The headteacher of a prominent (and expensive) school for boys has boasted of preventing his students from reading “bad” books with zombies and vampires in them.
Andrew Halls, head of King’s College School in Wimbledon, southwest London, said that the action-packed books beloved of his students are often “not good enough” for educational purposes and should be discouraged.
As such, he is trying to stop the 11-year-olds at his school from reading books like the Alex Rider spy series, the Artemis Fowl sci-fi novels and other fantastical titles like the Twilight series.
Halls, writing in the Sunday Times, said he is determined to steer his charges – whose parents pay around $19,000 a year infees – away from “literary fast food”.
He wrote: “I keep saying ‘good’ books. That’s because, unlike some, I do think there are bad ones. Or at least, books that are so simplistic, brutal or banal they are barely worth reading. I wouldn’t ban them, but I certainly wouldn’t bother recommending them.”
Instead, he has assembled a list of 300 approved classics which will be placed in every classroom, where the boys will be encouraged to read them instead of books they might otherwise choose for themselves.
Anthony Horowitz, the author of the Alex Rider books, criticized attempts to police the tastes of students.
He said Halls “should have more confidence in the ability of children to find the books they enjoy and which inspire them — and perhaps rather less in his ability to dictate their tastes.”