November 3, 2011
Why do I like the classics? My favorite era for authors is the mid 1800’s to mid 1900’s. To me it seems as though the writing is stronger and more detailed. When you read an author such as J.R.R. Tolkien, CS Lewis or Louisa May Alcott and compare the writings against a modern day author you will sit up and notice that the words and the story suck you in so that you feel like you are a part of the story.
Why Read the Classics to Your Children?
Reading the classics to your kids will give them access to words that people don’t use in everyday speech, exposes them to a proper sentence structure and correct grammer. The writing is more detailed and strengthens your child’s reading comprehension. These days kids are so immersed in videos and flashes of information that unless you are reading longer, more descriptive passages, they are going to have a much harder time understanding what they read and hear in school. Even with the level of reading that I do, I often find that for me to understand a great descriptive passage – I need to read it aloud or I get completely lost.
What Books Should You Start Reading With Your Kids?
Start reading the classics when your children are able to sit and listen to a story. Depending on the child, I like to start them with books that they may have heard of such as Heidi, Pippi Longstocking, or A Little Princess. Boys will like The Wind in the Willows, Pinocchio, Call of the Wild, and Swiss Family Robinson.
Remember each child is different. They don’t have to understand these books at 4-5 but if you pick a great story that your child can connect with, they will understand. You an even skip over small chunks and introduce those the second or third time you read the book with them.
For younger kids the Classic Starts series are great. There are still pictures in the book and the text and print is larger and easier to understand. For slightly older children, consider the the Puffin Classics or the Sterling Classics.
Two Last Pieces of Advice:
1) Try to pick out books with kids near the same age as your own children. The main character should be someone they connect with and understands. In Heidi, the book starts with a 5-year-old Heidi. In Tom Sawyer the boy is probably 10-12 years old. The subject and the maturity levels are vastly different.
2) DO NOT introduce the book with a movie – read the book first and then reward them with an older version of the book in movie form. An example would be to read Heidi and then watch the 1993 version with Jason Robards. Your kids will get a better view of Heidi as it was originally written.