The Rights of the Reader

1. The right not to read.

“You can’t make someone read. Just like you can’t make them fall in love, or dream…”Screen Shot 2013-03-21 at 11.43.05 AM

Daniel Pennac from Rights of the Reader

I have just discovered this gem of a book and I can’t put it down. I am very much exercising my right to read it anywhere, dip into it, skip sections, laugh out loud and read sections again. I have resisted the urge to read it out loud to boys in the library! Another teacher today, asked me, ‘What are you doing reading a book?’

‘Well,’ I replied, ‘I do work in a library…’

As teacher/librarian, my mantra is that Reading Matters. I am concerned with what boys read, how they read it, when, why and how much. I know that parents are most certainly concerned with their sons reading ability, their lack of reading and what – when they are – reading. I know this because as an English teacher this issue is raised at every parents evening I have ever been involved in.

This book has reminded me that you can’t make a boy read. You can provide them with material, deny them T.V. and send them to their rooms. But you can’t make them read a book. A wonderful extract from the novel captures how many a boy feels when faced with such a daunting task;

Look at them now…in their bedroom, with a book they’re not reading. The urge to be somewhere else is a murky screen between them and the open page, blurring the lines. There they are, by the window, behind the closed door. Page forty-eight. They don’t want to think about how long it’s taken them to reach this forty-eighth page. The book contains exactly four hundred and forty-six of them. Call it five hundred! The pages are crammed with lines, squeezed between tiny margins; black paragraphs stacked on top of one another; here and there the relief of a conversation – speech marks, like an oasis, denoting one character talking to another. And then there’s a run of twelve pages. Twelve pages of black ink! It’s suffocation. Totally suffocating…If only they could remember what those first forty-eight pages were about.

Funny as this may be, many boys find reading physically painful. Luckily, in the library, we know this and we are armed with strategies to entice boys in. Next week is Easter week. Our strategy is chocolate.

So, send your boy to us, and we will send him away with a book and a chocolate egg!

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