the hell they want. As long as they are reading, this should be enough.

Of course, you could argue that this just wouldn't work. Young children definitely need some level of guidance on the books that they can read during school hours. But, there is a more compelling argument that as long as they are reading books that match or begin to excel their individual reading age, then the genre really doesn't matter. In fact, allowing them to explore more contemporary books and giving them this free choice will encourage them to read more enthusiastically on school grounds and at home. 

There was another series of books that this very privileged man has decided to ban from the school premises, and those are... you've guessed it... Girl Online by Zoella. 

Zoella gets so much criticism from the traditional media outlets about her books. No matter what your opinion is on the current surge in books by Youtube content creators, the facts still stand: Zoella has completely smashed the sales records for books (beating JK Rowling and EL James in the process) which means that she sold more of her books in the first week of release than any other book every written since records begin in the 1980's. 

What can we conclude from this information? That more young people are taking an active interest in reading than ever before. They are taking initiative and asking parents to buy them a book that is appropriate for their age range, or saving up their own pocket money and buying the books themselves. THIS IS WHAT I CALL A RESULT!

And would you seriously rather more Fifty Shades of Grey books get sold than wholesome and funny books like Girl Online

At the end of the day, school libraries do have a responsibility to supply books that will not cause psychological harm to students or prevent them from developing their reading skills further. But this is a primary school we are talking about. Let the kids read their fantasy books about pirates and vampires and keep their imagination burning. After all, we need more budding authors for the future.

Zoella will not harm your students. Letting your personal taste about what is 'high quality' and 'low quality' literature will. 


  1. Great post! I'm with you on this one - I think it's important to encourage imagination, especially at such a young age. While parents should be discerning to a degree, kids at primary school age should just be encouraged to read. Period. Let them enjoy fantasy and let them dream.

    Amy @ A Magical World Of Words

  2. Firstly, at age 11 I'd be more worried about the age-appropriateness of Twilight than the literary content. There's sex in book 4. These are 11 year olds. #JustSaying

    Secondly, the words 'ban' and 'books' shouldn't be paired together. Ever. (Except in sentences like 'We won't ban books here!')

    If you want to stack the school library with literature and 'worthy' stuff (bearing in mind that Dickens and Shakespeare were the populist literature of their day and considered to be low-brow) then so be it, but let the kids read what books they want. If they want to bring in a book from home, then let them. (Within reason - if an 11-year-old brings in 50 Shades, you might wanna have a discussion with their parents/legal guardians!)

    Ugh! ANYTHING that gets kids into reading is not bad (within reason - see previous brackets) and for kids who might be struggling, forcing them to struggle their way through literature is only going to discourage them!

    (Sorry. Rant over.)

  3. What a wonderful post!! I wasn't aware of this poll and I'm appalled! Banning Percy Jackson? I daresay those books taught me so much about friendship and loyalty than the supposedly 'high class' books did. I haven't read Zoella's books but I have watched her videos and she's so humorous! Besides from what I know of her books, they're funny, feel good romance novels and I don't see one reason why young readers shouldn't pick them up!

    All the books that man has decided to ban are all age appropriate and frankly teach many values along with encouraging children to be creative. Books should NEVER be banned. Of course parents and teachers can make sure children are reading age appropriate stuff but BANNING books for such unreasonable reasons is so bad.

    And you know what scares me? That 17% people voted YES in that ugly poll! Urgh!

    Again great post! Completely agree with your points and sorry about the looong comment :P



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