As a parent, I have a theory about kids and their natural resistance to reading a good book. If you can work them round to realising that books are a great way to escape parents and chores, then you're onto a winner.
Once they've grasped that no adult can criticise Jilly or Julian reading the latest Harry Potter, or complain that the dishes still haven't been washed when Karen and Darren are on the second book of The Lord Of The Rings, then they've found the great escape. And, here in England, more and more of the little darlings are doing just that. Because children’s Book Clubs over here are thriving. These are groups of kids who meet to discuss a book that they've all read that week.
The idea kicked off with seventy clubs and a thousand children involved. Now, four years later, there 20,000 children meeting every seven days. In small groups, in churches, in libraries, in village halls across the country. Now there's even going to be a children’s version of the famous Foyles Literary Luncheon. These adult events have been taking place regularly at some swish hotel or other since the 1930s, and now London’s top bookshop, Foyles, has announced the first one for kids. And there are so many of them going to the lunch that it's having to be held at London Zoo. These Children’s Book Clubs are growing and growing fast... and I suppose we should be grateful. It's great to have literate kids, and kids that can enjoy the greatest literature.
But where's it going to end? Twenty thousand today. Twenty thousand children who've found a way of leaving their parents to their fate. Twenty thousand children who've made the great escape, from the daily grind of duties at home, into good books. But what if this spreads and our entire juvenile population become members of these clubs? No dishes done.... no back yard swept out... no papers delivered... no burgers served. We adults will have to learn to do these things for ourselves all over again. And there'll be no time for us to settle down with a good book while the kids do all the work.