The Rights of the Reader by Daniel Pennac

Pennac is a very well-respected and popular French author. This book, which I read translated into English but which retains its French flair, focuses on the journey one takes from being an avid reader of picture books through being a student who reads only because it is required but will otherwise avoid it at all costs, to the adult who may or may not have returned to reading...and what parents and teachers can do about it. I’m not sure how to summarize, or even chat about it more without just quoting bits of it. Not that this is a bad thing. It’s a quick read, but neither my library nor my local megabook emporium had a copy on hand, so I picked it up off of Amazon and I like that it has a place on my shelf.

I did hijack a quote and have put it on my facebook profile...particularly because it appeals to me not just as a former interior designer (the skill and desire are there, I just haven’t practiced outside of my home since we moved) and an aspiring novelist (desire and practice...but maybe not skill? That remains to be seen.)

“We human beings build houses because we’re alive, but we write books because we’re mortal.” (this is where I ended my quote. His next sentence reads: “We live in groups because we’re sociable but we read because we know we’re alone.” Also applicable to my life, but not nearly as inspiring, no?)

I don’t normally pull from the back of the book, but his Rights of the Reader are printed right there for all the world. So I will reprint them here:

1) The right not to read.
2) The right to skip.
3) The right not to finish a book.
4) The right to read it again.
5) The right not to read anything.
6) The right to mistake a book for real life.
7) The right to read anywhere.
8) The right to dip in.
9) The right to read out loud.
10) The right to be quiet.

And there you have it. Read the whole book, though. Teachers, parents, people who interact with hesitant readers...this is good for all of them. And it’s illustrated by Quentin Blake, which is a bonus in my eyes.

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