Children’s Laureate Comments on J.K. Rowling

105

May 18, 2008

Posted by SueTLC
Uncategorized

UK Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen has made some comments regarding Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling while on tour in Scotland to help promote literacy among students. The Times reports that author Michael Rosen said Harry Potter “deserved credit for encouraging a generation of children to read,[but] he feared their success might prevent youngsters from discovering other authors.” The paper quotes Mr. Rosen as saying: “They don’t grab me personally’ he said. “I am distant from them whereas I read some kids’ books and I get quite drawn in emotionally to them. Whereas authors like Enid Blyton are hand-holding narrators who lead children into safe environments, JK Rowling is more of an adult writer in that she leaves you hanging in the air at the end of chapters with no idea what’s going to happen next.

“Figures appear and you don’t know whether they are a goodie or a baddie. You would think, traditionally, ˜That’s for an older reader,’ because young children more often than not can’t cope with that. My seven-year-old daughter watches the films but they tend to spell it out a bit more. I haven’t read the books to her, you don’t want to bore your kids.”

Others disagreed, including the chairman of the panel of judges that chose Rosen as children’s laureate. Shami Chakrabarti said “”I agree that children shouldn’t end their reading with JK Rowling, but the proof of the pudding is that so many have begun with her work’ she said.

“The stories are laced with contemporary themes that have resonated with readers of all ages in the last decade. Racism, the challenges of diversity and the dilemmas of the war on terror are all to be found lurking within the magical world of Harry Potter.”

UPDATE: A blogger for the Guardian newspaper has contacted Mr. Rosen, who feels this matter has been blown out of proportion, and states that “I’ve been passionately defending Harry Potter against the literati for the past seven years. Mr. Rosen is cited as saying again that his seven year old child finds the books difficult, noting “Personally, as an adult, I don’t read the Harry Potter books,” he said. “I’ve read two-and-a-half of the books and no more. But there’s nothing unusual or controversial about that. My child who is seven finds them difficult, but you’d expect that to be the case.”





96 Responses to Children’s Laureate Comments on J.K. Rowling

Avatar Image says:

I don’t think you can generalize by saying that young readers won’t discover other books. Most of the time HP has led readers to love reading and discover other books.

Avatar Image says:

I am annoyed whenever someone claims that Harry Potter doesn’t encourage reading. I started reading the books in the fifth grade (and am now graduating from high school this year). I wasn’t an avid reader until I discovered Harry Potter, and after then I exposed myself to an enormous quantity of literature with eagerness.

The books lead children into reading. It introduces them to the joys it offers. It helps them appreciate the power of the written word and the ways in which it cannot be matched by television, video games, and the internet. Harry Potter has indeed helped a generation rediscover reading. It doesn’t matter how children learn to love opening a book. All that matters is that they do so despite all the distractions out there.

Avatar Image says:

“My seven-year-old daughter watches the films but they tend to spell it out a bit more. I haven’t read the books to her, you don’t want to bore your kids.”

Totally disagree. There are loads of plot-holes in the films because they cut too much stuff out, and also they tell a slightly different story than the books. Maybe Rosen should read the books to his daughter or let her read them herself and then she can decide if she wants to continue reading them. Somehow I think she would – it is so hard to put those books down.

Maybe he should take more notice of Chakrabarti – she’s got it spot-on!

Avatar Image says:

I discovered Harry Potter in 1998 : I was 10 and had never picked a book for myself. Now I’m doing a Master’s Degree in English and want to teach English. All because of Harry. It’s a fact that it encouraged children to read, I would never have done what I’m doing if if wasn’t for Jo.

Avatar Image says:

I completely disagree with Mr. Rosen’s statement. I volunteer with girls aged 11 to 15 and because of the HP series was able to engage in lively discussions with the girls that have read the books. JKR definately got these girls reading HP at a very young age and gave me the gift of having some common ground with them to engage in conversation. Since then some of the girls, our adult leaders and I have passed around my set of Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass series, Stephanie Meyer’s The Twilight series this school year alone. I am now reading The Host and will then pass on through the group as well. More than one parent has come and thanked me for getting their “non-reading” daughter excited about reading. It wasn’t me – it was Harry Potter.

Avatar Image says:

I should think a seven-year-old could cope with Philosopher’s Stone. Mr Rosen, give your daughter a chance. (And don’t give her old Enid Blyton to read, there have got to be more PC authors around nowadays who are just as good) Chakrabarti’s comments make so much more sense! The HP books deal with contemporary issues and are thought-provoking and still easy to read.

On the other hand I guess I shouldn’t blame Mr Rosen – if the books just didn’t grab him, they just didn’t shrug of course he’s not going to praise them much. (it’s not like HP is not being read enough, hehe)

Avatar Image says:

EVERYONE, LOOK BENEATH the article and find this in the comments: “I fear I’ve been misrepresented here. I meant a) that the novels aren’t my personal choice of reading. That’s me as an adult. b) I fully understand how and why the books are fascinating for kids. I support that interest passionately. c) Enid Blyton is an easier read for younger kids.

Michael Rosen, London, UK”

If this is indeed the very same Rosen and not a fake one who made that comment underneath, then we may presume that he doesn’t think that kids would find the books boring. This comment looks authentic to me, but I suppose you never really know. Still, why would someone pretend to be him and say that he felt misrepresented? His biggest fan would perhaps want to defend him, but his biggest fan wouldn’t pretend to be him… In fact, why pretend to be him if what you write only gives him credit? (At least I think it gives him credit, plus it’s kinda hard to contradict someone who’s defending the succes of the HP-series…) Why not take the credit yourself? Nah, I say he posted that comment. So judging by this he felt misrepresented.

Avatar Image says:

Ah, on the Times site, Mr Rosen has commented himself, apparently?

