Your article on children’s books (Then we’ll begin, G2, 12 May) is very welcome and nobody would want to deny the importance for children of having stories read to them, but we should beware of demonising TV. Like it or not, children gain an enormous amount of important literacy concepts from their early TV viewing.
When schools are brave and imaginative enough to take account of this, children’s attainment leaps ahead. Teachers can build on children’s early media experiences by helping them to cross-refer between books and moving-image media such as film and TV when they are learning about how stories work, how to make inferences and predictions, how generic rules can be applied or broken, how to “read” character clues, and how to interpret settings.
By recognising that films and TV are as much part of children’s cultural life as books are – or should be – and by taking up their responsibilities to extend and enhance children’s learning in both print and moving-image media, they can help children become more fully literate for the 21st century. Unfortunately, most teachers are woefully underinformed about the role of TV and film in children’s lives, and are selling children short by creating an unnecessary opposition between books and other media.
Chair, Media Education Association
• I took exception to Lucy Mangan’s comment in the review of Goodnight Mr Tom: “Get it to your kids before it is ruined by being presented as a set text at school.” Why not appreciate teachers who take the trouble to become familiar with children’s literature and are able to choose good novels to share with their pupils?
I read this book with my junior classes for a number of years and it was a perennial favourite. Does Mangan think teachers should choose bad novels to read in the classroom to avoid “ruining” the good ones?
Moira, Craigavon, Co Armagh
• Your recommendations omit a truly wonderful series: the Tim books illustrated by Edward Ardizzone. The books used for reading to my sons fell to bits eventually. Years later when all my boys were grown up they were reprinted and I bought the whole series just to read by myself and relive happy bedtimes!
• Never mind how they could forget Pooh (and Alice), how could you illustrate the article (How could you forget Pooh?, G2, 14 May) with Disney versions when the original illustrations by EH Shepherd and Jon Tenniel are such an integral part of the enjoyment?