This is a small section from an interview J.B. Cheany (World Magazine, etc.) conducted with Alan Jacobs (The Narnian, etc.) over at what certainly appears to be a delightful website called Redeemed Reader. (See full interview here.) I thought these answers very insightful.
“Insight,” by the way, is one of the words my kids brought me to, asking me to explain it to them, from their Bible reading today. Another was “perverseness,” which was awesome to explain. -Sam
How would you suggest parents promote reading to their children? For instance, should they insist on a certain standard (whether low or high) or let the kids read pretty much what they want?
I think reading is one sphere of experience where variety is supremely the spice of life. People in general — and therefore kids in particular — ought to be free to read a wide variety of things. I tend to think it’s best for kids to get the habit of reading by exploring books that they enjoy — but then at some point it’s good for the parents to say, “If you liked that you might also this. Give is a try. It might be a challenge, but I bet you’re up for it.”
What’s your definition of “trash”? Or do you have one?
I don’t, really. I think C. S. Lewis was right in his Experiment in Criticism to place a lot more emphasis on what the reader brings to the book than on the book in itself. Even a great book can be read badly. I believe if you think about the kind of reader you want to be, the place you want reading to have in your life, then the question of what you read will largely settle itself and then you can think about how you read.
Featured image cut from Pauline Baynes’ original Narnia illustrations.