Find your own canon: Alan Gibbons | punjab$htcity | Hindustan Times
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Find your own canon: Alan Gibbons

“The biggest problem is that we wish to create clones; we expect every child to have those 10 specific books on their shelves in order to consider them as voracious readers. Why not let them build their own canon,” said Alan Gibbons, children’s books writer, novelist and education consultant from UK.

punjab Updated: Oct 06, 2016 16:51 IST
Aneesha Bedi
Alan Gibbons
Gibbons emphasised on the need to focus on the element of one’s own choice for pedagogy of reading.(HT Photo)

“The biggest problem is that we wish to create clones; we expect every child to have those 10 specific books on their shelves in order to consider them as voracious readers. Why not let them build their own canon,” said Alan Gibbons, children’s books writer, novelist and education consultant from UK.

Gibbons emphasised on the need to focus on the element of one’s own choice for pedagogy of reading.

The 63-year-old author is in Chandigarh as part of his tour to India, to conduct workshop for teachers from Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh on forms of reading and writing.

For someone who has been writing children’s books for 23 years now, he strongly feels that youngsters don’t read as less as the world believes them to.

However, he says it is important to let them read something that interests them from a young age rather than forcing them to read certain ‘intellectual things,’

“We should not undermine any form of literature. We should be there to guide our children and not push them to read something because we think it is better literature. As by doing so, we stop them from using their own minds,” said Gibbons.

He advocates that children who read for pleasure turn out to be better performers than those who are made to read.

Impressed by the Indian youth’s interest in classical literature, he said, “Kids are very sharp here and ask in depth and intelligent questions.”

“It is heartening to see kids discuss classical literature here which isn’t so much the case in UK,” he said.

Having taught for 16 years, he feels that his writing and teaching goes hand-in-hand. Hence, he has been holding workshops across countries on creative writing, reading and descriptive writing with students and teachers.

He said, “I try and go beyond simple grammar techniques to help students recognise their own style of writing. I might teach in certain way, but I give the freedom to let them to realise that this might not be their style. Saying ‘I marched into the room’ changes the meaning when one says ‘I crept into the room’.”

The author takes pride in sharing how he hadn’t visited even a single country as a child and how his writing has taken him to 63 countries so far.

About the author

1) Gibbons thinks writing for teenager is more sophisticated and challenging as it entails talking of conflicts and complexities.

2) The author co-writes with his twin daughters and son.

3) Gibbons writes on issues that reflect a sense of awakening in children.

4) His books might be for 16-year-olds but 13-year-olds also read them.

5) His next novel is based on youngsters who witness a murder, titled, ‘They Saw Too Much,’ and ‘The Dirty Trap’ (sequel to The Trap).

6) He writes as a woman sometimes, which he calls challenging as his instincts are that of a male.