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Children lack attention span to read Dickens

Leading Charles Dickens biographer Claire Tomalin has said that children are not being taught to read with the attention span necessary to appreciate Dickens’ great works.

Charles Dickens

Leading Charles Dickens biographer Claire Tomalin has said that children are not being taught to read with the attention span necessary to appreciate Dickens’ great works.

Tomalin has said that Dickens's depiction of an unequal society is still "amazingly relevant" to today’s society and children should be encouraged to read his novels. She commented that she felt children were now unable to appreciate Dickens’ work due to "being reared on dreadful television programmes", in an interview with the Press Association.

Her comments come a day ahead of nationwide celebrations to mark the 200th anniversary of Dickens’ birth. On Tuesday, events will take place around the UK to celebrate, they include a street party in Portsmouth, Hampshire, where the novelist was born and a wreath-laying ceremony at his grave in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey, London, attended by the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall and celebrities including Ralph Fiennes. There will also be a Global Dickens Read-a-thon taking place in 24 countries from Albania to Zimbabwe, beginning in Australia with a reading from Dombey and Son.

Tomalin, said Dickens was "after Shakespeare, the greatest creator of characters in English. 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.”

However she also commented that "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."

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