The rights of the reader #childrensbookweek

This week it’s been Children’s Book Week (Twitter hashtag) and it would be remiss if we didn’t mention it at DYESTTAFTSA Towers. Because, you know, books! Books are good! And if you’ve not got that yet, then frankly I need to sit you down and have a good talk with you 😉

So I think I want to talk about reading and talk about it alongside the work of Daniel Pennac. Pennac is a writer that I came across thanks to Library Mice, and he’s one that I really enjoy. His book The Rights of The Reader is seminal and inspirational. In it, he talks about ‘The Rights Of the Reader’. This manifesto is something that needs to be savoured and can be viewed as a lovely poster here (which is illustrated by Quentin Blake! Quentin Flipping Lovely Blake!).

And from that, and because I’ve been thinking about reading and our responsibilities and impacts as readers, I thought I’d share with you the DYESTTAFTSA Guide To Reading (patent pending).

1. You are allowed to be selfish. You are allowed to wallow in a book and let the world slide by. You are allowed to read it on the toilet, at lunch, on the bus. You are allowed to make time for it.

2. You are allowed to read how and what you want to read and when to read it. Whether that reading is Minecraft manuals, a graphic novel, or Dostoyevsky, you are allowed to read it online, in paper, written in felt-tip on toilet paper, and sometimes to read nothing at all.

3. You are allowed to own the work, to remix it and remake it in your own shape. I’m talking about taking the words and the characters out of the book and imagining them in the real world, about playing The Tiger Who Came To Tea and fighting about who gets to be the Tiger, about staring at a cupboard and wondering, just wondering, if Narnia’s inside.

4. You are allowed to dislike a book, to loathe it and detest it. And you are allowed this because you understand that your feelings are vital and important and have a right to exist, and be understood.

5. You are allowed to stand in Asda and talk your Dad through the new How To Talk To Your Dragon books and pick up the new David Walliams. You are allowed books and literature to be there, to be everywhere you turn, to be on a shelf at school, gleaming in a display at the library or shelved next to the tomatoes. You are allowed books to be a part of your world.

6. And you are allowed to fall in love. You are allowed to be true to yourself with Eva Ibbotson, dance in fields with Lorna Hill, and climb mountains with Brent-Dyer. You are allowed to be part of these worlds and you are allowed, quite truly, quite madly, to enjoy it.

7. You are allowed all of this. And more. And you are allowed it, wholly.

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