“I fear I’ve been misrepresented here. I meant a) that the novels aren’t my personal choice of reading. That’s me as an adult. b) I fully understand how and why the books are fascinating for kids. I support that interest passionately. c) Enid Blyton is an easier read for younger kids.

Michael Rosen, London, UK”

Poor guy doesn’t need to be flamed by a horde of irate Potterheads (not that he has been so far).

Avatar Image says:

Ah, Eriskay you beat me to it. ;)

Avatar Image says:

@Eriskay

Perhaps this article is another example of comments being taken out of context. There’s a lot of that going around these days. And shame on me for not reading the actual article with following comments before posting. My feelings haven’t changed however without being able to read a transcript of his commentary who knows what he truly said. My goodness it’s hard to know what to believe anymore.

Avatar Image says:

I love Michael Rosen and Enid Blyton and Jo Rowling (of course) and I’m glad to see the comments were out of context :)

Avatar Image says:

LOL! This man is the Children’s Laureate in the UK ?????LOL!,I am very surprised .He is SO full of himself and has a rediculous attitude.He passes judgement over books he hasn’t even read how absurd.And thinks they would ‘bore’his daughter,LOL! He makes me think of the people who critizised Mozart ….. and other masters of music,art and the written word…... when people like him can’t write works that are so loved the world over… that person they are referring to they make up things to find wrong with that person’s work…....................I get SO sick of SOUR GRAPES . Plus….JKR has helped more than ANY recent author to expand reading into other auther’s work and if this man thinks otherwise he just is not in tune with the world he lives in….LOL! sorry I just have to laugh ,the absurity of it is mindboggeling

Avatar Image says:

MuggleQueen: You’re completely right about everything, everything you said was spot-on! “It is so hard to put those books down”, Spot-on, I say!

“You don’t want to bore your Kids.”? That quote makes me angry, that’s all I’ll say…

& Weird One: I agree with you too: I wasn’t a big reader at all when I was little. I’m 14 now & only started reading ‘Harry Potter when I was 13…So it’s only been about a year since I picked up ‘Sorcerer’s Stone’, & since then I can’t get enough of reading! I love it! I loved ‘Harry Potter’ so much that I’m reading it again with my mom (She loves it too) But when I’m done for the second time, I’ll probably start reading the Twilight series & The Chronicles Of Narnia series. So, really, ‘Harry Potter’ helped me open-up my mind & to turn of the TV.

Avatar Image says:

Sorry, I think he may have just backtracted when he realised how angry his words would make people ….I think he said exactly ! what he ment and mant what he said

Avatar Image says:

Its such a shame to see baseless comments like this from writers, it sounds bitter and envious. Kids should make up their own minds if they like a book. I think its great hp has important themes like death and prejudice, most books for adults deal with shallow things like shopping and stealing boyfriends.

Avatar Image says:

Being as he is supposed to be promoting reading …..I still find his words offensive. Some people will read his words and believe other adults shouldn’t like the HP books either just because he does not find them interesting….I’m glad JKR isn’t a handholding narater,it makes her work for more fasinating for everyone who reads it…Children are SO underestimated …..I love that JKR doesn’t

Avatar Image says:

“you don’t want to bore your kids” !!!!!!!!!! You should read them to your kid, or at least read them yourself, sir, because the books captured me when I was 6. I’m 13 now and still not bored! Go read them to your 7-year-old!

Avatar Image says:

Ethan: You were 6 when you first read ‘Sorcerer’s Stone’?! Wow…That’s really young!

Avatar Image says:

Yah, my aunt got me a copy and my mom used it to help me learn to read a bit more. I really only read it myself at about age 8 but I read maybe a paragraph ,with some help with the advanced words(or at least what was advanced for a kindergartner), every day for a while. I think when I read then it took me 10 minutes to read a paragraph, but these books started me reading. At age 8 or 9 I read The Lord of the Rings books and now I’m an avid reader.

Avatar Image says:

Yeah, I had a really hard time learning how to read when I was young (I was dyslexic) So, these book started me reading too. I have two older brothers & they love ‘The Lord Of The Rings’ series…I haven’t read them yet, though…From your point of view, Ethan, should I start ‘Lord Of The Rings’?

Also, I wanted to ask you: Do you live in America?

Avatar Image says:

I think Mr. Rosen’s comments are perfectly valid, especially for the youngest of readers. There are many themes that I think would be difficult for a 7 or 8 year old to understand, and there are some quite dark moments as well (especially in the later books). I’m not saying that children need to be censored in what they read, but it is very possible that they will not enjoy the books as much because of these reasons. There are plenty of books out there to captivate readers. HP is not the only series that young children will enjoy – it just happens to have the most press and hype. That being said, I am, of course, a huge fan and believe that everyone should read these books at some point. “Some point” just doesn’t have to be as soon as you learn to read.

Avatar Image says:

You should read them Ava. They are a bit difficult to understand, but they have a great plot. And yah, I do live in America, but since in school they freak everyone out about talking to people on the internet, I can’t say anything else about where I live. Oh man, the school board corrupted me!

Avatar Image says:

It’s quite sad how some people are being very derogatory about an author they seem to know very little about. He is a highly respected children’s writer in the genre of poetry and rhyme rather than fantasy fiction. He works incredibly hard to promote reading and literacy and he does not deserve some of the comments made here. A journalist has chosen to highlight one aspect of a conversation he had with him, more than likely out of context as we know the media are prone to do. He is entitled not to like Harry Potter and to say that the books do not appeal to him as his preferred reading matter. If his daughter prefers something different or he feels they are not appropriate for her at this stage then what right does a group of Harry Potter fans have to suggest otherwise. He was not rude or derogatory, he just expressed an opinion when asked a question by a journalist.

I can’t imagine for one minute that JKR is naive enough to think that everyone will love her work. I have enjoyed her books with one of my sons from start to finish, the other son tired of them and moved onto something else more to his liking. People are different, they like different things, we should try to see past the journalistic hype and be more tolerant of other peoples views and opinions instead of giving a verbal bashing to anyone who dares not to like Harry Potter.

