It's not really that I feel inclined to criticise everything that Michael Gove says, it's more that I feel that he has a need to engage his brain before going for the nearest soundbite. So, here is my rant, or measured argument, to the piece in The Telegraph today ( suggesting that children should read 50 books a year)
50 books a year. At an average of £6.99 that would cost £349.50 per child. As a way of ensuring a minimum spend on this can I suggest that the government spends our money on some kind of central warehousing for books where a child can go and select, say, four books, a months worth of reading, then when he/she has read them they could be returned so that other children could read them. These warehouses could be staffed by expert people who understand cataloguing and ordering books but also keep abreast of what is new in publishing, who get to know the 'borrowers' who can recommend books that might be interesting. We could call the warehouses libraries, and the gatekeepers could be librarians.
But I would also like to take issue with the idea of the reading challenge of 50 books. As a child I would have found this utterly daunting. I would have been lucky to manage 12, but I would have read them because I loved stories. I struggled to read, hated reading in class because I stumbled and fell over the simplest words, but I loved books. And when I read I was there, in the pages, lost, safe. I walked on the green grass of Wyoming, I rode on Aslan's back and I went hunting with the Antelope Singer. I could smell Australia in the pages of The Silver Brumby.
Again it would seem that a memeber of our government knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing. It is not how many books you read, but how you are engaged and tangled in books. A person can read 50 books and learn nothing while another can read 5 and learn so much. A poem can say as much as a novel of 1000 pages. It's not how many you read how engaged you can be with a story, not how fast, but maybe I say this because I am slow. And how are these children who are tested almost night and day and have coursework etc to do to find the time?
This statement, this argument by a member of our government is yet again further proof of the fact that he is not fit to govern, neither is he fit to shape policies that will affect our children's education.
Maybe now I manage 20 books a year, at a push 30 ( cheating, reading pictures books, shorter!) I still read painfully slowly.
One of the things I loved most at school, especialy before I had learned to unlock the code I use now as my fingers move over this board, was the half hour when all our class sat quietly while the teacher simply but surely read a whole book to us over a period of days. Sometimes we all had a copy to follow. Sometimes we just sat and listened. And when we did that pictures would dance in my head.