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'Our relationship with books'

4 April 2011

'"Consider the nature of what happens when we read a book... in private, unsupervised, unspied-on, alone. It isn't like a lecture; it's like a conversation. There's a back-and-forthness about it. The book proposes, the reader questions, the book responds, the reader considers. We bring our own preconceptions and expectations, our own intellectual qualities, and our own limitations too, our own experience of reading, our own temperament, our own hopes and fears, our own personality to the encounter.

And we are active about the process. We are in charge of time... we're not anchored to a piece of unwieldy technology or required to be present in a particular building with several hundred people. We can read in bed, or at the bus stop or (as I used to do when I was younger and more agile, up a tree).

We can skim or we can read it slowly; we can read every word or we can skip long passages... we can look at the last page first or decide to wait for it...we can assent or we can disagree.

So our relationship with books is a profoundly, intensely, essentially democratic one... It's dynamic. It changes and develops as our understanding grows, as our experience of reading - and of life itself - increases..."

I'm tempted to quote the entire piece but you can find it for yourself on the internet. It's called The War on Words. And if you read it, notice the wonderful language in which it's written and compare it with the brief extract I read earlier. If we are to debate literacy, the quality of the language we use has to matter.'

Anthony Horowitz quoting Philip Pullman