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Quality Literature vs. “Twaddle” for Children

Quality Literature vs. “Twaddle” for Children

Anyone familiar with the Charlotte Mason curriculum will know that she believes in high quality literature as the only source of reading for children and warns against the evils of “twaddle”. Twaddle does not seem to have any clearly defined perimeters, but can be thought of as badly written rubbish, books without much value, and abridged versions of great works of literature. So for today’s children that would discount A LOT of children’s books. Although I do find almost any book written that comes from a cartoon, or Disney movie is badly written trash.

Now I do believe that it’s important to expose and encourage a child to read the best quality books as possible, I think there is something far more important… a general love of reading.

I have two children who come in at two extremes of the reading spectrum. The Girl LOVES reading! She will read anything, and is naturally very good… something I contribute to blessed genes more than anything else. Her brother, The Jedi Boy, although able to read well enough for his age, does not have his sister’s love of reading. For him, at this time, the important thing is to grow in confidence and slowly nurture that love for reading I want him to carry. He may never want to read War and Peace (well, you never know!!), but I want him to grow into a young man who will read for pleasure! His sister at this rate will be working on War and Peace by the age of 10!

The Jedi boy is not happy to just sit and listen to just any story (even now The Girl will happily listen into her 4 year old brothers bedtime stories), The Jedi Boy needs to WANT to listen. He needs to be interested in the book. And I have found he seems to like these abridged versions of great works of children’s literature (how Miss Mason would frown). He wants books that are interesting for his mind, but nothing too long, too taxing. And if he is enjoying books is that not what’s important. In a culture where boys “don’t do reading”, should we not encourage the times they find books they want to read? Children are good at challenging our dogma, and testing what is really important. With regards to reading, fundamentally the best thing we can give our children is confidence in reading, and a love of reading: what they read will develop over time and in accordance with their personality. And I can only hope in a few years time I’ll find him snuggled up in bed working his way through Treasure Island.

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