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Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle www.mn.catholic.org.au
If kids are literate,
but don't like
reading, then fine
BY JOHN MARSDEN
Internationally acclaimed Australian writer,
teacher and principal, John Marsden,
graciously accepted an invitation to write
My wife and I have just completed a
monumental achievement! We read the
seven volumes of Harry Potter to our three
youngest children: 10 year-old twin boys
and their brother, aged 8. This means we
read about 1.2 million words, although I
must admit I skipped a couple of hundred
(JK Rowling uses so many adverbs...!)
My wife is strongly of the opinion that JK
Rowling needed a more assertive editor.
She has a point when it comes to adverbs,
but our boys would not agree. I have never
known a book or series to grip them more
intensely. With Harry Potter, JK Rowling
has given parents one of the most powerful
tools we have ever owned. We could get
our kids to tidy their rooms, clean their
teeth, pick up the dog poo in the backyard
and -- stand by to be totally amazed! --get
themselves to bed on time, with the simple
incantation "... or there'll be no Harry
We found this to be more effective than
Incendio, Lumos, Petronus, Stupefy or any
other spells that Harry and his compatriots
learn at Hogwarts.
So good on JK Rowling, and while I'm on
the subject, good on Paul Jennings, Morris
Gleitzman, Andy Griffiths, the late Roald
Dahl, and Dav Pilkey (creator of Captain
Underpants). These half a dozen writers
have done more than anyone else on the
planet to get 21st century children reading.
We should strike medals for all of them.
Their achievement is remarkable when you
consider the strength of the competition.
Movies, TV, computer games, iPads, iPods,
mobile phones, Xboxes, Wiis, Nintendos...
and then there's swimming, surfing, cricket,
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John Marsden peruses
Aurora on a recent visit to
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