Avatar Image says:

I totally agree with Karen’s comments above…...you stated it perfectly. I don’t think his comments were intended to be negative, I just think he was being very honest. Different books appeal to different people, it’s not a personal attack on Harry Potter or JK Rowling. The world is made up of a diverse group of folks, we should be thankful for that and appreciate our differences!

Avatar Image says:

“I can’t imagine for one minute that JKR is naive enough to think that everyone will love her work.” Posted by Karen on May 18, 2008 @ 05:18 PM

Agreed, Karen. Reminds me of when Dumbledore advises Hagrid not to wait for universal popularity. Since they’re JKR’s words, I’m guessing she’s definitely not expecting it for herself. Not everyone is going to like the same sorts of books. My husband has listened to the audiobook versions and seen the movies with me and, while he enjoyed them, he definitely doesn’t find them as wonderful as I do. He prefers books by RA Salvatore.

I admittedly don’t know anything about Mr. Rosen (shamefully, if he’s as talented and popular as he is said to be here), but I do disagree that these books aren’t suitable for younger children. To be honest, years ago I would have agreed with him slightly, because I assumed that there were certain jokes and ideas younger people might not appreciate. However, I decided to read the first book to my two neices (who were 6 and 9) just because I wanted to share something I loved so much with them. And they ADORED the books! I honestly hadn’t even expected them to be able to pay attention long enough to get into them, but they were cracking up at JKR’s jokes particularly the ones with Lockhart, the Weasley twins and Peeves, and were furious with Draco Malfoy and Snape. I remember being floored at how enthralled they were, though I obviously shouldn’t have been since I felt the same way. I guess I was just impressed with the depth in which they became involved. They really cared about the characters and the story. And their love of books didn’t end there, but greatly grew.

Avatar Image says:

I was 7, almost 8 when I started reading HP.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve gotten less patient with most books (many have to grab me from the start, and few do). But I do read quite a lot more than you’re average Jane. And if my mom hadn’t made me sit through her reading the first HP book to me (I was convinced I wouldn’t like it because my mom picked it out and it was a BOOK!), I wouldn’t have asked her if I could read the next chapter. It really got me into writing and reading, but also acting as well. I’ve read the series 3-4 times to both of my parents.

I read and developed character voices for all of the characters over 8 years and now people say (even British friends of mine!) that my British accent is flawless. This has helped me immensely in theatre acting, and now I am hoping to go into speech therapy and minor in voice acting (reading audiobooks and doing cartoon characters, etc.). Not only that but I’ve recently made it to nationals for forensics because of that British accent! So thank yoouuu Harry Potter!! :)

Avatar Image says:

Ha ha! I understand, Ethan. I won’t say where in America I live either…Though, I’m not being “Corrupted” by the school board, I’m lucky enough to be Home Schooled! Maybe I’ll read those next, after I finish ‘Harry Potter’ again… Thanks you, Ethan. I’ll take your word in to count.

Avatar Image says:

“I haven’t read the books to her, you don’t want to bore your kids.”

..And I’ve now had my fill of ignorance for the day.

Avatar Image says:

Also: “Figures appear and you don’t know whether they are a goodie or a baddie. You would think, traditionally, ‘That’s for an older reader,’ because young children more often than not can’t cope with that.”

Children are sooo underestimated. I find it rather insulting. But I suppose everyone has their own tastes, I’ve certainly learned that.

Avatar Image says:

Children can be so underestimated. The younger posters here are testimony to that. Any kid that can wade through Lord of the Rings has my utmost admiration. I tried and just couldn’t get through it. I have bought them and have promised myself that I will give them another go. My son has read these countless times, started quite young, apparently didn’t inherit the skill from me.

Avatar Image says:

It’s fine for him to dislike them, but the comments about kids being “bored” (because kids must be so bored by these books considering that they’re a world wide phenom- please, the sales figures tell you kids aren’t “bored”) and how they should be handheld through their books are completely ignorant and unfortunate. The books present challenging issues and that’s bad how? Oh right, kids should only read books that are “safe.” I have a hard time grasping the idea that someone so for literacy would basically give issue with the books being too challenging. Isn’t that a good thing?

Avatar Image says:

Children come in all ages, from infants to college students. You can’t treat them as one group. Clearly, as a parent you wouldn’t want to read about the gruesome deeds of Voldemort to your three-year-old. On the other hand, who can say that a 11 yo can’t understand good and evil? Is the witch in Snowhite too evil for the youngest kids? Maybe, and maybe not. I think people in all ages need to understand things to relate to them. Young kids can understand things too, if it’s explained properly to them.

I think JKR’s intended audience is from 10-18. We all know that many more people outside that age range also reads and enjoys the Harry Potter books. Myself, I’m much much older than 18. But I’ve read all 7 HP books – more than once. They give me something as an adult too. I recognise good writing when I see it. I love a good story and need to escape reality with fantasy. Why should children be different? Are they different? I don’t think so. As long as they can understand what’s written, they will experience the same things as adults do.

Please, Mr. know-it-all Rosen: stop underestimating children.

Avatar Image says:

Right, Ava, tell me how that series goes.

Avatar Image says:

HOw can you even start to say that Harry Potter would bore kids?

Avatar Image says:

Taken out of context or not, the guy doesn’t deserve to be Children’s Laureate if he’s making remarks like that.

I do think that HP isn’t just for children as many people think- the adult covers are enough proof for that- but to say it would bore children… eh!?

Avatar Image says:

I didn’t get into Harry Potter until I was 18 but I hadn’t heard of it until the first movie came out, and I only went to see it because I was sure it would be stupid since it was so popular. I was so Happy to know I was wrong. My Mother and husband joke thats the only time I ever admitted being wrong. I’ve read every book over and over and love them. Of course I am one of those people that simply loved reading from a young age, but I saw many of my friends who hated Books start reading simply because of Harry Potter.

