Saturday, May 25, 2013

Sir Quentin Blake: Children need illustration to read

Children learn to read after being captivated by pictures, Sir Quentin Blake has said, as he argues no-one should be compelled to try heavy texts too young.

Quentin Blake speaks at the Hay Festival 2013
Quentin Blake speaks at the Hay Festival 2013 Photo: Jay WIlliams

Sir Quentin, the former children's laureate, said he had been put off reading temporarily after attempting to tackle challenging books too young.
He added children enthralled by pictures would then naturally move on to Dickens at an "appropriate age".
Speaking at the Telegraph Hay Festival, Sir Quentin told an audience that children learn to read from an "emotional motivation", as he urged educators not to "turn their backs" on the fun of illustrations.
"The relationship between text and illustration can on occasion be quite complex, but what illustration can first of all do is to welcome you to the book," he said in the Hay Library Lecture.

"I was lucky enough to have a similar experience in illustrating A Christmas Carol, and a secondary schoolteacher wrote to me recently from Nottingham to say that the school had had the enterprise to buy 90 copies, enough for three classes. 'Now they are all reading Dickens.'" 

He added: “They [children] learn because they want to. The emotional motivation is immensely strong: no one should be turning their back on that.”
He told the Telegraph he had read Oliver Twist at a young age and was put off Dickens for "another ten years" before learning to love it.
"You should be reading serious books but the appropriate age," he said.
"There is a sort of intimacy about drawings. If you are small, you feel that they're addressing you; it's like a conversation.
"These things develop people's feelings about books and about reading." 

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