Author’s Impassioned Plea for Citizen Action on Libraries & Reading

The following are exerpts from an edited version of Neil Gaiman‘s lecture for the Reading Agency, delivered on Monday October 14 at the Barbican in London. “Neil Gaiman: Why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming: A lecture explaining why using our imaginations, and providing for others to use theirs, is an obligation for all citizens.”

Read the full text at The Guardian.

Neil Gaiman

“Fiction has two uses. Firstly, it’s a gateway drug to reading. The drive to know what happens next, to want to turn the page, the need to keep going, even if it’s hard, because someone’s in trouble and you have to know how it’s all going to end … that’s a very real drive…

“Well-meaning adults can easily destroy a child’s love of reading: stop them reading what they enjoy, or give them worthy-but-dull books that you like, the 21st-century equivalents of Victorian “improving” literature. You’ll wind up with a generation convinced that reading is uncool and worse, unpleasant…

“And the second thing fiction does is to build empathy. When you watch TV or see a film, you are looking at things happening to other people. Prose fiction is something you build up from 26 letters and a handful of punctuation marks, and you, and you alone, using your imagination, create a world and people it and look out through other eyes. You get to feel things, visit places and worlds you would never otherwise know. You learn that everyone else out there is a me, as well. You’re being someone else, and when you return to your own world, you’re going to be slightly changed…

“…our children and our grandchildren are less literate and less numerate than we are. They are less able to navigate the world, to understand it to solve problems. They can be more easily lied to and misled, will be less able to change the world in which they find themselves, be less employable…

“We all – adults and children, writers and readers – have an obligation to daydream. We have an obligation to imagine….”

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Filed under Books, Authors & Illustrators, Education, Reading

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