We're loving the Shadow Magic blog tour, organised by the fabulous Faye Rogers, so it's great to be on it today with a fantastic Joshua Khan guest post on literacy!
Literacy is the most crucial skill in the world. That’s it. You cannot engage with the world around you if you cannot read, now more than ever, as we live in a world of pure information.
I’ve worked with the Beanstalk charity. It discovered at about 50% of the prison population is more or less illiterate. Of course, it seems obvious. People want to get on, they want to have the home comforts, the treats, the respect that earning a living gives. The pride. But if you can’t read or write, how will you acquire these things? It becomes hard and maybe other routes open up, less legitimate ones.
To paraphrase the Jesuits, also big on education, “Give me the boy at seven, and I will give you the reader.”
My greatest encounter as a writer was having a boy, big, fifteen or so, put my book down on the table for me to sign, and tell me he’d never finished a book before until now. He’d become a reader. It just takes the right book, and that can happen to even the most reluctant.
So, yes, it’s about seeing the world through the eyes of others, it’s about empathy, it’s about understanding, but in the end it’s about being part of today’s world. It’s about being able to engage, about begin able to understand what is truth and what is deceit. In the tidal wave of information coming at us all day, every day, it’s about being able to sift through the dross to the knowledge.
Reading is both a skill and a passion. It’s something hard, after all it’s weird squiggles on the page that are, supposed to, make understanding. If you forget how hard it must be for a kid to learn how to read and write just go pick up an Arabic or Chinese newspaper and see how far you get. Even with Google Translate.
Children’s books bear the burden, the responsibility and the honour of making readers. It may be a scene, a hero, even a line, that fires that kid’s passion to read on, to learn, to gain this most essential skill. Be it comic, be it chapter book, be it car manual, whatever it takes, we are duty-bound as children’s writers to put in our very best efforts to transform their lives, to give them the power, education in its simplest form, to go out and succeed in the modern world.
Thorn, an outlaw's son, wasn't supposed to be a slave. He's been sold to Tyburn, an executioner, and they're headed to Castle Gloom in Gehenna, the land of undead, where Thorn will probably be fed to a vampire.
Lilith Shadow wasn't supposed to be ruler of Gehenna. But following the murder of her family, young Lily became the last surviving member of House Shadow, a long line of dark sorcerers. Her country is surrounded by enemies and the only way she can save it is by embracing her heritage and practicing the magic of the undead. But how can she when, as a girl, magic is forbidden to her?
Just when it looks like Lily will have to leave her home forever, Thorn arrives at Castle Gloom. A sudden death brings them together, inspires them to break the rules, and leads them to soar to new heights in this fantasy with all the sparkle and luster of a starry night sky.
Release Date: 6th October 2016
Genre: MG Fantasy
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23510089-shadow-magic
Joshua Khan was born in Britain. From very early on he filled himself with the stories of heroes, kings and queens until there was hardly any room for anything else. He can tell you where King Arthur was born* but not what he himself had for breakfast. So, with a head stuffed with tales of legendary knights, wizards and great and terrible monsters it was inevitable Joshua would want to create some of his own. Hence SHADOW MAGIC. Josh lives in London with his family, but he’d rather live in a castle. It wouldn’t have to be very big, just as long as it had battlements.
*Tintagel, in case you were wondering.
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