It doesn't have to be great literature for a kid to benefit. I went 
through a phase where I read every single book by Frank Yerby. I didn't 
know at the time that he had one plot and just changed the names of the 
characters and the locale for each lame novel; I thought I was reading 
real grown up stuff. Now and then I see one of his books at a used book 
sale, look at a few pages, chuckle, and thank him for his gift to a 
child desperate to be a grown up. One of the highlights of my education 
was in a small and dusty town in South Dakota where some astute 
librarian gave me a free access library card as opposed to the 
children's restricted card and I discovered that I owned the world 
right there in the town hall basement. Like you, Geoff, it was later 
pure delight to visit and feel I knew places that I had earlier known 
only in books. Like chocolate, reading has to be one of the gifts of 
the gods. Joan

>>  Not all were great literature but they
>> stimulated all sorts of things in me. Mary Renault's "The King Must 
>> Die" and
>> her series of other novels about ancient Greece has left me with a 
>> life-long
>> interest in the ancient world. I picked up my Mum's school copy of 
>> "Pride
>> and Prejudice" and loved it.