It happened pre-pandemic on a trip to Leicester College. I saw the library had rows of abridged versions of famous classics but the students were not borrowing them and were not reading. One librarian said to me, ‘ For God’s sake Dr Lawler, give us something to get boys reading’.
Just then a boy of about 16 came in and spoke to the librarian and said ‘ Miss have you got a thingy?’
She said, ‘ what’s a thingy love?’
He said ‘ you know, you have them in here.’
She said ‘ a book?’
‘ Yeah that’s the word.’
This illustrates the problem, because he doesn’t read he has not developed his language skills and because he had low language, he doesn’t read. I asked what he studied and she said engineering. So why were they not reading the books on offer? The truth is cultural. Most of the students were of Asian heritage but the books on offer were classics like Robinson Crusoe. How relevant is that to an Asian boy in Leicester?
So in my day job I work with Hamilton-Vale authors and we came up with an idea that we are now publishing.
So here is our first and it is on sale here
It tells the story of the Little Grey Tractor and we read about Ferguson’s innovative engineering invention of the three-point hitch and how it became an international standard for tractors and still remains so today. This was engineering genius at its best. So much so that Henry Ford Senior ( of Ford cars) placed Harry Ferguson alongside the Wright Brothers (flight), Edison (the light bulb) and Bell (the telephone), it really was that important with 85% of the world’s tractors basing their engineering on his unique ideas. We also read about how the little Grey Fergie saved a town from a disaster and we read of the Scandinavian children’s film franchise ‘Little Grey Fergie’.
There has also been another area of demand and that is older men. In Wales this is really popular and on its way to being a best seller in Wales.
So this new series is our contribution to Global Literacy.
This is the first in the series, we have five more coming in the autumn, complete the enquiry form if you want more details and help spread the word.