By Cedric Cullingford
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Extra info for Children's literature and its effects: the formative years
For them it is hard to make a clear distinction, and in that they are right. Those who assume that there is one immortal reality create a fantasy of their own. 53 They are constantly speculating on the possible, for what we subsequently declare are actualities are in fact our collective interpretations, our agreed definitions. 54 When they explore their environment they have to push the imaginary boundaries of what it contains. They are aware of the tension between the agreed and the personal points of view.
55 But I would argue that there are any number of different readers, bringing their own concerns and interests to bear, looking for the fulfilment of expectations on a number of levels. They know what to look for and know what to take. They are not passive receivers any more than they are perfect instruments of intellectual appreciation. What they have in common is a habit of reading that combines different levels of response. 28 A Secret World? 56 Each of these: People (readers) —^ doing (reading) —> Art (story) has more than one level.
Anyone reading books of this kind will consider the question of how to create an educated reading public an important one and is unlikely to feel that what people read does not matter. That there are great differences between the wealth of great literature and the world of the best seller is clear. The question is whether two different styles of readership is inevitable. 59 There are many more who yearn for the time when all people look to literature for personal development and social understanding, like the heroes of Hoggart's The Uses of Literacy, people who, whatever the disadvantages of their circumstances, develop a taste for erudition.
Children's literature and its effects: the formative years by Cedric Cullingford