Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Great Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones has died. She leaves a legacy of great books, including Howl's Moving Castle, one of my favourites.

The Guardian has a very good obituary and it made me grin:

"She was amused by the considerable academic attention her work attracted; reading in one paper that her work was 'rooted in fluidity', she remarked: 'Obviously hydroponic, probably a lettuce, possibly a cabbage.'"

I love how authors often view academic criticism of their work. It's a good reminder to academics not to take themselves quite so seriously.

I was also delighted to learn something new as I read Neil Gaiman's blog post: "she told me once that the young Chrestomanci in The Lives of Christopher Chant was sort of based on me too." I did not know that. I'm tempted to break that book out again now.

The strength of a great author is in how their legacy continues to make you smile.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Kids Need to Read

Today on the bus to and from campus, I was listening to the Geek Dad podcast with Nathan Fillion and P.J. Haarsma, who were talking about Kids Need To Read. It was fascinating listening to authors and other vested parties talking about the importance of giving kids access to books - and not just to books that teachers or librarians think they should read, but simply to books.

We'd just been talking in class about why as a society we value reading. The discussion was in relation to Pratchett's The Amazing Maurice and His Education Rodents, in which rats like Dangerous Beans and Peaches learn to read and write and want to pass these skills on. How often do we study literature, but not really think about why it's important? How often do we say 'kids should read' without really articulating why? Of course, the answer isn't easy or singular. Although, I think ultimately it does come down to the ability to think more. Reading gives us access to all kinds of thinking that we can use in our lives and writing gives us an opportunity to express and share what we think. There are other ways to do this, of course, but reading and writing are among the most common and widespread and have helped build incredible communities.

I'd love to start a project like Kids Need To Read. It'd be great to integrate into a subject like Children's Literature. One day!

Incidentally, pop over to P.J. Haarsma's website - it is pretty amazing.