By Cedric Cullingford
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Extra resources for Children's literature and its effects: the formative years
Just as home circumstances affect the ability to learn to read, so it affects the pleasures of reading. The kind of emotional engagement that a book demands is not one of deep psychological need. The book might offer alternatives to the real world of traumas and difficulties, but they are alternatives to the world that all children share, rather than individual pathologies. The level of engagement with the text of a popular book needs to be such that all readers derive a similar pleasure, whatever their own characteristics and circumstances.
They are there not merely as experts, not only as controllers of discipline but as examples. What is interesting about boys' books generally is how distant the teachers actually remain, how they are on the outer periphery of a circle of friendships and enmities. The teachers themselves might not hold a central place in the plots of the books, but schools are nevertheless seen as extremely autocratic places. 14 But in these books power is embodied in the prefects as well as in the teachers. They are also the ones who set an example, who create the right tone.
Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 1991, analysing Carrie and the idea of menstruation. 13 Vico, G. The New Science. London: Cornell University Press, 1968. 14 Richards, I. A. Practical Criticism. London: Routledge, 1924. 15 Bardies, R. S/Z. London: Cape, 1975. Levi-Strauss, C. Structural Anthropology. London: Allen Lane, 1968. 16 Holland, N. The Dynamics of Literary Response. 117. 17 Holland, N. Op. cit. 18 Lesser, S. Fiction and the Unconscious. New York: Vintage Books, 1962. 19 Iser, W. The Act of Reading: A theory of aesthetic response.