Should Younger Children Read Books Originally Written for Older Children/Adults, Providing they’re Suitable? Month 6 of Learning at Home

Should Edward, aged 7, be reading ‘The Hobbit’ by JRR Tolkein?  Should young kids read books written for older kids/adults? Even if younger kids enjoy reading books originally written for an older audience, are these wonderful books spoiled for them in later years because they’ve been read ‘too early’?

A friend of Edward’s, a girl who’s a couple of years older than him, recently read and adored Tolkein’s ‘The Hobbit’. I can’t remember how she came to this book but she suddenly had a strong desire to read it and her mother chased around Bahrain to find a copy (boy, would I do that too if my son expressed a strong desire to read a particular book!). Just before we went on holiday, Edward heard from her that ‘The Hobbit’ is a great story. He heard from me that a movie of it was being released soon. He really wanted to watch the movie. His immediate default position was to want to watch the movie rather than wanting to read the book. Well, he is a 7 year old boy after all I guess! The deal is that he can watch the movie after he’s read the book. This was also the deal with the Harry Potter series, but he was a bit younger and so I read the books to him, then he watched the movie. I’m dying for him to go back to them though, to want to read these books alone. I think he’ll love them even more.

Whilst we were on holiday, Edward watched a trailer of ‘The Hobbit’ on ‘You Tube’ and his interest in it exploded. He bugged me and bugged me to get the book for him. I didn’t think a copy in Dutch was what he was after so he had to wait until we got home! Whilst he waited impatiently, I waited anxiously lest he lose interest before I got a chance to get a copy into his hands. But as thrilled as I was that he was keen to read a ‘more challenging’ book, a classic book, like ‘The Hobbit’ (regardless of his slightly impure literary motives!) and a book with even more challenging, even more classic sequels, the ‘Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy – I worried that he wasn’t ready for Tolkein. But if his slightly older friend had enjoyed it, even though she’s a girl and therefore stereotypically more mature, he might A) also have the reading ability to do so alone and B) enjoy reading it. BUT even if I was right about A and B, SHOULD Edward be reading ‘The Hobbit’, let alone any of the ‘Rings’ books? Does it spoil an older child/adult’s enjoyment of really good books (and I include ‘Harry Potter’ here) and classics, if they read them (or have them read to them) when they’re very young? Why might this be the case?

A 7 year old boy is obviously not going to ‘get’ ‘The Hobbit’ in many, many ways because he just hasn’t had enough experience of life. But Edward’s really enjoying it. The absolute best measure of this is when he suddenly sits down to read it, entirely unprompted. These days, I never make my son read anything but I do prompt him to do so, for example by saying ‘Would you like to read your book now?’ or ‘When you wake up before everyone else, could you read for a bit?’ and strewing all sorts of books around. If he doesn’t take the bait, I don’t push it. But even though I’m delighted that Edward’s really enjoying ‘The Hobbit’, choosing to read it without any encouragement, I worry that I’m going to spoil really great books like these for him in the future.

Am I too focused on wanting Edward to read more and more challenging books, as long as he enjoys them, at the expense of these books being fully appreciated/learned from in the future? I believe really good books and so-called ‘classic’ books are one of life’s greatest pleasures and provide some of life’s most valuable lessons. I don’t want to spoil that for him. Equally though, if he wants to read these kinds of books won’t they improve his vocabulary, his spelling, his ability to craft his own stories, immeasurably? As an unschooler, I love the idea of this happening without worksheets or Susan Wise Bauer writing programmes! I love the idea that reading and enjoying great literature results, over time, in great literacy! It seems almost too easy to be true! But I hear that’s the case over and over again; voracious reading often results in voracious writing or at least competent writing. The more literary the reading, the more literary the writing.

I’ve talked to a few friends about my anxiety and none of them share my fears, or ‘over-analysis’ as one friend put it, i.e. worrywarting! They all say that they have read a particular book at different stages of their lives and enjoyed it each time, for different reasons, getting more and more from it as they got older. None of them thought that knowing the story from when they were younger spoilt their enjoyment of the book when they were older. None of them thought that only understanding half the book or understanding it superficially spoiled their enjoyment of the book when they re-read it years later. Perhaps this is because some missed certain crucial aspects of the story when they were younger, because they were too young to understand its more subtle nuances, and so when they re-read the book the story was actually quite a bit different from the one they remembered and so the book felt almost new to them. But everyone said, knowing the story correctly or incorrectly or only partially understanding the book, didn’t impact their enjoyment of the book whatever age they came to it again.

