WRITER Terry Deary has called for schools to stop using his Horrible Histories books – claiming classrooms take all the fun out of his stories.
The best-selling author, who lives at Burnhope, County Durham, has written more than 60 titles in the history series, selling more than 25 million copies in 40 countries.
Yet while Mr Deary is delighted that so many youngsters discover a passion for reading and history through his books, he is furious that teachers around the UK use them in lessons to engage children.
The writer and actor is now calling upon education leaders to ban the use of his books, claiming it is up to the youngsters themselves to discover his works and that they may not enjoy books such as Vile Victorians and Rotten Romans if they are forced to read them.
Mr Deary, who has been selected to carry the 2012 Olympic torch on one stretch, said: “I’ve never set foot in a school to give a talk.
“I’d rather cut off my left arm and eat it with Marmite than go into a school – and I don’t even like Marmite – but I’d consider going into schools to rescue my books.
“I detest schools with a passion. My main beef with schools is that they are an utter waste of young life because they don’t educate. Education is preparing someone for life and schools fail to do that.
“If I could bulldoze them I would, and I do have a petition running on my website to close all schools and set children free.
“It’s very often the parents, more likely the parents of a boy, who say to me, ‘My child never read a book until he read Horrible Histories and now he reads avidly’.
“They get children to read because they are fact-based.
“My other beef with schools is they say boys don’t like to read. It’s a well-known fact that boys don’t like to read fiction, so why teach fiction when they like facts?
“Once they discover Horrible Histories they fly.”
He also rounded on the National Curriculum and Ofsted inspectors for putting teachers under immense stress, while also controlling what they teach.
He said: “Anyone can go into any work- place, look at someone’s methods and pick their work apart – I almost feel sorry for teachers, they are under such stress. I know I rail against schools but once the National Curriculum came in, in 1997, they weren’t allowed to teach any more.
“They teach what they are told by some numpties in Whitehall who wouldn’t know a real kid if it bit them on the nose.” Mr Deary’s most recent book Put out the Light won Sheffield Libraries’ fiction prize and was also long-listed for the Carnegie Medal in 2012.
He added: “Long listed is good for me. I’m not an award-winner, I just want people to read my books.”
Warts and all history has proved a hit
TERRY Deary has written a total of 214 fiction and non-fiction titles.
The most popular book series is Horrible Histories, first started in 1993, which have sold 25 million copies in 40 countries.
The illustrated history books are designed to engage children in history by concentrating on the unusual, gory and unpleasant. Horrible Histories have recently been adapted for television appearing first on CBBC and now BBC1 with Stephen Fry as narrator – giving the show just as big an adult audience as a young audience.
The next few months see a new addition to the books – Horrible Histories Gruesome Guides. Guides to Dublin, Edinburgh, London, Stratford-upon-Avon and York will be first.