Here’s a Telegraph list of 100 books every kid should read. We’re at 10 of 14 on the early years list, and aren’t at the middle years yet, though where ever The Hobbit fits in, we’ll be starting there soon. From the introduction by Morpurgo:
Of course we must and should study literature in our schools, but first we have to imbue our children with a love of stories.
And to do that, parents and teachers have to have a passion for stories themselves: they have to pass it on. The children have to know that you mean it, you feel it, you love it. And a teacher needs to find the space – correction, the Government needs to give them the space in the curriculum – so that she or he can read stories to the children for at least half an hour a day.
Our teachers need the chance at college or university to come to know and love books. Let us train our teachers, not blame them. We have to unchain them, and trust them. It’s the tests and the targets that inhibit them, that bring fear into the classroom when children are too young to cope with it.
In Finland they do things differently. Finnish children stay at home much longer. They play and tell stories years after ours are sitting down in school to a target-driven curriculum. Maybe that’s partly why Finnish children are happier, and maybe that’s why they rate higher in the literacy stakes. Maybe they haven’t put the cart before the horse as we do. They give their children the time and space to grow up with stories, to enjoy them, so that the association develops slowly, organically, is not imposed.
Of course, he leaves out the bit where the Finnish children are each obligated to spend 1500 hours of indentured servitude in Santa’s workshop during the sunless months, sewing W’s on Webkinz for North American children. But I see his point, regardless.