Michael Rosen and Mark Haddon on Reading


Michael Rosen and Mark Haddon discussed the transformative qualities of great books; how reading them can change our outlook on life.

Michael Rosen did a reading, the the manner of his father, demonstrating the magic of "Great Expectations."  Apparently, Rosen first heard Great Expectations when his father read it aloud to the family on a rather wet camping trip in Yorkshire (or was it the Urals?). Rosen held the audience in the grip of each word as he read the first few pages of book, complete with actions and voices.  If you want a sampling of his dynamic reading style, don't miss his youtube rendition of "We're Going on a Bear Hunt."  

Mark Haddon, by comparison, explained how learning ancient Greek profoundly changed his appreciation for reading.  Suddenly he could read the Iliad and the Odyssey in their original form.  Translating the ancient language into English made him consider every word, and every expression seriously.  This isn't something that we do when we read fluently in a language.  Too often we skim forward, only stopping at the 'best bits' to read slowly or re-read.

And while Michael Rosen and Mark Haddon were discussing the merits of different kinds of reading, I was sketching.  I intended to draw both men, but got stuck on Michael Rosen.  He bears an uncanny resemblance to my uncle Paul and my Dad!  Those blue eyes, slightly rounded nose and wiry grey beard.  My first attempt at drawing Michael actually ended up being my uncle Paul, totally by accident!  (See top left sketch).

If you're interested in finding out more about the importance of reading.  Pick up a copy of

Stop What You're Doing and Read This!

which is a book of essays on reading by Michael Rosen, Mark Haddon, Zadie Smith and many more.