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English teacher interested in language and culture, and also in fiction using magic, myth, folklore and the supernatural. Now teaching part-time in a Leicester Upper School (ages 14-19) and also writing for children, teens and teachers.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Magical Monday: In Defence of Fantasy Novels

It was suggested to me recently that, as a teacher, I shouldn't be reviewing (or presumably by extension reading) fantasy novels, since kids have 'real problems' to contend with and should read books that help them to face these problems. By this logic, only so-called gritty realism is appropriate for teachers to recommend. There are two things (for now) that I would like to point out in response to this view.

1: Reading does not have to have any purpose beyond entertainment. 

As it happens, I believe that reading for pleasure often tends to have additional 'improving' benefits, but there is no reason why anyone can't pick a book up simply for fun.

2: Fantasy is just as able to address 'real problems' as realism. 

Epic fantasy often deals with big themes like truth, honour, good and evil; how can that not be beneficial for teens (or anyone else) to be exposed to? And it has to be said that lessons are often learnt most effectively at a metaphorical distance.

This is also the same kind of snobbery that considers literary fiction better than genre, often unreasonably. I'm not going to go on at length here, because I'm in danger of getting very grumpy.

Am I right in assuming that you'd agree with me?

1 comment:

  1. AHH! What a horrible thought, that fantasy shouldn't be read or reviewed because of it's lack of real problems. That should make anyone grumpy. Reading should be enjoyable and fun, and certainly not all hit-you-over-the-head-with-all-the-issues type books (having said that, I enjoy those as well fantasy and most everything else!). What about those kids going through 'real problems' who'd like the escape into a safe place?!


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