Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite novelists. His books are witty and wondrous. He has written for children, adults, TV (including two Doctor Who episodes), the cinema and comics. Neil is also listed in the Dictionary of Literary Biography as one of the top ten living post-modern writers. Not bad then.
In 2013 he delivered the annual Reading Agency Lecture and it makes for scary listening. These are a few quotes from the lecture and you can listen to the entire lecture here.
“According to a recent study by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, England is the “only country where the oldest age group has higher proficiency in both literacy and numeracy than the youngest group, after other factors, such as gender, socio-economic backgrounds and type of occupations are taken into account”.
“Albert Einstein was asked once how we could make our children intelligent. His reply was both simple and wise. “If you want your children to be intelligent,” he said, “read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” He understood the value of reading, and of imagining.”
“fiction that opens a door, shows the sunlight outside, gives you a place to go where you are in control, are with people you want to be with (and books are real places, make no mistake about that); and more importantly, during your escape, books can also give you knowledge about the world and your predicament, give you weapons, give you armour: real things you can take back into your prison. Skills and knowledge and tools you can use to escape for real. As JRR Tolkien reminded us, the only people who inveigh against escape are jailers.”
Make your own mind up but I for one would echo his plea to our politicians, reading matters and access to knowledge is a human right that we tamper with it at our peril.