As for children needing to be handheld, I don’t agree with it but each parent much choose their own Method. I will be reading Harry Potter to my son once he’s about 5 or 6, though I’m reading it to him now, though he’ll never remember it. I simply want to give my Little Man the joys of reading, starting from even before birth. Children can handle much more then people more credit, like many say…’Out of the Mouths of Babes…”

Avatar Image says:

If JKRs books promote reading, then at least there is that. May the kids that get drawn in by her crap at least go on to read MORE and BETTER things!

I’m fostering my kid’s love for reading, and their intellectual and moral development, with real classics that have stood the test of time and that teach real moral development, as opposed to just blundering around, with one’s sole development in the form of puberty, and ending it all with asking one’s slave for a sandwich.

The sooner this hype is over with, the better! May JKR Loose her millions and the millions of needy people that truly deserve and can make use of that capital find it. Goodness knows, I am pleased to have stopped paying $ after book and the movies that followed (I wish I had the sense never to begin!)

All that said, i love the corner of fandom that isn’t afraid to critique jkr & canon to be increadibly heart-able.

Avatar Image says:

” I haven’t read the books to her, you don’t want to bore your kids.” bah! what a freak! there is nothing boring about the harry potter series, and if you dont get emotionally drawn into them, you dont have emotions!

Avatar Image says:

Ummm yeah, “lurking” being the operative word there. Those issue sure are lurking in spades, and waiting to grab the kids in a dark alley when nobody’s watching.

But yes, no matter what else it also does, HP does get the young generation to discover the joy of reading, which in and of itself should be an achievement well worth celebrating. JKR/Warner has created a brilliant formula, which shouldn’t be demonized just because it successfully anchors itself in the world of capitalism, but rather appreciated and followed by many more (hopefully more enlightened) authors to come.

Avatar Image says:

@ AA

While I can appreciate your own personal preference of books for your children to read, in all fairness the HP series is in the scheme of “classics” in it’s infancy. Since the very first printing the books have held up quite well as a children’s classic and certainly time will tell in a decade or two if that remains.

Avatar Image says:

Alright Ethan, I’ll do that.

Avatar Image says:

His kids will discover the HP books themselves inevitably and if they are like most kids, they will love them. He’s not forbidding them from reading the books after all. He sounds like a good parent to me.

Avatar Image says:

As far as underestimating kids abilities goes, that happens a lot in the Potter series. The adults are constantly surprised that the kids can do magic “beyond their age” such as patronuses and making polyjuice potion. I guess this is just another proof of how we can apply things from the Potterverse to occurences in real life.

Avatar Image says:

I was seven when I read Philosopher’s Stone! I didn’t find it the least bit boring, in fact,it was the most wonderful thing I’d ever read! Why do people underestimate children so much? They’re a lot more sharper and smarter than most adults! And that’s why HP appealed to kids, because Jo understood that fact,which most children’s authers tend to overlook. Jo treats kids as a proper intelligent audience capable of understanding certain things. Agreed maybe the fifth,sixth and seventh might be a bit hard for really small kids, but the first four books have nothing which young kids can’t grasp. No kid today thinks the world has only heroes and villains, and it’s time people like Mr. Rosen understood that! If he’s not read the books to his kids,then he’s just denying them a wonderful experience!

Avatar Image says:

I already loved reading before my Grandmother gave me the first four books when i was about 9. They did absolutely nothing to deter me from reading, completely the opposite in fact, I went on to read much harder novels like The Lord of the Rings. This guy definitely generalised much too much, just because his daughter doesn’t like reading…

Avatar Image says:

Anyway, it wouldn´t make sense to say the books are boring for children after Jo won the kids Choice award.

Anyway I found his comments quite contradicting in themselves.

Avatar Image says:

@ AA

Are you a failed author by any chance?

Avatar Image says:

I feel obligated to make a comment for all us oldies. Until one of my son introduced me to Harry Potter, I only enjoyed reading Non-Fiction! Thanks to Jo at 50years of age I’m not ashamed to say that I try to read her books again every year, but some 35 to 40 other fictional books too! Her books spurred me on to read, Lord of the Rings, The Spooks Apprentice, Tarran the Wanderer, The Dark Elf, which are all series and lots more. Thanks to Jo I have found a new pleasure! I too think people who put Jo’s books down, are just SOUR GRAPES, like Willow says!

Avatar Image says:

sigh why doesn’t anyone have anything nice to say about Jo anymore?

Avatar Image says:

I don’t think we’ll ever see the scale of histeria & excitement that the Harry Potter books had, these other authors are just jealous of their success IMO, it’s a masked attack.

As an adult, it hasn’t made me read more children’s authors but I’m sure it has children so I think this laureate is talking rubbish.

I’m just re-reading the Harry books and they are some of the best books I’ve ever read and are genius, and I read A LOT, so if the person didn’t enjoy them, there must be something seriously wrong with him IMO. Lord of the Rings on the other hand was probably THE most boring book I’ve ever read, I’ve read it 3 times and it still can’t see the appeal.

The films aren’t better but books certainly are, go Jo Rowling.

Avatar Image says:

I too think it was rather foolish for Mr Roven to say he fears youngster wont read other authors as there is no proof of that, if anything, it is the opposite. But I do like his point about how JK writes her stories without hand holding, the only thing is, he seems to make this point as a drawback whereas I see it as an extraordinary tool to have children exercise their creativity by speculating what happens next, is he/she bad or good, what’s he/she up to, whats his motive, is he gay etc. Ok strike that last bit, that was a joke ;). .

