Modern children 'lack the attention to read Dickens'
A generation of schoolchildren lack the skills needed to read Dickens after being “reared on dreadful television programmes”, a leading author has warned.
Claire Tomalin, the acclaimed biographer, said many pupils had such poor attention spans that they were unable to access books such as Oliver Twist, A Christmas Carol, Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities.
Speaking as the country prepares to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens' birth, she said his works were still “amazingly relevant” to young people but most struggled to read whole texts.
The comments come amid continuing concerns over children's attitudes towards reading in school and the home.
According to figures, the number of pupils taking a GCSE in English literature has dropped by 12 per cent in the last four years – dipping below 500,000 for the first time.
Ministers have warned that the demands placed on schoolchildren have been “too low for too long”, with fewer than one in 100 teenagers who sat the most popular English exam last year basing their answers on novels published prior to 1900.