Book lists – let them guide you not constrain you

Today the TES printed a list of the 100 fiction books teachers would like children to read before leaving primary school. It’s a great list with great books but, as pointed out by The Telegraph, the newest book on the list is The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson published in 1999. Sixteen years ago.

The trouble with lists like this is that:

– they often overlook excellent newly published books – books that children see promoted in bookshops or elsewhere and want to read

– they are an easy ‘go to’ for adults looking to buy books for children and in some cases the list become a ‘must read’ rather than a ‘suggested read’

I think book lists are an excellent idea – they can focus you when you aren’t sure what to buy/read next and they can remind you of some ‘oldies but goldies’. Just as I feel strongly that book lets should be up to date and relevant doesn’t mean I think they should exclude older books – in fact two recent book reviews on this blog are for series published in 2006 (Noughts and Crosses) and 2008 (Spud).

Book lists should guide you but not constrain you. I made a similar point when looking at the list of books recommended by Tony Little, Eton’s head – another rather dated list. So use the lists but use them with caution – don’t ignore recently published books and don’t ignore the reader’s interests. If they don’t like Roald Dahl then don’t make them read him. It doesn’t matter how many lists he appears on. The ultimate aim is to encourage reading and a love of reading.


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