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  • Reading for pleasure

    Thu, 14 May 2009 02:16

    Literacy-based organisation the UKLA has rightly expressed concern "at the failure to emphasise reading for pleasure in the recently-published Primary Curriculum Review."

    UKLA is right. Surely, if we want to create a new generation of readers, we have to make reading a fun activity that our children really want to do.

    Via the Bookseller:

    President of UKLA, Teresa Cremin, said: "We are pleased that speaking and listening is widely profiled for learning across the curriculum and that literacy skills, knowledge and understanding will be applied extensively in each area of learning, but are disappointed that in the Literacy section [of the review], while he refers to 'word poverty', he does not immediately connect it to the possibilities in the wide world of children's literature."

    The report does mention the enjoyable role of storytelling and literature and suggests "this tradition should be strongly upheld alongside the direct teaching of reading and writing".

    But Cremin added: "This is the kind of sentence we can lean upon to promote the role of texts in school. But there is almost nothing else on children

  • As you can imagine, plenty of books (no, even more than your thinking; multiply that by ten -- ok, you're nearer!) pass through my hands. In a comparatively short amount of time, I have to decide which books that I want to feature, review, highlight etc. on our site. Inevitably, I sometimes miss books that turn out to be important or popular.

    David J.C. MacKay's Sustainable Energy -- Without the Hot Air arrived here a wee while ago and I thought, "worthy, but dull." Indeed, I think I thought something more like "worthy, but oh so dull I want to weep!" And because I thought it was so dull-looking, I didn't bother to highlight it. But I really, really should have done. This is an excellent book and one that is fast-becoming a bestseller.

    MacKay's own website is certainly worth looking at. As is Leo Hickman's Guardian article where he meets the author, and this piece in the Times where MacKay explains his thesis.

    Whatever you do, don't pass over this book like I did because it looks dull. It isn't dull, it's vitally important.

  • To self-publish or not?

    Wed, 25 Mar 2009 04:57

    An interesting article by Damien G. Walter on self-publishing:

    To date, self publishing has been a bad idea. People without the necessary skills and experience full prey to vanity publishers. Writers with some talent but who are still learning can expose their work too soon. Excellent writing can find itself swamped among the dross that is self published every year and no one bothers to go looking for it. The general wisdom on self publishing for anyone who aspires to become a professional author has been... don't.

    But over the last few years advances in printing technology, ebooks and the internet have started to change the viability of self publishing. A small number of very talented writers -- Kelly Link and John Scalzi spring to mind -- have self published at strategic moments in their career and benefited massively from doing so. The podcast and audio fiction revolution has allowed writers like J C Hutchins and Mur Lafferty to build a considerably larger following than many conventionally published authors will ever achieve, and podcasting poster boy Scott Sigler has transitioned into a conventional publishing deal. And while no major authors are yet self publishing, many are making their work available online in ebook format (more...)

  • Reading Heroes

    Wed, 11 Mar 2009 05:07

    Danuta Kean reports:

    Mick Neville had not read a book in 10 years. Now, three years after joining a workplace reading movement, he cannot get enough of books.

    Last Thursday he was welcomed at 10 Downing Street as one of a handful of Reading Heroes honoured by Gordon Brown, the British prime minister. And the scheme he is involved with is soon about to spread overseas.

    Backed by his employer and in his role as a union learning representative in a government-backed scheme at Fletchers Bakery in the northern English town of Sheffield, Mr Neville turned the company's redundant smoking room into a library and learning centre where colleagues could improve numeracy and literacy skills (more...)

  • A publisher's decalogue

    Thu, 19 Feb 2009 04:18

    A nice set of rules for publishing and publishers, a publisher's decalogue as they style it, from Alma Books Bloggerel:

    1) Publish only what you really love.

    2) Publish only what you have read yourself -- don't publish by hearsay or on the basis of a reader's report.

    3) Don't be influenced by fashion or by what other houses are publishing.

    4) If any of your authors want to leave, give them a first-class ticket.

    5) Be patient: publishing is a very long game.

    6) Don't be obsessed with sales or with reviews.

    7) Never give up on a book: its time may come when you least expect it.

    8) Authors are human beings, just like you.

    9) Don't be too friendly or too businesslike with your authors.

    10) Be honest and pay your royalties on time.

    11) Resist to hype, and always bear in mind that there are at least one hundred billion stars in our galaxy alone.

    Now, to the smart alec who says "Hang on a sec, why eleven and not ten?" I answer: "Well, I got your attention, right?"

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