The Benefits of Reading, According to Ms Dutton and Mr de la Mare

April 15, 2013

Here’s Ellen Dutton‘s latest Stop Motion animation, on the benefits of reading. I thought it would be nice to set this alongside some of the thoughts Walter de la Mare shared in his anthologies for young people. Here’s an extract from Come Hither, a book of poems and prose extracts he published for young people in 1923, which was republished again as recently as 1990:

That is one of the pleasures of reading – you may make any picture out of the words you can and will; and a poem may have as many different meanings as there are different minds. (p. xxv-xxvi).

And these are from the introduction he and Thomas Quayle gave to their Readings of 1927:

That is really what it comes to: there is not really time enough in our short lives, with so much to be done, to waste much of it or our minds on what will not prove of lasting joy and use and service to them. (p. xx).

One simply cannot pay too much attention to what we see around us and in particular to living and beautiful things. And more especially when we are young. If possible, then, when you read about anything in a book, see it as clearly as you can in your own mind; then do your best to find that thing in the world around; then compare it with what the writer has said about it. Make your own discoveries. Explore! (p. xx)

A good book, indeed, is the next best thing in this life to a true friend. It gives all it has to give solely for the asking – and wants nothing in return but just a thankful blessing on the man who wrote it. (p. xxi).

The methods of information literacy for young people may have changed, but the sentiments are very much the same. As de la Mare and Quayle put it, “To be able to read is to be able to explore – as far as we will and can – the World of Books.” (p. xvii). Capital ‘W’, capital ‘B’.

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