Children are the Most Merciless Readers

Philip Pullman's Acceptance Speech

Telling stories to children is the most pure form of storytelling there is. This is because children are the most merciless readers; with the honest appetite of youth and vitality, they go straight for what is most nourishing; they are not interested in the sophisticated self-conscious tricks we writers develop to please the jaded critics and impress our highly educated friends. Children want to know what happened next, and it’s a mark of the greatest writers for children that they always tell them.

Astrid Lindgren was one of those. Her stories fed the hearts and minds of young readers and never left them hungry. In giving this so very generous award, the government and people of Sweden are honouring not just me and my fellow-winner today but the whole tradition of story-telling, which has nourished the human heart since we first learned to speak. I am greatly honoured to take my place among those who tell stories to children; and just as the best stories always contain a happy surprise, this award is the happiest surprise I could ever receive. I shall do my best to deserve it.

Philip Pullman