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'Not a threatened species' II

1 March 2010

'Books are not a threatened species. They are ordinary features of the ordinary world. Kids read them, just as many (how many?) adults read them. They aren't "good" for us in the way that medicine is. They don't "help" in any specific way. Feeding books to the bad lads won't immediately civilise them and make them good. But they draw us together. They entertain us. They show us as we are - imperfect, partial, elusive, unfinished, beyond straightforward comprehension. They show us as we could be - more angelic, more satanic. They show us how our world could be - more like Heaven or more like Hell. Paradoxically, it's in fiction's weird mingling of facts and lies that we can approach the deepest and most complex "truths" about ourselves. Should we, who read books and believe that books and the stories within them contain such power, be surprised that kids read, that books survive? Of course not. We should be celebrating these facts.'

David Almond, author of Skellig, in The Times