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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Writes of Passage: Collection selected by Nicolette Jones

“There is so much wisdom in children’s books.”

So begins in the introduction to the fine collection of writings that are designed to be read by pre-teens in the latest hardback collection curated by Nicolette Jones. Drawing on writings from both historical writers (even Shakespeare gets a look in) and modern writers, Jones has compiled a collection that really helps young people find themselves in the words on the pages of poetry, play, quotes, and extended texts.

Some pieces are very short, just a few poignant words that help reflect an emotional connection with others, or with the world around you. Others are longer extended passages that develop a sense of characterisation or a thematic link to one of the eight sections: Childhood and Your Past; Happiness and Sadness; Nature and the World; Kindness and Courage; Family, Love and Home; Equality and Justice; Reading; Becoming You and Your Future.

The emphasis on reading is one that is highly important in the age of the modern lifestyle. Cognitive benefits of reading off the page (not off the screen) are endorsed wholeheartedly by science and alluded to in the book. The enjoyment of reading and the discipline of daily rituals around reading cement habits of learning and incredible cognitive benefits. With all the incredible outcomes from reading, it is not hard to imagine this becoming a vital part of school curriculum in due course.

The writers are well known: from Roald Dahl, to Michelle Obama; Anne Frank to Dylan Thomas, there really is something in the collection for everyone. The bitesize extracts also work very well to read several in a short sitting and feel a swelling of pride and growth in the soul.

In the introduction, Jones encourages the reader to make their own collection of fragments taken from readings. Thus, journaling becomes a logical next step for most young readers. A noble and worthy endeavour.

Even though the title is based around the “Words you should read before you turn 13” there are plenty of words in here that have as much benefit to those about to turn 30 as 13.

The final passage is taken from the incredibly powerful passage from The House on Pooh Corner - perhaps the lesser read of the Winnie-The-Pooh stories by A.A. Milne. It ends “So they went off together. But wherever they go, and whatever happens to them on the way, in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest a little boy and his Bear will always be playing.”

May that thought never be lost and may the reading of books such as these continue to be a joy, forever.

Reviewer: Chris Reed

Nosy Crow


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