Thursday, 12 June 2008

The Post That Vanished... spooky...!

Competitive parents beware
The concept of "reading age" is a funny thing. Those with children will be familiar with it, those who work in bookshops too - at some unspecified point in the school year it appears that somebody in authority Decrees what a child's reading age is (for the uninitiated - not remotely dependent on chronological age!) and suggests that they read accordingly. Which is fine - some kids read better and faster at earlier ages than others. In practice, however, it becomes another cause of panic for the parents - is he reading "the right age" of books? A nervous parent came in and asked for teenage books for her 9 year old, as he had recently been assessed as having a 14-yr-old reading age. It was totally in vain to tell her that most teenage books these days are entirely concerned with Issues that 9 year olds may be uncomfortable with, i.e. drugs, sex, people-trafficking, ASBOs, unwanted pregnancy, knives, mugging, and all the other joyful trappings of an ordinary teenager's life. "Oh, but he's terribly intelligent." she said, entirely missing the point, waving aside our protests and buying the poor child a copy of "American Psycho"... well, obviously not "American Psycho", but why even go on? Somewhere out there in Southwest London is a bewildered 9-year-old who will henceforth be terrified of girls, drugs, psychopaths, going outside at any time of day whatever, etc etc..
Political satire, ooh controversial
I was sitting in a friend's garden yesterday with various other people, some of whom genuinely had the day off, at least two of whom were "working from home" - ie feet up on a deckchair with laptop on. At one point my friend Eamo had to call his IT department to speak to someone called Osama about his inability to get email - whether he admitted he was trying to get emails while sitting in someone else's garden is a moot point. I only mention this because there is something profoundly ironic and unintentionally funny about someone on the phone saying "Can I speak to Osama please? .. Oh, he's not there... Do you know where he is?"

4 comments:

lucyfishwife said...

Hi there RB - oddly it published my post as if I'd written it on May 15th. So I had to find it in the archives. Freakish. Go figure.

Reluctant Blogger said...

Oh that's a bit weird - spooky indeed. Probably Osama himself - he thought you were on to him.

My sons have always been advanced readers (well two of them - my youngest takes about half an hour to work out that c-a-t spells cat) and I have always let them read anything they choose. It always amazes me that they don't choose anything inappropriate - they go for books featuring boys of much the same age that they are. But other people make horrendous choices with regard to books for them - my MIL bought my 11-year-old a book recently that was surely aimed at a late teen. Fortunately he read about two pages and then put it down and has not picked it up again.

lucyfishwife said...

I know exactly what you mean - I think kids instinctively know what they're ready for and what will give them nightmares. And there's so much well-written and uncondescending kids' stuff around these days they don't need to be overwhelmed! I worry that when/if they bring in the suggested compulsory age-rating on books it might put a lot of kids off reading things that may SAY "8-10years" when it's still enjoyable by older (and possibly younger) children...

Steve said...

Our boy Ben is a good reader and advanced for his age... but emotionally he just wouldn't be able to cope with older books. However we've got round it by buying him lots of encyclopaedia type books which stretch him a bit without scaring the pants of him. His current favourite is an encyclopaedia of Bionicles. When I try to read it I wonder if my reading age has fallen behind what it used to be...