The book that introduced me to this dilemma was ‘Charlotte’s Web’ by E. B. White. By the way, can you believe they made a video game of it? My God, is nothing sacred to those gamers 😉 I think most people would agree this is a book written for children but I think probably older than age 7 (boys especially should probably come to this book when they’re a bit older, when they have perhaps developed a greater appreciation or at least understanding of e.g. altruism/self-sacrifice).

I had a free copy of the author reading his book, unabridged, on CD. We listened to it on long car rides in the Netherlands. My kids, especially my son, really enjoyed it. As soon as we got in the car he’d say, “Mum, can we listen to Wilbur’s story?” But at the end, when so many people I know sobbed and sobbed, he seemed totally unaffected. He didn’t talk about the story and I didn’t want to try and push a deeper understanding of it by trying to explain things further. Instead, I decided that I would introduce the book to him when he’s older and see if he’ll be more affected by it then. BUT won’t the impact of this wonderful story be lessened because he now knows the ending? He won’t be reading it, in the dark as Wilbur was, about Charlotte’s fate. Wouldn’t it have been better to have never let him hear/read ‘Charlotte’s Web’ until I thought he might be ready to cry at the ending – or at least be deeply affected by it?

When I’ve talked to friends they seem nonplussed about my worries. They don’t seem to think knowing the ending will affect his enjoyment of the book in the future. So why am I still racked with anxiety that I’ve spoiled not only this book for him but future others like ‘The Hobbit’, by introducing them to him too early? I’m especially surprised by my anxiety because I can’t remember having any book spoiled by reading it too early. I remember my father reading ‘The Wind in the Willows’ to me as a child at around this age and not enjoying it because I hardly understood what was going on, but when I recently tried this on CD for the kids, it again left me cold, so I don’t think that was so much a matter of being introduced to it too young but the wrong choice of book at any age!

One reason I think Edward wouldn’t enjoy ‘The Hobbit’ as much now as he would when he’s older is because he’s not yet ready to read a book almost in one sitting, which I think increases its enjoyment exponentially. There are few things I enjoy more, few things I find more relaxing, than thoroughly immersing myself in another world, especially a totally different, fantasy world, and this is best achieved by reading a story almost in one sitting (l like watching TV series on DVD like this too. I finished Series 2 of ‘Downton Abbey’ in 2 nights. I’m tired now from the late nights but it was delicious!). Yes of course, when Edward’s older, he could do this with ‘The Hobbit’, but since he’ll know the story will it be as compelling as if he’d come to it as a Hobbit virgin?! Worse, if he ends up enjoying but not loving the book will he bother to pick it up again, even though he might absolutely adore it when he’s older? The only comfort I have is that since I never MAKE him read, he’ll only ever read a book that he’s enjoying really quite a lot, so hopefully he WILL pick it up again, and hopefully again and again, when he’s older..and older still – having that wonderful pleasure of being totally immersed in it, reading it almost continuously over a day or two, putting the rest of life on hold, stopping only for the necessities.

A few months ago, when I’d just started homeschooling and was EVEN more insecure than I am now, I felt compelled to follow the lead of many homeschoolers I was reading about and introduce my son to children’s classics like ‘Treasure Island’. Having read a few pages of ‘Treasure Island’ in the library, I didn’t expect him to read, or even have read to him, a book like this in its original form, so I borrowed an abridged version (and abridged versions of a couple of other ‘harder’ classics, ‘harder’ in part being defined by whether the first few pages of the original made my eyes gloss over!)  When I told a friend I was doing this she was absolutely horrified! She felt I was spoiling the classics for him. She said he should come to the originals when he was ready, because classics aren’t just about stories, no books are, but about the language they’re written in, the way the story is crafted. Shamefaced, I totally agreed with her and will never have abridged books in my house again!

BUT when IS the right time to introduce the classics in their original form, or more challenging ‘really good books’? Is one prerequisite for a child to be ready to read them for himself? I read ‘Harry Potter’ to Edward. He absolutely adored it (but I stopped at ‘The Order of Phoenix’ – the story was getting very complicated and more age in-appropriate I felt, as the books’ characters became older themselves). Should he only have entered the magical world of Hogwarts once he was old enough to read the books for himself? Have I spoiled ‘Harry Potter’ by introducing it too early, far too early if he couldn’t even yet read it himself? Edward was keen to read ‘The Hobbit’ of his own volition, and unlike ‘Harry Potter’, can now read it alone BUT should I have said he had to wait a few years until he was ready to read it ‘properly’ to avoid ‘spoiling’ it for him later? How is ‘properly’ defined or ‘spoiling’?

