Are we conditioned at an early age to appreciate some literature over others? Some of my earliest memories of childhood reading occurred in the school library during the first grade. We were called alphabetically to choose a book to bring home and read for the week. Although there were at least four small shelves full of colourful, and probably exciting, picture books, everyone in the class desired the “Arthur” series. Unfortunately there were only a few ever in the library and they would be snatched up long before my name was called. There was a sense of pride attached to obtaining an Arthur book, and a disappointment if you missed the opportunity. I felt this disappointment often, while having to reluctantly settle on something else. Why is it, at such a young age, we find ourselves influenced to read certain books, to place them in a hierarchy? Of course, in this occasion it was due to the fact that the Arthur series at this time was an extremely popular cartoon show. But everyone, even those who only held a mild liking for the show, felt the common excitement and desire. I much preferred Garfield and Friends to Arthur, yet I too was affected by this desire.
Society, and the opinions of others, plays an important impact on what we consider popular, classic, literary, and even worth reading. We place value on what is valuable to the multitude.
And then there is the authoritative voice, be it the publisher or prominent literary magazines, which place regard and prestige on one book over another. Why is it important for society to have authoritative contests such as the Pulitzer Prize, or the Governor General’s literary award? Despite our personal preferences, there will always be hierarchy of literature. We are not told specifically what to read, but we are definitely made privy to what society deems as more valuable.
Round of words in 80 days count: 96 pages /100 🙂