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Michael Morpurgo: Pushing children towards literature doesn't work

16th November 2010

Forcing children to read certain books when young can ultimately put them off literature for life, Michael Morpurgo has argued.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, the former children's laureate said that many well-meaning parents attempt to push classic books on youngsters because these titles are considered to be the kind of works children 'ought' to be reading.

However, he added: '[These parents] treat literature as a kind of medicine or tool. But the children pick up on it quickly: they resist it and they become fearful.'

Morpurgo cited an example from his own childhood in the article, when he was encouraged by his stepfather to read Oliver Twist but found the language in the book to be too complicated and resisted reading more Charles Dickens for years.

The War Horse author added that one way children can be instilled with a true love of literature is if their parents and teachers display a genuine passion for books when reading to them.

Writing in a recent report, Ofsted head Christine Gilbert said that too many children are leaving primary schools without the expected reading and writing skills.
 

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