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The poet laureate's sense of child's play

The Royal Society of Literature in the U.K. asked several prominent writers to recommend essential books for schoolchildren to read. Predictably, most of the attention has converged on the list that Andrew Motion submitted: the country’s poet laureate apparently seriously expects boys and girls to kick back over Joyce’s Ulysses, James’s Portrait of a Lady, and Eliot’s “The Waste Land,” among others.

Even under the most liberal definition of “schoolchildren” possible, this seems insanely ambitious. Perhaps it springs from a belief that children are not to be coddled — after all, if stately, plump Buck Milligan doesn’t catch their interest, there’s always a rewarding job in the mines a-waiting. Or perhaps, as his comments on the Guardian site suggest, Motion confuses realistic expectations about what “schoolchildren” would be able to understand and appreciate with “elitism.”

Anyway, kids’ writers Philip Pullman and J.K. Rowling also contributed more reasonable lists, which are also included in the Guardian piece.

Related links:
Click here for the Guardian story