What Is ‘Ludic Reading’?


  • ‘Ludic’ or ‘absorbed’ reading is a virtually trance-like state in which readers willingly become oblivious to the world around them.
  • This is by no means a universal phenomenon — some readers read like this, others can’t.
  • For readers with the ability to become so absorbed in a book, aesthetic quality has little to do with enjoyment.
  • Instead, children’s preferences are more to do with matching the books’ themes to their own particular developmental stage and inner world. (This explains all the parents I saw at the book fair, searching for ‘books about dinosaurs’ and ‘books about diggers’, grabbing everything they could find on the theme rather than looking at what I might call ‘quality’.)
  • Such matching between reader and book is similar to falling in love.
  • Texts that have this effect on readers are likely to be read again and again.
  • The reader has to work for this — it’s not something that a book can one-sidedly do alone.
  • The term as used here comes from Hugh Crago and Victor Nell.
  • Ludic on its own means ‘showing spontaneous and undirected playfulness‘. (From Latin, related to ludere, ‘to play’ and ludus, ‘sport’.)