Avatar Image says:

I just think he has greatly underestimated children, as if they “couldn’t cope” with Jo’s mystery narrative

Avatar Image says:

I saaw this in the paper this morning and it sorta made me sad. I don’t really like it when people critisise another author (or Artists) work – it aways seems a bit like sour grapes. Having said that I do love Rosen’s childrens poems and books and Bear Hunt is a particular favourite with my kids but then they are 3 and 5 and nowhere near ready for Harr’s exploites yet a while!!

Avatar Image says:

I do wish Mr. Rosen had a broader understanding of a child’s potential as a reader, his being childrens’ laureate. Though he is correct that younger children may not understand certain themes in the HP series, there are many they will, and many others they will learn along the way. I understand his point that you don’t want to turn off younger readers with content they won’t understand, his point would be made more successfully citing Jane Austen, rather than J.K. Rowling. My personal experience is that my 7-year-old son can now tell you about red herrings and discuss character motivation because of the Harry Potter books. At the very least, the fact that parents can enjoy the books along with their children brings an added dimension of real enjoyment to the experience of reading for the children, encouraging a foundation of reading for life. I’m choosy about the books I suggest for my kids as well (until recently, I worked in a bookshop, generally in the childrens’ area), but I will more readily dismiss a book with mundane themes than one that may be complicated. Know your kids, and take Mr. Rosen’s regrettable advice for what it is.

Avatar Image says:

Did Mr.Rossen think that the children ,all over the world,who became obsessed with these books were bored by them?LOL! How ignorant can you get?Someone with the attitude he has toward what children CAN do and CAN understand should NOT be Children’s Laureate.It is a total contridiction of what he is supposed to be doing. And I find it so very odd anyone ,especially in his place,would make rediculious comments like those…....Why on earth would he think children would need their handsheld or be bored is ludicrus…..people like him make my blood boil! Who thought he would be good in that possession? I wonder????

Avatar Image says:

I agree with you Kiwi. that is exactly the concept I learned about in psych. Parents either want to be over protective and have little clones of themselves or they dont care enough. We as a society DO underestimate kids, we think- thats too scary for them, when actually it might not be, or they wouldnt like that, let them find out for themselves. I was 8 when I read the first book and I loved them, I hadnt liked reading before that. My 10 yr old cousin has read all seven books since Christmas up till now. He finished them in that short of time. They must not be boring. He sounds almost as bad as the stupid fundamentalists who claim HP is witchcraft, so we should ban it before we all end up in Hell! Ha yeah thats the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.

Avatar Image says:

@ coppertopchopperhopper

I gave a copy of “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” to my 3 year old granddaughter and she just loves it. When we go for a long walk behind my home we recite it. Now if she wants to go for a long walk she asks if we can go on a bear hunt.

Avatar Image says:

Well, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But I remember being forced to read some of that dudes poems when I was little and found them really boring and silly.

Avatar Image says:

I read the first four at six too, but even now I can’t get into the Lord of the Rings. Far too long-winded. I think that maybe Rosen’s comments were taken out of context, but the comment about how they will bore his daughter is totally unjustified. As I’ve just said, I read them alone at six years old and absolutely adored them- maybe his daughter is more of a poetry gal (considering her dad’s a poet.) I, however, loathe poetry and always have done. Sorry, Michael Rosen.

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okay I do not agree with Mr.Rosen and i do think his comment was his attempt to cover his own rear end. I have always been a good reader, starting withthe traditional books young children get into( DR. Seuss, Where the wild things are etc) and moving slow up fromt here, then wheni was about 8 or 9 i think i discovered a gem of a book called The Hobbit and fell in love with it and as soon asi finished it ( for what would be the first of what would be asof my last reading 75 times) I hit the card catalong at the school library to see if this Toljien fellow had written anything else and to my lasting joy i found the LOTR trilogy, these took me a good bit to get into and it wasn’t til i was 12 i finally finished them and from that my love of reading grew and grew, as for how i got into the HP series it happened quite by chance, I had seen the first 3 books in stores and heard tell of them and at that time thought they were just kids stuff and that they were not really worth my time, how wrong i was a few months later i was staying with my sister to help her out with her 4 kids and one of them had brought home SS from school and I happened to see it laying there and desided to just read the first chapter to see if the book lived up to some of the hype i had heard, and that was all she wrote (lol) SS grabbed me and did not let me go tili had finished it I have since read all 7 books many times and own the first 6 in paperback ( waiting for DH in paperback to complete my collection) In manywas i see HP and the LOTR of this generation as it has done for my sisters kids and many many other kids what LOTR did for me opened there eyes to the wonderful world of books

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As far as my memory takes me back, there has not been a single instance when JK has put down or criticized, in any way or form, another author’s work. It is therefore uncalled for, and very impolitic, for other authors to comment negatively on her work.

Whichever way you look at it, it smacks of jealousy – a vice which is so well explored in the HP books – as is racism, war, treachery, greed, hunger for power, all counterbalanced with love, friendship, altruism, defending the vulnerable, forgiveness, sacrifice and respect. A child is never too young to be introduced to good values and to become aware that there are bad ones as well.

I’ve had hours of discussion with my son about these topics and I, for one, thank JK wholeheartedly, for giving me such material to work on with him and with many students I teach. I never underestimate children’s insight into the life around them. Grown-ups really need to listen to the youngsters because they are able to view the world through far fewer prejudices than adults can.

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He offered a personal opinion and said that the Potter books didn’t work for him or give what he likes from children’s books. That’s really not a crime. I remember being quite disappointed when I read some interviews with JKR back in the day and she said she wasn’t actually that a big a fan of the fantasy genre and writers like Tolkien, but she was perfectly entitled to the view. Rosen’s poems and children’s works are an equal delight, and his children’s book ‘Sadness’ is literally one of the saddest and beautiful things ever written. He really isn’t likely to be jealous.

And for all everyone here is saying they were encouraged to read more, you also have to bear in mind there are reams of kids who also have become less ambitious in their reading, being content to stick to the easy reading/world of Harry Potter.

