Age appropriate reading

In my last year of school there was a child in class one who would sit at the front of the school bus and read. He lived near me and ours was the last stop in the afternoons, and once when his mother couldn’t come to pick him up I’d offered to take him home. He refused and walked on ahead of me in a very dignified manner so I followed behind and looked like I had nothing to do with him till I’d seen him safely inside his house. But yes. So he was six years old, and I never asked what he was reading but once someone else did and it was a Famous Five book. Which didn’t seem (to me) particularly startling reading for a six year old, but it did to a group of slightly older children who grabbed the book out of his hands and demanded that he tell them the meaning of a few randomly selected multisyllabic words till he’d “proved” to their satisfaction that he was in fact capable of reading the book. Because they hadn’t been able to read those books when they were six. He told them the meanings of the words in an appropriately dignified manner and returned to his book. I liked that kid.

8 Comments to “Age appropriate reading”

  1. no such thing as age appropriate reading, if you ask me. which is why i resent all the young adult type categories. what’s wrong with reading whatever catches your fancy whenever it does? if it’s too big for you, you either give it up or forget it until later.

    the same stupid let’s-see-if-you-understood-the-story tactic used to be practised by our teachers. library period, you borrow one book and sit at a table. if you finish and ask for another, they want you to tell them the story before they give you another book to check that you’ve really read the book and understood.


    and good for the kid!

    (this should go on the other post, but yes, I have the George Stweart. We should do an exchange – UKlG/GRS)

  2. I know, I’ve never understood why all our minds are supposed to grow in exactly the same way at exactly the same pace. I’ve often seen people walk into bookshops, go up to a shop assistant and ask for a book “for a seven year old”, as if that’s enough information right there.

    Also, how long id your teachers carry on this practice? I mean, I can imagine upto a certain standard of reading merely knowing the plot would be enough, but after that? “Go back and read it again, you have clearly not appreciated the metaphysical subtext”?

    Bookswappage sounds good. Email?

  3. mail’s on the BB list!

  4. I’ve never heard if this before. Prove I can understand the book I’m reading? Why’s that, and pardon my choice of words, any of anybody’s fucking business?

    And. Have you ever had books withheld because you’re too young — not that they oozed sex’nviolence, but they would ‘distrub your brain’. And when I read a magazine at her place, this obnoxious neighbour would peer over my shoulder to make sure I wasn’t reading the personal problems column.

    I really like this kid. I do. Except that maybe he should socialise a bit more. Or he’ll grow into a sulking-inna-corner sourface like me.

  5. When I was in school (the Convent years…) we weren’t deemed fit to actually choose our own books during the Library period. The class monitor was handed a pile of books which she would distribute in a very linear manner. We read what we could in 25 minutes, and turned returned them to the class monitor, who would hand it back to the bearded librarian.

    In class six, when we entered the senior block, I thought things would change. But no. The librarian took over the duties of the class monitor, and we would be handed books like Enid Blyton’s The Six O’Clock Tales. Six O’Clock Tales! To 11 year olds!!

    I changed my school.

    Good kid,that.

  6. In our school, my biggest gripe was that Gerald Durrell’s books were divided seemingly arbitrarily between the junior and senior reading lists.

    When I was 11 or so, I finished those in our junior list, and I would stay after school and read the senior ones, which the assistant librarian, who was a very nice woman, would let me do.

    The head librarian found out and took me to my class-teacher to complain because these other books were somehow inappropriate for me (because she thought so), and I was committing a sin by reading them. I read the book later, of course (under the pretext of a class project), and I think her outrage was because there were naked baboons in it. Or something.

  7. space bar – will email, then.

    Rimi – Because it is everybody’s business to make you have Right Thoughts.
    I had a teacher in class 8 who wished to know if the sweet valley high books didn’t give us…Ideas?
    Society needs more Sourface.

    Koyel – Good grief. What school was this? Also, judging by the kids in my bus, Six O’Clock Tales was probably about the average reading standard.

    Adi – …as opposed to fully clothed baboons?
    Our library had certain arbitrarily chosen books marks for use of people in class 11 and above only. If I remember right, Richard Bach was in this section. However, the only graphic depiction of sex I ever came across in there was in the unmarked, open to all section.

  8. Carmer Convent :)

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