Charles Dickens on childhood reading – “Where We Stopped Growing”

The great novelist Charles Dickens was born in London on February 7th 1812, and while there are so many events taking place in London and around the world to celebrate his 200th birthday we wanted to add our contribution by bringing to your attention a short essay he published in 1853 in his own magazine “Household Words”. “Where We Stopped Growing” is Dicken’s statement of the importance of childhood reading for memory and development. One of his own favourites had been Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe” and Dickens writes:

“We have never grown a thousandth part of a inch out of Robinson Crusoe. He fits us just as well, and in exactly the same way, as when we were among the smallest of the small. We have never grown out of his parrot, or his dog, or his fowling-piece, or the horrible old staring goat he came upon in the cave, or his rusty money, or his cap, or umbrella…. ” We have never grown out of the real original roaring giants.”

The urge to make children read more has been taken up by leading ELT thinker Stephen Krashen. You can follow those arguments on his website here.

And for more Dickens material please try David Perdue’s Charles Dickens Page “Dedicated to bringing the genius of Dickens to a new generation of readers”


About The Henry Brothers

We are English teachers involved in ELT publishing in Turkey, and also touring the country giving workshops and presentations to English teachers, mainly on the use of poetry, storytelling and other lively activities in the classroom. We can be contacted by e-mail to or
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