Tag Archives: Reading

Gove – “50 books a year?” Give us a break

31. Of Mice and Men [208]

Fifty books a year – that’s the recommended annual amount of literature in the government’s latest ‘nanny state’ proclamation. Education Secretary Michael Gove is intending to shake up the national curriculum and make teachers less reliant on staple – and therefore short – texts like John Steinbeck’s of Mice and Men and increase variety and quality of recommended reading for students. Laudable.

But it has been suggested that this should also apply to adult’s reading. Who’s got the time?

I like reading – I’m addicted to it – but 50 books a year – that’s a book a week. Try fitting reading that volume in around the pressures of a busy family life and a full-time job.

Not to mention the cash to buy them or the lack of libraries from which to borrow them if government and local authority cuts force their closure.

Reading with the kids improves literacy

Cover of "The Ghost of Thomas Kempe"
Cover of The Ghost of Thomas Kempe


It’s my son’s birthday today. He enjoys reading so among his presents are a couple of books about science and space.  

There’s no fiction though, the stuff we enjoy reading together at night. He asked me recently about books that I enjoyed as a child. There are so many it was impossible to give him a definitive answer. We have read many of them together already – The Narnia Chronicles, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Owl Service and so on.  

One in particular did spring to mind though – The Ghost of Thomas Kempe by Penelope Lively. It won the Carnegie Medal for Children’s Literature in 1973. The edition I had as a child was a 1975 paperback edition from Piccolo – now long gone. I bought it in the school bookshop as a ten year-old – coincidently the same age as my son is today. I was attracted by the cover more than anything. It’s the story of a boy who moves to a cottage and gets the blame for the mischief caused by the eponymous troublesome spook.  

I thought ‘wouldn’t it be nice if I could find a copy of that to give to him.’ And I have – on the excellent Abe Books website. A quick trawl and three or four pages in I found the exact edition I was looking for (not the one pictured incidentally). I’ve lightened the wallet by the princely sum of £7.00 and the volume is on its way. I can’t wait to start reading it to him.  

Reading aloud to your child will help improve their literacy and encourage them to read themselves. There is no doubt about it. My children like to be read to – but they also enjoy reading to me, which is a relaxing way to end a busy day.