Thursday, 14 August 2008
We could have told them that! - by Linda Strachan
My favourite place to be in August is Charlotte Square in Edinburgh. For just over two weeks it is the home of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, a gathering of authors of all kinds speaking on just about every subject you could imagine.
One particular delight is going along to events that make me look at the bigger picture and this morning I had the chance to listen to an astronomer talking about astrophysics - dark matter and the Big Bang, among other things. At times the ideas and wonderful pictures presented on slides made me feel like my head was having to expand to take in some awesome ideas and concepts.
The presentation was fascinating and very accessible but one particular comment made me smile. He talked about how he had come to realise that he wanted to present his subject without seeming to be trying to educate. That way he wouldn't switch people off and they could still learn along the way.
Later today a rather famous writer of adult books explained how he had written a book for people who were reluctant readers (adults I assume) and how he'd had to write a story in a short number of words and still tell the whole story, also writing in simpler language.
It occurred to me that these are the things that most children's writers do all the time; presenting facts and a view of life to children in a way that will not suggest that we are trying to educate them, just telling them a story and letting them take from it what they will and writing to a short word count with appropriate language.
I was amused to hear both these adult writers sounding so delighted with themselves for having discovered how to do these things all by themselves. If they had just asked any children's writer.....