Children's Laureate Michael Rosen in conversation with Hannah Solemani
Venue: The Institute of Psychoanalysis
Date: Thursday 25 September 2008
Michael Rosen talked to psychoanalyst Hannah Solemani about his work and his versatility as a communicator. They also discussed the part reading plays in the emotional life of children with particular reference to Mustard, Custard, Grumble Belly and Gravy and Michael Rosen's Sad Book.
Michael Rosen has written over 140 books including children's poetry and picture books. He received the Eleanor Farjeon Award for services to children's literature in 1997 and became Children's Laureate in 2007. He is well known for books such as We're Going on a Bear Hunt and Michael Rosen's Sad Book. He presents on TV and radio, as well as performing, teaching and lecturing.
Hannah Solemani is a psychoanalyst in private practice. She also works with adolescents at the Brent Centre for Young People and teaches at the Tavistock Institute and the Institute of Psychoanalysis.
Monday 6th October, 2008 | Posted by Caroline Graty
Jamie Oliver tried to do it for good food. Now Michael Rosen, poet, author and Children’s Laureate, wants to do it for good books. He’s been making a documentary for BBC4 to see if it’s possible to get a whole school into reading.
Rosen talked passionately at the recent Connecting Conversations event, talking to psychoanalyst Hannah Solemani about the importance of reading in children’s education, and his concern about the lack of encouragement they currently receive in schools to read. The government has put in place a compulsory framework focusing on to teaching kids how to read, but, he says incredulously, ‘when it comes to… the reading of books widely and often for pleasure for every single child, they say ‘it’s not our problem’.’
Why is it so important to get children reading? Rosen says ‘I would argue that it actually opens doors to a particular way of thinking… if you read widely and often it gives you easier access to discursive thought, various kinds of complex thought about time and place, a notion of a multiplicity of viewpoint.’ Kids who can develop this kind of thought, he says, ‘find the rest of school a cinch.’
Rosen also described his creative process, likening his thoughts to ping-pong balls bouncing in his head, waiting to be released and shaped by language. ‘When it gets on to the page there’s a sort of coolness about it because you look at the thing… and you’ve objectified, you’ve literally made it into material… so you can sit back and look at yourself.’ He likens it to looking into double mirrors. ‘That’s the feeling I have about a piece of writing, I am now looking at myself at the angle that I couldn’t look at myself from before. That I can describe as therapeutic, I could describe it as helpful, I could describe it as fascinating, I make discoveries.’