Daily Archives: October 30, 2006

Readers’ Rights

Over a decade ago I came across the delightful book, BETTER THAN LIFE, by Daniel Pennac. A short, but compelling reading manifesto, I’ve returned to it again and again over the years. Now I see (thanks to achukablog and a review in the Guardian) that Walker Books in the UK has come out with a new translation, introduced and illustrated by Quentin Blake, called THE RIGHTS OF THE READER .

The heart of Pennac’s book is “The Reader’s Bill of Rights” (or “The Rights of the Reader” in the new translation) which you can see here or, better yet, download in a poster illustrated by Blake here.

My only caveat is that it is important to recognize that these are rights for pleasure reading not all reading. As important as I think it is to get children to enjoy reading, I also think we need to be honest that not every kind of reading is for pleasure. Sometimes we read for very utilitarian reasons, say to understand the directions on how to fill out a form to renew a driver’s license or, in the case of my young students, on how to do a particular section of a standardized test. Not all of Pennac’s rights apply in such cases (e.g. quiting and skipping would be disasters:).

Still, I highly recommend this wonderful book (either the edition available in the US now or the Walker edition in the UK).

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