Eleanor Doughty is dismayed at the news that some universities and colleges are offering rewards like fee reductions or laptops to students with good grades

BOOK REVIEW / Rights and wrongs of being correct: 'The War of Words: The Political Correctness Debate' - ed Sarah Dunant: Virago, 7.99 pounds

LINDA GRANT opens her contribution to this collection of essays with a contrast between attitudes to date rape in the 1970s, when she was a student, and today. Drawing movingly on her own experiences, she argues that date rape was as common then as it is now. The change lies in women's reactions. When she was at university, a victim of date rape might have bad-mouthed the rapist among her friends, but would probably have left it at that. Today, a student would be offered counselling by a women's group, feminists at the university might seek to persuade her to prosecute and in all likelihood - or so Grant seems to imply - she would experience the event as much more of a trauma than she in fact did in the 1970s.

Best-Sellers: Top 10 most borrowed authors

1 Catherine Cookson

Village of Little Englanders: The Broader Picture

SOMEWHERE among the contraflows on the A40 from London to Oxford, a few miles north of the magnificently surreal facade of the Hoover building, there is one of those rosetted road signs which draw travellers' attention to non-highway destinations. Thousands of drivers must have been intrigued by its message, inviting them to take the next exit to the 'MODEL VILLAGE'.

Spot Check: The Talking Bookshop

We've all spotted the talking book addict. A long haired forty something in brown cord and paisley, pottering along in a beaten-up station wagon. A Kit-Kat melts in one hand while he fumbles to swap a treasured recording of Homer's The Iliad with the other.

Labour's ideal leader - female, Scots and called Tony

ALTHOUGH the issue of the Labour leadership has been temporarily shelved, out of respect for the prospect of doing well in the Euro elections, there is nevertheless a lot of interest in the forthcoming battle. Indeed, in the absence of other news, the papers have talked of little else for days. So much for the idea of temporarily shelving the issue of the Labour leadership.

BOOK REVIEW / Children's Books: The grisly corpse rises every month: Dina Rabinovitch considers the new fashion for teenage horror fiction

Three years ago, if you went into your local branch of W H Smith in search of a book for a teenager, the sales assistant probably shrugged and pointed you to the CDs or videos instead. There were no books that teenagers were interested in reading. The nation's bookseller knows above all, which books sell, and to whom. The teenage market was dead.

Leading Article: Nannying and coercion

THE NANNY state would have reached its apotheosis if parents were press-ganged into classes on nurturing their offspring. Visions are conjured up of mums and dads being lectured on the dangers of Enid Blyton and warned against overdoses of Nintendo. The idea that the hand of officialdom could so obtrusively and compulsorily rock the cradle is offensive.

Wanted: the best children's writers: Do children enjoy the books their parents want them to read? Jenny Gilbert asks a mother and son

THE HUNT is on for the best new short stories of 1994, stories that no six- to nine- year-old will want to put down. The reward? A pounds 2,000 prize and publication in the Independent for the winning entry. Two joint runners-up will receive pounds 500 each, and the top 10 entries will be printed in a special anthology by Scholastic Children's Books, making these the top awards in this country for unpublished work for children. The invitation is open to professional writers, but we especially want to encourage new talent.

The Independent / Scholastic Story of the Year: One year on: a winner's tale: Nicholas Le Prevost and Freddy

Nicholas Le Prevost, 46, is in the Feydeau farce 'An Absolute Turkey' at the Globe Theatre, London. He lives in East Sussex with his wife, Aviva Goldkorn, a family barrister, and their two sons, Freddy, 9, and Reuben, 7. Freddy goes to Iford and Kingston C of E school in East Sussex.

The Independent / Scholastic Story of the Year: One year on: a winner's tale: Janet Boateng and Mirabelle

Janet Boateng, 38, is married to the Labour MP for Brent South, Paul Boateng. They live in Wembley with their five children, two boys and three girls aged between 7 and 13. A former social worker, she is studying for an MA in social policy. Mirabelle, their eldest, goes to St Marylebone C of E school for girls.

I Confess: Natalie Wheen sails away with Arthur Ransome

The writer Arthur Ransome was the saving grace of my spoilt colonial childhood. Through him I escaped the dreadful rounds of tennis lessons and swimming parties. Janet and John left me cold, Enid Blyton was little better, but the library of the Ladies' Recreation Club somehow led me to the world of Swallows and Amazons and We Didn't Mean to Go to Sea. Messing about in boats.

Letter: Blyton bias

Sir: How is it that, having been subjected to the malign influence of Enid Blyton to such an extent during her childhood, Nicola Jones (Living, 14 December) grew up to be such a wonderful and caring person?

Parents beware: the awful Blyton is back: Nicola Jones refuses to read her children the stories she once devoured

A few weeks ago I was reading Enid Blyton's The River of Adventure to my children, but was so shocked by its underlying racist assumptions that I stopped half-way through.

TRIED & TESTED / Power playing: Brain-draining or fine family fun? We turn to board games

Traditional-style games, it is claimed, help to bring the family together. But if the rules are impenetrable, you have to wait ages for your turn and the game grows tedious after just 10 minutes, the only traditional thing it's likely to lead to is the Christmas family row. So if you are intending to buy a game, which is best? We asked guests at the Manor House Hotel in Devon to test a selection. If you want to make sure your board game isn't boring, read on.

Books for Children / What, Holmes, no trace of us?: Anthologies

IF ANYTHING can be said with confidence about children and fiction, it is that they are repelled by the stuff which sets out to improve them. In choosing 44 of the 'best' original stories for children from the past 250 years for The Oxford Book of Children's Stories (OUP pounds 17.95), Jan Mark has selected 10 samples from the years 1749 to 1864, each of which fails on this count: in fact, 'The Ill-Natured Boy', 'The First Theft' and the other early stories turn out to be almost unreadable today, even by an adult with some social or historical curiosity. Their faults are prescriptiveness, bad writing and a sneaking antipathy towards the child audience itself. If these 10 really were the best stories from the mid-18th to the mid-19th centuries, one grieves for the starved imaginations of the young contemporaries of Jane Austen and Dickens.
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