"You should have been a librarian..."
Or at least that's what the lovely Marilyn Brocklehurst told me on Thursday, after I'd revealed to a roomful of nice kids at Bishops Stortford College that it took me the greater part of twenty five years to settle on a career I liked. I have to admit that being a librarian never occurred to me, though I enjoyed Marilyn's confession that her parents cried when she told them of her career choice. Librarians just don't have a sexy reputation. Which is a shame. Because a good number of the ones I've met have been opinionated, passionate and a little wild. (Ian Dodds, you know who you are.)
I became so enamoured of said profession after writing How I Live Now, that in all the early drafts of Just In Case, Agnes (Justin's funky love interest) was a librarian.
Why didn't she stay one? I dunno -- I must have chickened out, not knowing all that much about what library professionals do behind the scenes.....when they're not organising literary festivals or trying to read every book ever published.
ANYWAY, back at Bishops Stortford, the kids were enjoying Rosie Pike's first ever Literary Festival, which looked to me like a roaring success. I particularly liked the parent who slunk up to me after our panel on Getting Kids To Read in a Digital Age, and whispered, "Thanks for saying that no one HAS to read. I always feel so guilty."
Now stop that right now.
If people are going to feel guilty about not reading, I'm going to have to feel guilty about not writing 10,000 words a day or doing the ironing. Reading is starting to sound a little too much like eating our broccoli.
My suggestion is to tell kids that they are NOTunder any circumstances ALLOWED TO READ BOOKS, and see what happens.