Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Finding a classic for today

I’m looking for a classic to read to my son.

Although he’s a good reader, I still read to him every night. It’s us-time. And, it gives me a chance to stop and explain certain words or phrases as I read.

A couple of days ago, driving home from vacation, we finished the final Harry Potter book. So I needed something new to read to him.

I want desperately to read him the classics. When I was little I loved Little Women, and Wind in the Willows and Sherlock Holmes.

But you know, when I went to the library and started flipping through some of the books, the language posed a real barrier. The words seem very arcane, and the phrases they used were very complicated and out-of-context for a seven-year-old today.

Tom Sawyer starts out with Aunt Polly looking to smack Tom with a switch, and condemning him to work “with the small coloured boy.” Um, no. Treasure Island’s first page is a quagmire of ancient phrases like, “his tarry pigtail,” and “the capstan bars.” He’ll be turned off the book before it even gets going. Gulliver’s Travels gets exciting pretty quickly, but it’s full of spellings like “lye” and “happen’d”—not great when you’re still teaching your child to spell properly.

So those books will have to wait until he’s a bit older—maybe 12 or 13.

But I’m not giving up! I found a copy of Robin Hood, which has a two-page introduction that explains, in plain English, what’s happening in England at the time it is set (feudalism, lords and serfs, and what’ll happen to you if you kill a King’s hart). That kind of grabbed his interest. Plus, the action gets going pretty quickly on the first page.

I’ll let you know what happens. In the meantime, please check out this New York Times article with their list of great summer reading for kids.

This is an image from Rocket Robin Hood, an old Canadian TV series. Looking back, it's very bizarre--Robin Hood set in the future. But at the time, we all loved it.

Thanks everyone, for voting for Getting Kids Reading in the BlogLuxe Awards. We placed 21 out of 178 blogs in our category. That's pretty great! Readership of GKR has gone up quite a bit since the awards. Welcome, new readers!

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