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I’m afraid I’ve been misquoted and misrepresented on this matter. I was trying to make two point. I personally as an adult don’t read HP books for pleasure, though I’ve read two and a half of them. In my experience first readers (five, six and seven year olds) often find them hard going. I always understood them to be ideal reading for 8 plus because they ‘get’ more of the jokes, ideas and can follow the plot better.

I’ve supported and defended the HP books many, many times on radio and TV while others around me have attacked them. I’m appalled that what I said about me as an adult readers was taken to mean that I didn’t want children to read the books or that I thought they were inappropriate. I think just the opposite. Surely it’s not beyond the intelligence of a journalist to be able to figure that there is a difference between what an adult might read for him or herself and what they think is a good read for eight, nine and ten year olds and indeed not quite such a good read for five, six and seven year olds.

I am so sorry that it has all appeared like this, I am a passionate believer in children’s reading, and enjoyment of reading and, in the modern environment, part of that is of course the Harry Potter series.

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I think some of the comments here are very defensive and unfortunately so. I’ve had the good fortune to meet with Michael Rosen (as well as 2 of the 4 previous Children’s Laureates) and can say with honesty that there are very very few people in the UK who do more for Children’s Literature. If you have ever read his work you will know that he does NOT underestimate children. He is passionate about their literary education – see his books about Shakespeare for example. He is also hugely (and deservedly) successful. Children’s Laureates are chosen extremely carefully. He has no reason for the ‘sour grapes’ people are suggesting – I find that accusation frankly ridiculous. And as the holder of PhD, and with such a busy and illustrious career he is the last person to accuse of ignorance when it comes to children and reading!

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First I heard of this fuss was on the BBC radio4 news this evening, when they talked about the story and said that Rosen had insisted on being interviewed by them to put his case. He said there that he had been interviewed about something else, but at the end the interviewer (on the phone) had asked a couple of questions about Harry Potter. (This may well be available to read on the BBC website). He felt he had been misrepresented in that he was referring to the suitability of the books for younger children. Personally, I would agree with him. Exactly the parts of the books which most appeal to me as an adult would go over the heads of very young children. Other authors have written books specifically targeted at a yonger age group, and I would agree with him about that. In the BBC interview he seemed somewhat annoyed at being misrepresented and said he was a long term admirer of the books (just not for starting out readers).

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Leaky, best to report THIS: http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/05/rosen_vs_rowling.html

A quick telephone call to the man himself reveals that it’s all “complete rubbish”. He doesn’t think they’re either boring, or unsuitable for children.

“Personally, as an adult, I don’t read the Harry Potter books,” he said. “I’ve read two-and-a-half of the books and no more. But there’s nothing unusual or controversial about that. My child who is seven finds them difficult, but you’d expect that to be the case.”

In fact, he added, “I’ve been passionately defending Harry Potter against the literati for the past seven years.” Hmm. Rosen will be appearing in the court of public opinion later on this afternoon, on Radio 4’s PM, and establish once and for all whether we’ve fallen prey to “churnalism” again.

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ok so everyone is entitled to their opinion about the books that’s fine but what shocks me is that the Children’s Laureate claims that cildren “cant handle” characters if the author doesnt make it quite clear whio’s side their on! Surely someone so deeply involved in children’s literature should be encouraging us to challenge children rather than patronise them in this way! What i love about Jo is that she believes children can handle a lot more than we often give them credit for and that shows through in her writing.

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I commend Mr. Rosen for taking the time to set the record straight. Another example of a couple of quite innocent sentences being taken out of context and misrepresenting his actual intention. J.K. Rowling apparently isn’t the only one being misquoted by the press. Completely unfair to both authors.

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I’ll second Weird One’s comment. It shows a lot of consideration on Mr. Rosen’s part, as well as emphasizing how much he cares about children’s reading.

Makes you wonder who else has been misquoted lately.

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Mr Rosen. It pains me to realise once again, a Newspaper of high “regard” has duped me and the rest of the public into believing something that isnt true. Great injustice has been done to you and I wish you could sue them (of course, doing so may ruin your life such is the way life).

Kudos for clearing up your views which have been criminally distorted by the Times. I would still heartily debate some of your views :) but to give yourself more credibility in making judgements regards to Harry Potter, I suggest you still read the rest of the series whether its your thing or not.. Especially book four where a certain character called Rita Skitter may ring a terrible resonance with you at this time ;) Read the rest of the books just for your person gain so you can either criticise them, praise them with further understanding of these great novels offer to different age groups.

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Mr Rosen, thank you for taking the time to post on Leaky. (I didn’t see your comment when I posted before). Your passion for children’s reading is obvious to all who hear or see you speak, and I wanted you to know that such ‘journalism’ is a disgrace to all your hard work for children’s literacy in the UK.

Also I can’t help but take this opportunity to say that a seminar you gave at Roehampton in 2000/1 was the reason I chose to write my Masters dissertation about Shakespeare and children. cheeky grin

Also while I’m being cheeky – you are welcome to join in our discussions on the Leaky Lounge anytime! ;)

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A follow up story has been written in today’s Times Online pitting Michael Rosen’s books against J.K. Rowling’s. The media is very trying.

All together now “Be careful what you believe in the press.”

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That is the problem with a “Wolf Pack.” They attack and go in for the kill without any individual thought process. I haven’t read a single apology for all the horrible things said about Mr. Rosen. I think eveyone who called him jealous and uneducated should now have the guts to at least say “I’m Sorry.”

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@ Paintball

Good to see you, again and once again thank you for your critique. For the record I believe a number of us have admitted to being fooled by the media. I have made a commentary on Times Online, that they have yet to show but I have no control over that, plus I have emailed Mr. Rosen with my apology.

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Maybe Ms. Rowling has created a book(s) with higher sensibilities than most children’s lit. maybe she has raised the tenor of kiddie lit. We need someone to undo the damage caused by the decades of purposeful dumbing down of our young people. Maybe they have been exposed to more than “See Dick Run!”

