The Rights of the Reader

4. The right to read it again

When our children are young we read the same book to them, again and again.

Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 10.09.08 AMI read The Little Yellow Digger every single day for probably five years. I still know it off by heart. Then there are the other favourites; Hairy McClary, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt and The Gruffalo. Just writing the titles down brings back a universe of happy memories and some of me hiding the books so that I didn’t have to read them every single day.

I feel that way about Wuthering Heights – much to the students dismay. I can hear then muttering, “Really? – yuck.” They only know that I read it most years because many boys do ask me what my favourite novel is. I also read Frankenstein every year, and not just because I teach it to my Year 12 class. I ‘love’ both of these novels and every time I delve back inside, it is like revisiting the best holiday destination. I discover new details, have different revelations, favour a new character and simply enjoy the old ones – all over again.

College boys love rereading the Cherub series by Robert Muchamore. A close second is the Alex Rider series or anything by Anthony Horowitz. In third place is Darren Shan. They read a lot of other books, I know because we have over 10,000 and they regularly go out the doors of the library. But the ones listed above have some magical formula which means that, reading it once is just not enough. These books fit the rights of the reader -no.4 –

The right to read it again!

And why not?

Here is a picture – just to remind you!Screen Shot 2013-05-21 at 10.08.17 AM


The Rights of the Reader

3. The right not to finish a book.

According to Daniel Pennac the author of The Right of the Reader there are thirty-six thousand reasons for not finishing a book. I often take books out of the Christ’s College library, seduced by the cover or the blurb on the back, only to get it home and fail to finish it.

Why is this? Not lack of time or the desire to read! On one level I could claim that I have failed to connect or that the topic does not interest me as I originally assumed it would. Or I may even admit that it is too serious for my state of mind at the moment and that really I want what librarians call ‘a page turner’. But in truth, I often fail to finish a book because it is just plain boring. Pennac describes this as, ‘I’m making no headway – I can’t find a way in.’  In other words – it bores you!

I often recommend to boys to take several books home for the holidays in case they do not like one of them. After all, not even Robert Muchamore appeals to all young adults.

Sometimes we mature into novels. So what we do not like one year, may well be the best book ever, the following. My message this week is, put it down if you are not enjoying it, or return it to the shelves. There are far too many books, over ten thousand in the library, to warrant laborious reading. We have a choice – so exercise right no.3!

Ignore the annoying person who comments loudly:

“How can you not like …….?”

You just can.