From London comes word that "dozens of schools" in the U.K. have refused to accept 300-book sets of the classics that the Millennium Library Trust has provided them free of charge. Why? Because the books are too boring and unattractive to "tempt" their students.
Dozens of schools have rejected gifts of free classic books because today's pupils find them too 'difficult' to read, it has emerged....
Around 50 schools have refused to stock literary works by the likes of Jane Austen, William Shakespeare and Charles Dickens after admitting that youngsters also find them boring.
...pupils are more interested in Japanese comics rather than literary greats. "Kids love action and adventure," Miss Read said. "They want books that excite them and are current. They love fantasy....
"The books for nowadays are Manga, the Japanese comic books that you read from back to front."
The librarian went on to say that the classics were "unattractive". She said: "I think they are unappealing to youngsters and you've got to fit them into your school bag."
Another school, which rejected the free 'Everyman's Library' books, wrote: "The paper jackets are ugly and unattractive and the binding is dull and boring.
"What is needed is the familiar paperback format with attractive jacket and abridged versions."
Another school complained: "The books are so unattractive they are unlikely to tempt any pupil."
Mr Campbell, who has raised £9million to pay for the books, told the Guardian yesterday: "It never occurred to me that anyone would turn this offer down.The students in schools where the books have been rejected are very obviously being ill served by their school librarians and I have to wonder why those librarians are not sacked for displaying such a high level of stupidity and shaming their schools this way. It appears that "dumbing down" is becoming as much a problem in the U.K. as it has become in America. If students are not challenged they will do as little as it takes to get by, and that's the fault of poor teachers and school administrators like these who themselves seem to have become cultural illiterates. Shame on the lot of them.
"I didn't expect most school pupils to want to read Homer or Virgil, but I thought that there was more than a reasonable chance that quite a few could be coaxed to read (Gabriel Garcia) Marquez, Primo Levi, (Ernest) Hemingway, (Evelyn) Waugh or even Chinua Achebe."
He added: "Where I have less sympathy is where librarians or teachers have clearly thrown in the towel and don't believe anyone in the school can be inspired to read beyond the bare syllabus minimum.
"I can't believe that one would have had a refusal of such a gift in any other country in Europe, certainly not in Eastern Europe. These books are the DNA of our civilisation. They should be available to everyone as they grow up."
However, not all the responses were negative. One school librarian wrote: "We are a low-achieving high school, but we're improving. I would never have been able to find the money in my meagre budget to buy copies of these classics."