Good for Jo. Good for everybody. I am extremely satisfied.

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Is it me or has there been a lot of Rowling dissing lately? I mean, jeez, what’s with all the negative comments? Yeah, HP is a harder read for kids…so? Doesn’t that mean that it challenges them? And that they can read them when their old enough to understand if they want to? HP is what made me read, dude and I know that a bunch of people in my generation can testify to that.

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Thank you Mr. Rosen for posting your personal feelings and comments on Leaky!!

I too didn’t get into Harry Potter, because I thought it was more of a child’s story, but as the books progressed I realized how intricately woven morals, characters, and history were to the general plot , so much so that I think many adults can gain insight and enjoyment from the series. Additionally, I agree with you that after Book 2 it’s rather difficult for children as young as you indicated to follow along. Even my 11 year old brother has difficulty understanding some of the relationships depicted throughout the series and the he has a hard time grasping the idea of supreme evil that Voldemort is depicted of being. However he did understand a lot more about the series than I thought he would, and he even enjoys discussing some of the bigger theories the series presented. In contrast, my younger sister, who is 9, SS/PS doesn’t even capsulate her attention for longer than a chapter. Also, someone previously posted that reading SS/PS at age 6 was strange, but I had my younger sister reading adult chapter books at age 5…I was the oldest and made her play “school” after school, so I taught her how to read. I think that makes a difference, as most of her fellow kindergarteners were still trying to read Dr. Suess.

To surmise, I think that JKR wrote the novels in such a way that they actually increase with complexity in plot each subsequent novel, because it’s showing the growth of a child’s mind. Which is why those who were young and read SS/PS when it was first released and continued with the series were able to garner more personal relationships with the storyline, because it followed their development throughout the years.

However to each their own, and I don’t think this series will incapsulate everyone, but I do think they are a literary marker for our generation.

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@ Paintball

Sorry, I just had to re-post to give credit to your post, “wolf pack” awesome explanation. Of course, I know it wasn’t intentional from most of the posters, and journalists should take more care in what they are saying, but I think “wolf pack” is a great way to explain the affects of group think.

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What a tempest in a teacup. Poor Mr. Rosen having to run around setting the record straight.

One of the most fascinating accomplishments of JKR (and what sets HP apart from most other children’s book series) is that the characters in the books as well as the children reading the books mature as the story goes along.

It’s always seemed to me that age 10 or so (with exceptions for a few younger children and for all of us adult fans, too, of course) is just about the right age to start reading the books.

I know my niece (a very bright kid who’s read Narnia and lots of other books) didn’t really get caught up in HP until she was 10. She found the aspect of fantasy/magic world existing simultaneously with the more familiar real/muggle world to be confusing. But then, it just clicked in and she was off to the races!

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Actually, I think Jo would agree about not reading the HP books too young. Jo said was going to wait until her daughter was 7 before reading the first book to her, but Jessica talked her down to 6.

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I somehow don’t agree with people from any perspective saying Harry Potter is either good or bad because it’s more difficult than traditional tales of the same genre; I actually think it’s easier to swallow, which in my opinion is the main fault of the story.

The tale deals with race, terror, war, death and other themes important in both adults’ and children’s adventure tales. However, at the end of the day, it doesn’t say things that very young kids SHOULD hear, but it rather sends messages that kids WANT to hear. Take race: like it or not, the instinct of very, very young children (around age 2) is to be racist. They boggle and excite at everything they see that looks new and unfamiliar; unnatural. It is an important aspect of basic socialization that they are taught that people with other skin colors, types of hair, speech styles, etc. exist, and that they are all equally human and worthy of respect as they themselves are. In the Harry Potter world, Harry encounters obvious racism when he goes to Hogwarts, and the readers experience it through his eyes: he and one of his best friends, who both look and act EXACTLY the same as everybody else, are discriminated against by some bad guys because they are half-blood and muggle-born, respectively. Which is a nice thing to experience, if that sends the message that some people see difference where none truly exists. Only, Harry and his allies then go on to solve this bigotry, and on their way, we discover that some people (even though they look and act completely humane) are just not fully human and therefore look slightly different and are incompetent, dumb and/or dangerously forgetful; that Indian girls and Chinese girls are fine to date but will “naturally” only function as stepping stones for your average Caucasian hero to arrive at his full romantic maturity; that there is a species of creatures in this society looking and talking like a kind of people yet who don’t have basic human rights BY NATURE, who inherently all harbor a deep-seated wish to serve their slave masters (or someone else of the slave-master race). These things we read from the story, actually, are NOT hard things for the kids to understand. They are actually things they will be tempted to believe, if nobody instructs them otherwise. They are COMFORTING ideas that appeal to them instinctively, yet, like comforting snacks, consist of ingredients that are less than nutritious for a healthy human development.

I feel the same goes for terrorism, and the justice of war, and death, in one way or another—although in the case of death, the message is “Some suicides are really really good, and entirely justified,” which many of the younger children will surely find counter-intuitive. Yet for some, older and less healthy children, it will also be comfort food that supports their own feeling, rather than coaches them against their inner desire toward a more adult view checked by ethical standards.

