Do children need to learn to read anymore?

magna cartaI obviously think learning to read is a great idea. I earn my living writing children’s books. Children’s hard labour keeps me busy with honest toil.

I wouldn’t want children to grow up without recourse to the wonderful worlds of fantasy that I was able to explore in my youth. Narnia was not just a collection of words, to me it was a real place where, in complete safety, I learned long-lasting lessons about bravery, treachery, politics, sword -fighting and alternative religious ideas.

The wonderful stories I read, pulled me along the path of improving my reading skills. I didn’t know that was what I was doing, I just knew I wanted to read the next in the series. But, back then, there was no question that being able to read and write was a passport to grown-up society, where everything revolved around the written word.

But in a connected world of screens, retina scans, video, text to speech and speech to text, do children still really have to go through that painful, laborious process of learning to read? You just have to watch a pre-school child to see how they deal with technology – it’s as if the instructions were genetically imprinted.

I wouldn’t want children to miss out on all the wonderful characters who inhabited my childhood or my children’s childhoods. But those stories would still be available in apps and movies, videos and t-shirts.

Today is the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta.

If you could not read its contents, and have read enough to have learned how to interpret and read between the lines, you would have to accept what you were being told about it by the machine that was explaining it to you.

With words, unless they have been burned by a frightened authority, you can always go back to the source. Screens are a cut and paste world where every bit, every byte and every pixel can be carelessly modified by algorithms created by nameless drones working for unaccountable organisations.

Yes, children do still need to learn to read and to learn to read well, to be able to question and interpret. As they grow up into a world we can hardly begin to imagine, they must be able to return to the source codes of honesty, integrity, compromise and law. Those are the real lessons learned in children’s books.

It is the the stories that provide the pleasure that masks the pain and hard labour of learning to read, that make the process an exciting adventure that develops a thirst for knowledge and a dawning understanding of how others view the world. Reading a book is the closet you can get to reading someone else mind.

So I will gladly carry on writing – It’s my duty to try and help the next generation save itself from itself.

How to draw an Orchid

Orchid-Step-by-Step_0003

Learn how to draw an Orchid Real Easy. This was requested by Helena Cochran to help with a school project.

You can share your Real Easy drawings with the world and win prizes here: http://bit.ly/YourDrawings

You can download and collect printable step-by-step sheets from my Patreon page starting at only $1 a month or join my art school for courses, monthly assignments and lots, lots more! at http://www.patreon.com/shoorayner

How to draw the Coliseum

Learn to draw the Coliseum in Rome Real Easy. Step by Step sheets are available at where you can also join my Art School.

This video was requested by Pixel Arts. Why not share your real easy drawing son my community page here: http://bit.ly/YourDrawings

You can download and collect printable step-by-step sheets from my Patreon page starting at only $1 a month or join my art school for courses, monthly assignments and lots, lots more! at http://www.patreon.com/shoorayner

Join my Art School

For the past few years I’ve been making how to draw videos on YouTube, sharing my knowledge and skills. Now I need your help to let me continue that work and make the channel grow into something more special.

My ambition is to build what amounts to an online art school for all ages and abilities, for those who can’t get to an art school – for whatever reason – who need to work at their own pace, building skills and knowledge.

There will be courses teaching drawing, watercolour, illustration, cartooning, lettering, how to plan and write, and lots, lots more.

I aim to make interview videos with other successful artists, getting their hot tips and inspiration for you.

There will be monthly assignments that you can join in with, to expand your creative mind and help you to build a portfolio of work to be proud of.

Art School Community feeling will come through hangouts and live chats, so that you can learn from others too, just as you would if you were enrolled in a bricks and mortar establishment.

I’m able to do this through Patreon.com – a truly wonderful idea that allows you to join in at whatever level that suits you.

You may just want to support what I’m trying to achieve for others. You may just want to watch and learn from the sidelines or you can dive in deep and get as much as you can out of what I think is a real opportunity to learn real-life creative skills.

If you want to take your drawing and illustration skills to the next level, come and join me and start learning and developing your creative potential.

The video below explains how the site works in detail.

How to draw a poppy real easy

Learn how to draw a Poppy Real Easy

You can now download and collect printable step-by-step sheets from my Patreon page  starting at only $1 a month or join my art school for courses, monthly assignments and lots, lots more!