Reading for its own sake is not worthwhile, according to the bestselling author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.
John Boyne believes that children would be better off climbing a mountain or learning a language than reading thoughtlessly or without discrimination.
“People often say, ‘As long as you’re reading, it’s good’,” he told TES. “But what’s the point of reading rubbish? There are so many better things you could do in life than reading, say, Fifty Shades of Grey. You could learn a language, climb a mountain. Reading for its own sake is not worthwhile.”
Boyne was speaking to TES following the publication of his latest book for children, The Boy at the Top of the Mountain. His earlier children’s novel, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, is already studied in many key stage 2 and key stage 3 classrooms.
He believes that adults should not assume that all reading is equally valid – or that there should be, as former education secretary Michael Gove hoped, “a culture in which the more you read, the more you are celebrated”.
“Reading for its own sake – what’s the point of that, if people aren’t reading interesting or challenging books?” Mr Boyne said. “Then you’re just reading any words on the page, for the sake of reading words.”
He also said that reading historical fiction was a much more effective way to teach younger pupils history than studying factual accounts.
“Fiction engages with young people by igniting their imaginations,” he said.
“If the child reader goes on a journey with the character, and takes them through those events in history, then I think they’re more likely to be engaged with it. Non-fiction in the most part works when they’re older.”