Guest Blogger Review: The Rights Of The Reader by Daniel Pennac

Recently I had the opportunity to chat a bit with Kath from Insert Suitably Snappy Title Here.  We were discussing her post on the the book, The Rights Of The Reader.  Of course, it was the title that drew me in….   Here is a bit of our discussion, followed by Kath’s review.

Kath, how long have you been blogging?

Kath: I have been blogging for almost 4 years now. My blog started off as a way of finding my writing style but has



Meet Kath!

grown and developed into a book blog. Which is not surprising, given that I’m a complete book nut.


Hmmmm…. a complete book nut huh?  I would know nothing about that….LOL.   What do you find most enjoyable about blogging?

Kath: The thing I enjoy most about this blog is the fact that it has grown and developed with me. Now that I am in a position to spend more time on the things I love (reading and writing) I’ve really enjoyed making my blog into the sort of thing I’d always wanted to but never quite found the time to achieve.


Kath, why are you so excited about this book, Rights of the Reader?

Kath: The main thing that got me about this book is that it’s so true and so applicable. Right now, kids all over the world are learning to read and the accepted teaching methodologies risks turning a lot of kids off reading which is a huge loss not only to their lives but to the world. A more widely read population can only make for a better world, right? I also loved the way this book is written. Pennac uses the most gorgeous language to describe even the most ordinary situations which makes life sparkle.

It does sound interesting.  What are you hoping that people take away from this book?

Kath: I’m hoping that people will take away inspiration and understanding, as well as the tools to ensure that future generations love books as much as many of us have.

Thank you Kath for sharing your review here with us today.  Please be sure to stop by Kath’s blog at Insert Suitably Snappy Title Here and check out what else Kath is talking about!

Image credit: Here

aThe Rights of the Reader
By Daniel Pennac (Trans. Sarah Adams)
Published October 2006
Walker Books Limited
Cast your mind back. You’re seven years old and you’ve just got your very own library card. Surrounded by silence and the smell of words and promised adventures, you run giddily towards the children’s section. You run your hand over the shelves of books, some smooth, some bumpy, all tagged with some weird and unfathomable code. Before you know it, you’ve picked up something that has caught your attention and you’ve settled into the bright red beanbag for the long haul. You forget where you are, consumed by the voices and exploits of Asterix or the Famous Five and you can’t believe it’s time to go already when, an hour later, your Mum comes round the corner to find you.

Every week you come back and you always leave with a pile of books, one of which you’re usually half way through by the time you get home. The need to read consumes you: you sneak off to the toilet to get in a few pages, you read late at night with a torch under the bedcovers. You are, in fact, a veritable addict, looking feverishly along the shelves to find your next hit.

Then, somewhere along the line, something happens. Reading loses some of the joy it once held – it becomes, unthinkably, a chore. A task that has to be completed by next Monday, with an 800 word essay to boot. High school literature studies have come home to roost. English class is now peering over your shoulder, pointing out that you shouldn’t be reading that book, you should read this one, the required text. You know, the one sitting ominously on your desk, unreadable and daunting.

This is where the education system, according to Daniel Pennac, fails our kids. I recently read his amazing book The Rights of the Reader (translated by Sarah Adams) as part of a bookring through Bookcrossing and was very pleasantly surprised. I was expecting something completely different – a fun and lighthearted look at reading as a hobby – but was met with an entertaining and brilliantly written manifesto on the importance of teaching our future generations to love reading and not make it a “should” – a word sure to kill any desire to do something.

Pennac points out that as kids, we loved to hear stories and would beg our parents again and again to read us our favourite books. It is in this tradition of oral storytelling, he argues, that reading is based. It’s our desire to hear new stories and follow new heroes on new adventures that drives us from one finished book to the next new one. But as soon as interfere with our child’s relationship with books and we disturb the private “alchemist’s voice” in their minds, we start to suck their joy out of their reading experience. This, claims Pennac, is a crime of epic proportions. A relationship with books is one of the most consistent and satisfying ones that most people will have in their lives, after all.

The solution? Simple, claims Pennac. Take it back to the basics – oral storytelling. Read to those who have become disenchanted by the hard slog of required textbooks and compulsory reading. Re-introduce that spark. Draw them back in. Before you know it, they’ll have rediscovered that “alchemist’s voice” and they’ll be off in their own private world of books again.

This book was a really fascinating read for me as I recognised that I had suffered a period of book fatigue until pretty recently. As a kid, I was the one hiding under the sheets with a book and a torch. I read an insane amount of books from all sorts of genres, right up until the age of 15 – that’s when it started for me. Required reading to be completed within a ridiculously short period of time, essays to write and not to mention maths homework and geography study…. Luckily, I’ve rediscovered that old spark and have come back to the ranks of the voracious reader – one “right” at a time. If there’s anyone out there that has lost their spark, or knows someone who is struggling with reading – I highly recommend this book. It’ll surely help you bring them back from the brink of a world without books.

About Sheila (Book Journey)

Bookaholic * Audio Book Fan *Bike Rider *Rollerblader *Adventure Seeker *Runner*Coffee lover *Fitness Fan * Movie junkie

Posted on November 6, 2009, in Book Review and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. This sounds like a wonderful exploration of the joys of reading and the bugaboos that threaten this joy.

    We should always retain that joy!

  2. Thanks for the comment, Laurel-Rain! I completely agree – we should all definitely retain that joy.


  3. how catterbox! giggle! you were out of country and still out did me on comments on J Kaye’s blog. (*_-)

  4. Hi Kath – thanks again for doing this guest review. 🙂

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