The Royal Society of Literature asked authors to nominate ten books they think children should read before they leave school. This is part of an ongoing quest to find a universal list; "a children's canon on which people might like to draw".
Many authors declined to take part, pointing out that the task was impossible or problematic. Other authors seem to have declared an unfamiliarity with children, recommending Ulysses and Don Quixote as candidates.
I suppose the question is, should the included books encourage reluctant readers, challenge experienced readers, reflect a child's world back to them, introduce new worlds, or encompass the whole of human history? Because no list of ten anything could achieve that.
Ben Okri offered the best suggestion, with 10 1/2 inclinations:
There is a secret trail of books meant to inspire and enlighten you. Find that trail.
Read outside your own nation, colour, class, gender.
Read the books your parents hate.
Read the books your parents love.
Have one or two authors that are important, that speak to you; and make their works your secret passion.
Read widely, for fun, stimulation, escape.
Donít read what everyone else is reading. Check them out later, cautiously.
Read what youíre not supposed to read.
Read for your own liberation and mental freedom.
Books are like mirrors. Donít just read the words. Go into the mirror. That is where the real secrets are. Inside. Behind. Thatís where the gods dream, where our realities are born.
10Ĺ) Read the world. It is the most mysterious book of all.
Six other lists, including those by J.K. Rowling and Philip Pullman, can be found at Read Alert.