Would you rather your daughter read Twilight or Middlemarch?

Does it matter if 17-year-olds read Twilight or Middlemarch?
Does it matter if 17-year-olds read Twilight or Middlemarch?

I don’t often get political on this blog but I’ve just read Secretary of State for Education Michael Gove’s speech at the Brighton Conference. In the opening he says this:

“Parents, it is sometimes alleged, don’t want choice in education. Well, many of us here are parents, so let me pose some choices.

You come home to find your 17-year-old daughter engrossed in a book. Which would delight you more – if it were Twilight or Middlemarch?”

Now, stop me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the image of a 17-year-old engrossed in a book a good thing? I don’t care what she’s reading, she’s reading.

I did some talks at my daughter’s school today that covered this exact subject. I write tie-in books and audios for a living. Doctor Who, Skylanders and the like. I have books coming out later this year based on other franchises. Yes, they’re not high literature. Yes, they’re not classics. Yes, they’re linked to TV programmes and computer games and comics. But I hope they get kids who would never usually think of reading to pick them up and discover the joy of losing yourself in a book. Some might even be inspired to write their own stories.

Which would delight me more, Mr Gove? That my daughter is engrossed in a book in the first place. Who cares if it is Meyer or Elliot? If it’s inspiring her to read, then put out the bunting and shout hallelujah.

And you never know, because she’s reading Twilight, she might want to read Dracula. And if she reads Dracula, she might want to explore more Victorian literature. And if she explore more Victorian literature, she might discover the classics.

But she never will, if she fails to pick up a book in the first place.


1 Comment

Join the discussion! Leave a comment below!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.