Susan Hill, the writer, recently set out a reasonable, unpatronising case for not teaching all teenagers the classics. But would any sane school librarian turn down a free gift of three hundred classics from the Everyman Library? Quite a few have, in fact:
A letter from one expressed "dismay and sadness at the waste of money these books are ... even an Ofsted inspector asked me why I hadn't binned them. The paper jackets are ugly and unattractive, and the binding is dull and boring ... what is needed is the familiar paperback format with attractive jackets and abridged editions" ran another...
Most alarming, perhaps, was the pronouncement from one school that "the language in all but a few of them is beyond the comprehension of most of the students we see ... The harsh reality of our secondary schools is that children just don't have the skills to tackle such complex ideas in the written format."
One librarian is given the chance to answer back in the piece. ("Kids love action and adventure. They want books that excite them and are current.") She means well, but I wouldn't want to be one of her pupils.