Does it matter what they read while they read?

A constant question comes to us when we think about children’s literature and reading mediation. And it’s about literature’s quality that both, children and young people read out of the school. Therefore, a lot of mediators talk, in good and bad way, about Twilight, Hunger Games, Harry Potter, Delirium. We can agree or not about different qualities of those and other books, but the real point about it is: does it matter what they read while they read?

To start this reflection, that tortures me every so often, I’ll borrow the wise words of the great Liliana Bodoc, pronounced at the Seminar “How we read the world”, organized by Lee Chile Lee  –National reading promotion plan- accomplished in Santiago, on august 2013.

Liliana points out: “That happens a lot in children’s and young people’s literature. We are worried about what you tell and we forget about howwe tell; and it turns out that how you tell is literature’s clue and if we don’t give a how to our children, we are not giving them real literature.”

The problem appears when we have to identify the how. We usually make a mistake identifying or even noticing this how so we send all the literary works to the gallows. We think young people are unable to identify if the story is well told o not, and we also think that they are just looking for action, adventures and tormenting romance. Sure, it’s very possible that happens a lot of times, but so many others, they have taken a wide reading advantage and, as I will repeat over and over, to read you learn by reading.

Ana Díaz-Plaja gave me a great example a couple of months ago: “I heard a little reader to say: ‘I read Twilight and I thought it was the best book ever. And, of course, I had just read one. As I was reading other stuffs I started to see fails in Twilight.’ Fortunately, nobody told her not to read that book.

I believe the clue is in trusting –even when it sounds crazy- that if one person chooses by him/herself to read a book we have a great part of the ground covered. That choice means that this person has founded a little pleasure in the act of reading and he/she will continue reading. Nobody will prohibit recommending books but we must avoid that this recommendation contains an authority tone or, worse, a judging tone to the selection made by the child or the youth. Let’s recommend from reader to reader.

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