Friday 28 June 2013

The Rights of the Reader

There's a wonderful book called The Rights of the Reader by celebrated French writer Daniel Pennac. The book sold over a million copies in France, and grew out of Pennac's experiences of teaching in "challenging" schools. Central to the book is his belief that readers have rights: to read what, how, where and when they want, and – if they choose – the right NOT to read. It has been introduced by Quentin Blake who has also done its gorgeous and witty illustrations. There is also a poster available which illustrates The Reader's Bill of Rights, listed here:

1. The right to not read

2. The right to skip pages

3. The right to not finish

4. The right to reread

5. The right to read anything

6. The right to escapism

7. The right to read anywhere

8. The right to browse

9. The right to read out loud

10. The right to not defend your tastes.

Read the book, and then please do go back to Give a Book.

Thursday 20 June 2013

More news from inside...Chibundu Onuzo at a prison reading group.

Chibundu  Onuzo’s  The Spider King’s Daughter is a first novel of degrading poverty and fabulous wealth, laced with vigorous dialect, and set in her native Nigeria. Readers at an HMP were lucky to have an author visit from Chibundu Onuzo recently, organised by the Librarian. Support from Give a Book provided 25 copies of the novel for readers throughout the prison.
This was a lively and enjoyable event, with a large group of readers who had really engaged with the novel, and found its story of the relationship between a street hawker and a millionaire’s daughter fascinating and absorbing. It’s a novel which opens your eyes to the extremes of Nigerian society, from the Louboutins and swimming pool lifestyle of the super-rich to the subsistence level existence of the very poor.  There are fascinating glimpses of West African life – the food vendor who keeps pieces of fried meat in a secret compartment of her bra for favoured clients, the wealthy teenagers who are confident their fathers will pay someone clever to sit their entrance exams for Yale.
As well as facing really in-depth questions (at one time she said to one questioner, `You know this novel better than I do!’)  Chibundu Onuzo read several hilarious extracts featuring the `pidgin’ which makes this novel so distinctive. For those familiar with it – quite a few in the audience -  this sense of a known place was what made the novel such an enjoyable read; others, like me, found some of the dialogue strange at first. But it’s Chibundu Onuzo’s skill at dialogue which makes The Spider King’s Daughter so rich. And I learned quite a lot: that women in Nigeria are called `Aunty’; older women would be `Ma’; you never address your parents by their first names.  Conversation on topics like this went on long after the formal question and answer session was over, and Chibundu Onuzo stayed for a long time chatting with the audience.
All the book group members and other readers at the prison are really grateful to Chibundu for her visit and for providing such a lively afternoon.
The reading group is part of the Prison Reading Groups (PRG) project. Now please go back to Give a Book.

Sunday 9 June 2013

The new Children's Laureate

We're all delighted at the announcement of Malorie Blackman as the new Children's Laureate. A wonderful writer and a wonderful reader whose mission is to "get more children reading and make reading irresistible in all its forms." There's an interview with her in The Guardian Review and her latest novel Noble Conflict is out now. There's a Blagger's Guide to the Children's Laureate in the Independent.  Now please do return to Give a Book.

Monday 3 June 2013

Our Patron

Give a Book is proud and thrilled to announce that the distinguished historian Lady Antonia Fraser, DBE has agreed to become our Patron. Her latest book is the hugely acclaimed Perilous Question: The Drama of the Great Reform Bill 1832.  Lady Antonia was the first person to choose a Book of the Month for us and has been an avid supporter from the start. Her own book The Pleasure of Reading
says it all--in it 40 leading writers explain what first made them interested in reading. They describe the comics and childhood classics that first inspired them to read, and what today continues to do so. Contributors include Simon Gray, Jeanette Winterson, Sir Ronald Harwood and Sue Townsend. It's our kind of book. So now please go back to Give a Book