DEC Scan Journal : February 2012
The birth of the novel Beware of reading novels: they will do you no good and can bring harm. Such were the words of the Russian writer Mikhail Kheraskov to his pupil Anna Labinza, in 1776. Novels (from the French nouvelle), as the name suggests, were a new form of writing in the late 18th century. They were regarded with suspicion and were derided by serious readers who revered the high genres of tragedy, poetry, and history (Rosslyn, 2003). Interestingly, in changing socio-historical contexts, academics not only came to appreciate novels but also canonised those deemed to be the best. Education programs, for nearly two centuries, have dedicated time to cultivating students' interest in and high regard for novels. 21st century reading The National Year of Reading 2012 <www.love2read. org.au/> provides a focus to reflect on the nature of reading in the 21st century. It is also an opportunity to explore how we can engage in and enjoy the thrill of the literary adventure now at our fingertips. It is an understatement to say that reading matter has undergone change in recent decades. At issue now is pondering the extent to which new reading experi- ences are to be spurned or embraced in educational contexts. The matter in question is whether or not the 18 Learning and teaching Curiouser and curiouser ... a reading wonderland Cathy Sly, Consultant, takes us on a whirlwind exploration of the nature of reading. It is a timely reminder to embrace the wealth of material available and participate in diverse and engaging experiences of reading during the National Year of Reading 2012.