The Children's Book Compass

Rights of Readers

Posted on: January 20, 2010

The Rights of the  Reader by Daniel Pennac, translated by Sarah Adams.  Illustrated by Quentin Blake.  (2008).   176 pages.  Candlewick Press.  For adults.  Nonfiction

Quentin Blake writes in the foreword to the new translation of Daniel Pennac’s The Rights of the Reader,

… we are now in an era of tests and targets.  There is nothing wrong with accountability; properly understood we need it.  What is disturbing is the withering effect of its demands when they are not properly understood.  …  In reaction to this, many well-known authors who write for children and young people have spoken up for a tradition of real books and real poems, one might almost say for real life.

Good books are the antidote to a mindless curriculum that is oriented towards testing.  We need an affirmative action program to revitalize the love of reading.  Pennac suggests such a program in reading aloud:

As a teacher, you will only patch up your students’ relationship with reading on one condition: that you ask for nothing in return. Nothing.  Don’t bombard them with information.  Don’t ask any questions.  Don’t add a single word to what you’ve read.  No value judgments, no glossing the meaning of difficult words, no textual analysis, no biographical information.  Ban any talking around the subject.

Reading as a gift.

Read and wait.

Curiosity is awakened, not forced.

Read, read, and have faith that eyes will open, faces light up, that a question will be born and lead to more questions. (p.119)

Don’t miss Pennac’s ten Rights of Readers at the end of the book.  I have made a handout of those rights and give them to my literature classes on the first day.

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1 Response to "Rights of Readers"

I found it! Looks good Marilyn… 🙂

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Pointing the Direction to New Books for Children and Teens

Marilyn Carpenter, PhD.

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