Hopefully, though, the controversial messagery buried throughout the Harry Potter series will be a starting point for children and their parents, guardians, teachers etc. to discuss these issues of importance as well as the importance of not taking everything said on printed pages as definitive truths. “All was well” can be an excellent ending phrase that prompts all its readers, young and old, to stop and consider exactly what ways we see that all is not, actually, well. If it does, the faults that I personally see with the series will not be faults at all. After all, the messagery of a story is only as influencial to the young readers as the adults around them make it: you can read a story with a gay male headmaster of a boarding school to your kids to explicitly teach them why that should be, in reality, a bad idea, if that’s the ultimate message you want to teach them. You can also use the exact same material to talk to them about how the sentence “he loved him” can get erased as if it is a dirty concept, and help them realize the injustice of it. I just feel that, left unchecked, the Harry Potter series can be such an extremely easy thing to read for younger children with a less socialized attitude toward other races, other ethnicities, other sexualities, the other side of the war, and so on. Younger children are innocent, to be sure. But that innocence is not ALWAYS (although it can be sometimes) in line with modern social justice. Unfortunately, Rowling’s messages as a children’s author seems to be as innocent as the children they speak to. Which I suspect is part of why the series has become such a huge international success; it speaks to something universal and fundamental in all of us—just not always the universally fundamental goodness of human nature, although it does resonates with that too, on some occasions.

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The more Mr. Rosen defends his words and thoughts on the HP books,as missunderstood ,the more I believe his words were NOT. The Harry Potter books are read ,with joy ,by the very young ,old , and all ages in between.Some find the story on a purly fun light level and some see all the intelligence Jo used to make these such incredible storieson SO many levels.The fact Mr. Rosen’s child cannot understand them and finds them boring the more I think of his influense upon his child and the apple does not fall far from the tree. There are probubly some children too young to graps the the story in it’s intirity and could well find them boring ,as well as some adults but to say all very young would is ludicrous and insulting to the mentality of all young children,as well as a lot of adults.He is still insulting Jo’s work not matter how he keeps colouring his words and rearangeing them.

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The fact Jo can get so many people heated and discusing ’’books’’ in general is a great testiment to her ability as both a terrific writer and an excellent teacher.

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And I ment ’’heated ’’in defence of her work.

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I read Philosopher’s Stone when I was six, and I understood it fine! I read it alone, it took me a couple of weeks but I got through it. I read CoS in a week and a half, PoA in a week, GoF in four days, OotP in two days, HBP in four hours and DH within two hours. Without Harry I wouldn’t be getting my perfect grades in English and looking at an A* in two years when I get my GCSE results. It’s because of Harry Potter that I really developed my love of reading (I’d always loved it because my parents taught me to read when I was young).

I bet Rosen would be so angry if JK was the next children’s laureate….:)

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@ Madi

DH in two hours WOW & WOW. If memory serves me (and it rarely does) the average time was 7 to 9 hours. Congratulations.

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One last post on this article. It is good that children are reading instead of just watching movies and playing video games. It is bad that all these children want to read is Harry Potter. Back when I was a regular on the forums, I remember post from these children bragging about their 5th or even 10th read of the books and in the same post complaining about having to read a classic assigned to them by their teacher. Instead of talking up the classic to this child, I would then read post by the adults making fun of the classic and talking about how much better Harry Potter was over this classic.

I think everyone in the educational field including Mr. Rosen are concerned about “teaching down.” We should never substitute fantasy like Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings or Narina for “To kill a Mocking Bird”, “Catcher in the Rye”, “Emma”, and all the other great classics that deal with reality. IMHO

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@Madi

Sorry for the double post but I forgot to ask Madi which of the classics was his/her favorite book and how he/she thought it compared to the fantasy genre.

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And then there are those that do go on to read and love ,the classics because of reading Harry Potter,no matter what some adults opinions are. Bravo! Jo.

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My daughter and I alternated reading pages from Year One all the way through Deathly Hallows. It took her almost the whole school year and I will treasure the times we spent together with Harry. She had no problem understanding the plot and I was there to help with any difficult parts. She is nine years old and loved every minute of it. Her reading level went up four grade levels in the process. She was NEVER bored. Perhaps Mr. Rosen finds it easier to put on a movie than spend the time reading with his daughter.

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@Emily,I think you hit the nail right on the head.

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Emily and Willow, why get personal and nasty about it? You don’t me and you don’t my daughter. My daughter reads avidly, both my wife and I read to her at any time of day. Everything I write, I read to her, to get her opinion and so on and so on. I repeat, I never said that I thought the Harry Potter books were boring. I simply said that I didn’t want to read something that I feared would make her bored. That’s not because HP is boring but because she’s very young. Perhaps all the examples given above are of very mature, very literate children. Perhaps my daughter likes to take things slowly and read short passages and short chapters, where the plot is not too complicated. That is all I meant, nothing more nothing less.

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That should read ‘you don’t know me’ ,of course. I’m in a bit of a hurry!

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Twice now Michael Rosen has taken the time to try to clarify his intention regarding his statement about Harry Potter books. He was misunderstood or misquoted in the Times Online piece and has been quite clear that although his child at this time has not been introduced to the books he is a supporter of the Harry Potter series. Commenting on his personal relationship with his child is uncalled for. Mr. Rosen is a respected children’s author and no doubt a fair judge of what is appropriate for his daughter.

There are other books in the world not just the ones written by JKR so please relax and not take every little thing as a huge criticism of the Harry Potter books.

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Well I love Harry Potter. But I’m not going to stop reading other books. Enid Blyton wrote many classics, and so did authors such as Phillip Pullman and C. S. Lewis. I agree Harry Potter books have replaced them, and children are more likely to read them than Enid Blyton books. But Enid Blyton’s books are old, and definately not as interesting and enticing as Harry Potter. The truth is, the children that read Harry Potter, probably weren’t reading before the books came out. Harry Potter helped many children begin to read, and for that, we should all be forever grateful to JK Rowling. I am sure she is not so full of herself to believe that everyone loves Harry Potter, but many people do. However, I kind of agree, some children would benefit with starting on slower, easier books. That doesn’t mean they can’t read Harry Potter, I read Harry Potter at 7, and I adored it! I understood every word, and boring would be the last word I would use, however for some of the longer books, you need to concerntrate for longer, and some children may find this difficult.

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Hi

I want to send an email Mrs. JK, I help somebody me? Please, to answer for the email kdsantos@terra.com.br

Thank you Kleber

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