It’s the school summer holidays, hurrah! Groan! For children who are blessed (and cursed) with a slow perception of time, these six weeks can feel like they stretch into infinity. As a book eating boy, my long summer months were spent in southern Spain where it was too hot to do anything more than sit and devour my way through large piles of books on extended loan from the local library.
Today libraries are actively encouraging this sort of behaviour with a summer reading challenge. Children are gently bribed into reading six books with the promise of a couple of stickers at the end of each one. It’s a lovely, cheap idea, but in my house, where Nintendo DS is god, it can feel a little like pulling teeth. So how else to get children engaged in reading books I wondered?
A few days ago I came across this genius blog, in which a mum asks her six year old to review some adult books based solely on the front cover. The results are funny, and strangely revealing. It struck me that this might also be a fun way to get children to think about how stories can flow from images.
So I chose a few of my favourite modern classics for my two to review, beginning with Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis. It wasn’t long before we found ourselves getting confused by sexual politics and the fulfillment of a life spent smoking. I think Kingsley would have approved.
So what’s it all about?
G. It’s about an old man smoking.
C. About an old man being cross all the time.
Turns to back cover: Those two men and that woman… that woman is their boyfriend and those men are her girlfirend.
Why’s he called ‘lucky’ Jim?
G. Because he’s got loads of money.
C. And he likes smoking. He always gets loads of stuff for smoking.
Sounds better than the new Martin Amis I’m sure you’ll agree.
Here’s what ‘Kingsley Amis’ thought of their judgement.