Dear God, Whatever Happened To Reading For Fun..?

Susie Day has clearly forgotten that’s what people do:

Books for eight to 12s are often about growing up, self-discovery, overcoming a challenge. In classic children’s fiction, physical disability tends to be co-opted not only as a cautionary tale, but a completely useless one where it turns out you’ll be ok in the end – so long as you’re nice, or you try hard. The Secret Garden’s invalid Colin apparently only needs a bit of fresh air and gardening to magically regain his health. In What Katy Did, Katy’s spinal injury is a lesson in patience and goodness; once she’s learned it, she walks again.

Ah, here we go again. Every children’s book should have a cast big enough to reflect all races, creeds and body forms.

. The #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign continues to go from strength to strength, and sites like Disability in Kidlit , and Cindy Pon and Malinda Lo’s Diversity in YA are fantastic resources for authors and readers alike – but these campaigning sites exist for good reason.

Mostly, they seem to exist to give people who like books merely for the propagandising avenue they offer, not for their intrinsic reading pleasure, yet another thing to squawk about.

There are happy exceptions: Julia Golding’s Young Knights adventure fantasy series features a wheelchair user; Jacqueline Wilson’s wonderful Katy is a retelling of What Katy Did, with a more honest conclusion (you can read a review of Katy by teen site member Writer on Wheels here) But the idea that young people with disabilities (congenital or acquired, physical and/or mental, mild to severe, single or overlapping) might be entitled to find themselves in fiction – not to teach able children to be better people, not to be cured, not to be “issues” but to cast spells and time-travel and worry if they’re wearing uncool trainers – sadly still seems a challenge for our industry. Adults can be cruel, too.

And we need to do better.

They’ll sell if they are enjoyable to read. And if they aren’t, they won’t.

And there’s not a thing the identity groups and the SJWs can do about that. Thank heavens.

7 comments for “Dear God, Whatever Happened To Reading For Fun..?

  1. john in cheshire
    December 23, 2015 at 10:17 am

    While these serial agitators and trouble-makers might not yet be able to force individuals to buy their approved books, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are already planning to make them required reading in schools.

    Oh and JuliaM, Merry Christmas to you and all at OoL.

    • Mudplugger
      December 23, 2015 at 1:57 pm

      I suspect a novel based on the heroic achievements of a black, disabled, lesbian, muslim, single-mum, Green Party MEP would make it straight onto the SATs, GCSE and degree syllabus nationwide.

      Doesn’t need to be well-written, it ticks the right boxes – I can almost hear Jeffrey Archer’s pen scratching away writing it already……

  2. December 23, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Harry Potter books are chokka with ‘special’ kiddies.

    • opsimath
      December 23, 2015 at 11:25 am

      Considering the woman who wrote the Harry Potter books, this hardly comes as a surprise. I can’t say, tbh, as I’ve never had the slightest interest in reading any of them.

      • mike fowle
        December 23, 2015 at 8:16 pm

        I must admit I was taken in by the clever marketing of Harry Potter. The secrecy, the release at midnight etc., and the earlier books are readable although not actually very original but the later ones are so self indulgent they are an embarrassment. If ever a writer needed a good editor…

  3. Bunny
    December 23, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    If I recall correctly Rosemary Sutcliff had a disabled main protagonist, the only trouble with these people is that the books the propose will be inflicted upon children through the schools reading list.

  4. Hereward Unbowed.
    December 25, 2015 at 2:20 am

    Reading books during childhood was a joy – as it was a great adventure and all dreamed up, from the harsh black sands of Mordor to the sweeping Savannah of Africa – I’ve been travelling…long….. and of course a Naval rating, submariner, a Space craft commander too, gold prospector/miner, buccaneer, cavalry officer and marine commando……too!

    As a kid, we had a library of dad’s books, I sort of went wild and native; ‘Wind in the Willows’ to ‘the famous five’, Biggles and ‘prester John’ and ‘King Solomon’s mines’ to ‘Lord of the Rings’ and on to Hornblower of C.S. Forrester, to Bolitho of Alexander Kent and Maclean, onto Wilbur Smith and so many others memories pouring in…….. Plus, school bashed it in with Dickens with some ancient Greek mythological adventures interwoven and Keats and Yates plus Shakespeare too – but who couldn’t love all of that?

    Imagination, it’s where it’s at.

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