## Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Some parents will spend critical periods in their lives encouraging their children to read.

An old English phrase has become refined to: “You can lead a horse to water but you can not make him drink.”

A more modern Eleven Plus phrase is: “You can give your child a book but you can not make him read.”

Parents will use every form of warning, enticement and sheer forcefulness to promote reading. An argument that children can put up is that sometimes it takes a long time to read a book. Parents could present their children with a little eleven plus problem.

Eleven Plus Exercise One

Reading at 150 words a minute means that it could take a week to read three quarters of a book, a month to read three books, a year to read thirty six books and ten years to read three hundred and sixty books.

Reading now at 350 words a minute suggests that one and three quarter books could be read in a week, seven and a half in a month, ninety in a year and nine hundred in ten years. (The eleven plus is over well before the ten year limit is reached.)

The mathematics presupposes that an adult has enough time in the day to be able to read for at least an hour a day, six days a week.

The other variable to take into account is the length of the book. Some adult books will average around seventy thousand words. Some books will be considerably shorter – and others much longer.

Eleven Plus Exercise Two
How long does it take a child to read a book?

First of all finding an hour a day, six days a week would be rather demanding for an eleven plus child. It does, however, make for an interesting debating point.

The other immense variable is the length of a book aimed at ten to thirteen year olds. It is possible that an average of seventy thousand words may be too many words. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, aimed at nine to twelve year olds, however, has around a quarter of a million words! This would upset any average!

Reading on a Kindle may affect reading speed – as it is possible to manipulate the size of words and the orientation of the screen. By now the variables have grown out of control.

“Dear, please try to read the books you were given for Christmas. It is now the middle of February and you have only read ……. “