Charles Dickens Is Too Difficult For Today's Children, Says His Biographer

06/02/2012 18:03 | Updated 22 May 2015
Kids lack concentration skills to read Charles Dickens  PA

Charles Dickens' biographer Claire Tomalin says modern children are unable to read his work because of their poor attention span and diet of 'dreadful television programmes'.

Claire Tomalin was speaking ahead of the 200th anniversary of the writer's birth.

She told the Press Association that Dickens was still "amazingly relevant", but that children were not sufficiently educated in terms of concentration to commit to his texts.

She said: "Children are not being educated to have prolonged attention spans and you have to be prepared to read steadily for a Dickens novel and I think that's a pity."

Dickens was, Claire says, 'the greatest creator of characters in English' after Shakespeare:

"He has gone on entertaining people since the 1830s and his characters' names are known all over the world.

"And because of the way he wrote, he adapts very well for theatre and even people who do not read him know about him from films, the TV and musicals.

"You only have to look around our society and everything he wrote about in the 1840s is still relevant - the great gulf between the rich and poor, corrupt financiers, corrupt MPs, how the country is run by old Etonians, you name it, he said it."

Ms Tomalins's comments come in the wake of Nick Gibb, the minister of state for schools, saying that Dickens could transform kids' reading habits and that "Every child ought to read a Dickens novel by the age of 11."

What do you think? Do you encourage your children to read classics like Dickens? Or do you agree with Claire Tomalin that kids' just aren't equipped for such lengthy works these days?

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