Marcus Sedgwick: Bring back the Vikings!

Andrew Burns May 22, 2013
A Viking yesterday

Award-winning children's author Marcus Sedgwick says that Viking tales should be reinstated into the school curriculum

Award-winning author Marcus Sedgwick believes that it’s time to reclaim a largely forgotten chunk of history back into the classroom.

Sedgwick, author of 16 books for children and teens, argues that the Viking tales that have been “weeded” from the school curriculum should be reinstated back to children’s reading list.

He says: “The fact that we still read the Greek Myths owes something to the importance placed on a ‘classical education’. But that’s not the whole story: Shakespeare, Chaucer and Dante all made reference to Theseus, which shows there is something enduring about this story, that it really has stood the test of time.

“As alluring at the Greek Myths are, I’ve always argued that we ought to pay as much if not more attention to another set of myths, those of the Vikings, since they are much more directly our heritage.

“Yes, we take the names of our days from the Norse Gods, and most people can tell you a little about Thor, but that’s probably about it.”

Sedgwick has covered a range of topics in his writing, from gun crime to death to religion in a career that has earned him numerous shortlist spots on the Carnegie Medal, the Edgar Allan Poe Award and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize.

He added: “I’ve frequently worked folk tales, fairy tales, myths and legends into my novels, because I love these stories and I think they have a continuing power to enchant us. And I don’t see these stories as being only for children. Originally, in the days long before cinema and the opera and the theatre and even the novel, these were everyone’s stories.

“Scratch a little deeper into almost any myth or fairy tale and that soon becomes obvious. The fact that primary school students learn about Theseus only serves to highlight the parts of the story they won’t be told: how Aphrodite punished King Minos by making his wife fall in love with a bull, who she had sex with, giving birth to the Minotaur.

“We might have relegated old stories to the kindergarten, but it’s our loss if we have. Maybe young people are the only ones today with the time to read such stories. Or maybe they’re the ones, open-minded, and without fear, who have the wisdom required to read them.”

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