UK Children’s Laureate Michael Rosen has written a post for The Guardian claiming he’s been completely misquoted in recent news articles that said he called the Harry Potter books ‘boring’ and ‘inappropriate’.
In an article in The Sunday Times, the reporter claimed Rosen said he couldn’t engage with Harry Potter, that he wouldn’t read the novels to his children, and that the books are ‘too ambiguous and bear no relation to the real world’. The story was picked up by several other news sources across Britain, some radio programs, and the Guardian itself.
Rosen, in his post on the Guardian website, says it was all taken out of context. According to his post, he said that as an adult reader, Harry Potter wasn’t his preferred choice of reading material, and that seems fair enough, frankly. Not everyone loves the Boy Who Lived. He also said he thought that the books might be too advanced for younger readers, like the average seven-year-old (like his daughter). Not that younger readers would find them boring, but that the plot might be too convoluted for early readers. And hasn’t JK Rowling herself said that, in the beginning, anyway, she imagined the audience as around the same age as Harry, ie eleven? I don’t have a seven-year-old and an eleven-year-old on hand for immediate comparison, but I would think that the four years between seven and eleven make a big difference in reading abilities.
Rosen doesn’t address the Sunday Times article point for point, but instead asks why the media is covering this instead of raising the profile of reading in general, and lists a few examples of programs for young readers that could use some publicity. He also says that not one of the other news sources that picked up the story called him to check the quotes, or even whether he wanted to make any follow-up statements (which is frankly unsurprising, given the fact-checking habits of today’s media).
The comments section of Rosen’s post includes some interesting debate, and he’s posted a few responses to queries and things, as well.