Follow Up to TheGirl’s post on literacy: Riddles


I realized that it was time to read more than my usual stuff as bed time stories to my 12 yr old daughter. She hasn’t wanted a bed time story for a long time and I stopped.

She reads a lot but it’s all dogs and vampires, and murdering each other in survival games and there’s a bookshelf of very good books she’ll never read because they are old and none of her friends read them. I had a look at them and thought back to when I was twelve. The dingy school library was a treasure chamber. It was a crappy school and it was either read books or help the half crazed headmaster construct fibre glass canoes. Probably illegal even then!

The Jungle Book! For me, without TV, and time on my hands, that was magic. Words, poetry, but for my daughter it’s a movie. Not a bad movie! Great music! Louis Armstrong! But it isn’t a book. I had a quick whip through options. No. White Fang. Narnia? Naah! And I thought no way I’m hitting her with HG Wells, or anything, absolutely anything I liked when I was her age.

I hit on The Hobbit. And I thought of story telling as I have seen it in many countries that lack 503 channels of TV showing serial killers and garden makeovers and selling new fruit cutting knives at bargain prices but BUY NOW! And magazines selling cosmetics. I thought of how to keep people interested.

I thought of the riddles in Gollum’s Cave.

I fought my daughter tooth and nail to engage in this TheGirl’s literacy idea and I seduced her with the riddles that got Bilbo and Gollum on a collision course that has become a world changing phenomenon.

And introduced her to the idea of riddles.

That put the hook in her. Riddles in the dark.

Bring the young readers into the light. Most of the riddles in the Hobbit are tough to figure out but there are thousands of riddles out there that can be incorporated in a story to wake up and involve the listener and reader. And a lot more riddles to invent!

This is a Hugh Paxton’s Blog contribution to international literacy. And again my thanks to TheGirl for letting me know this was actually happening. Nobody else I knew, knew.

Write on!

(in Bangkok, a lovely night, soft with the sound of scented insects….if riddles aren’t your thing, try some poetry!)

One Response to “Follow Up to TheGirl’s post on literacy: Riddles”

  1. Stella Says:

    Riddles are good fun. Here are some Viking ones from the Hervarar Saga:

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