I hadn’t got the answer from friends. I was still feeling uneasy about my decision to let Edward at both ‘Charlotte’s Web’ and ‘The Hobbit’ (let alone ‘Harry Potter’), so I turned to the internet for answers. I read a couple of interesting posts here and here  but I STILL don’t feel I have a satisfactory answer: I am not persuaded that knowing the story already, meeting the characters when you’re very young, doesn’t spoil a book when you come to it later. Yes, I realize a book is about more than its plot. But shouldn’t these wonderful books be put into one’s hands when we’re ready for them? How do we know when our kids are ‘ready for them’?  This is the hard question.

Certainly, a vitally important aspect of being ready for a particular book is when we’re able to enjoy it. Young readers must not be put off reading by being, in the slightest bit, forced to read. Gently nudged to, encouraged to, yes. But they must not be forced to read one particular book even if their friends enjoyed it or however worthy it is. In fact, they must not be forced to read anything. Forcing kids to read is a recipe for disaster I think. When we’re older, we can easily force ourselves to read both for knowledge and, interestingly, for pleasure. As you get older you learn that sometimes you need to persevere with a book because ultimately it will be a great read. I wonder if my son’s having the opportunity to read a bit beyond his years, whilst enjoying it, will help with this. For instance, ‘The Hobbit’ and the two Narnia books he read must be somewhat challenging. I’m sure he persevered with them because he wanted to watch the movies but then he found he enjoyed reading them. This seems a useful life-lesson, to read books that stretch him initially but ultimately lead to satisfaction.

For the time being my policy will be that as long as Edward is happily reading something, anything, that is great. I don’t make my son read anything anymore. Forcing him to read killed any enjoyment of reading for him. I forced him to read from anxiety-that-my-son -had-to-keep-up-with-other kids-at-school sickness (the school were sick with this too, the teachers infected me I think!) Homeschooling cured me of that nonsense! Over the last six months, since we started homeschooling, my son has recovered at least an enjoyment of reading if not, as much as I am desperate for it, a love, a passion like mine, of reading. But it’s only been six months of ‘free reading’, so it’s not bad going, and of course he’s not me and may never have a passion for reading and the time may come when I have to accept that. But I won’t assume it’s not possible (because we’re told boys are rarely avid readers, especially of great literature). Edward adores stories and all the experts say, if kids love stories, with the right approach, which I think I have now, including not forcing reading, all kids will come to love reading. Fingers crossed!

For now, unless I am persuaded otherwise, I will allow Edward to read, within reason, whatever he’s interested in reading and hope that for some reason, that I don’t understand, knowing the story in advance, reading a book on a superficial level, doesn’t spoil a book when you come to it later in life. Having said that, I will no more allow him to read some books, as watch some movies, if I don’t think they’re suitable (the definition of suitability varies widely between families but I’m pretty clear on what this means for us). The book that’s discussed quite widely in this context on the internet is ‘The Hunger Games’, given not only its explosive popularity as a book but also its recent release as a movie. A quick google search threw up this for instance. I will be avoiding it, given my aversion to violence.

What do you think? Am I right or wrong to let Edward read, providing it’s suitable, anything? What’s your policy on introducing the more challenging ‘good books’ or classics to young kids? If it’s been successful, how do you go about it? Do you find reading more challenging books TO your kids helps with their literacy as much as if they read them alone? Comments PLEASE and make them as long as you like! I am in a real quandary about this! I HATE feeling like I’m a bad mother, a poor homeschooler, however well intentioned, especially when it comes to a personal passion of mine; reading and writing!!

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IF YOU’RE NEW TO HOMESCHOOLINGMIDDLEEAST, welcome! I highly recommend that you start reading from ‘Day 1’. The fastest way to access this is to look for ‘Archives’ on the right hand side of the home page, click on ‘February 2012’ and scroll down to the bottom of the page that opens. If you want a quick first visit, you could type a term e.g. ‘socialization’ or ‘university’, into the ‘Search’ box or of course you could just read my latest posts without doing anything!

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About homeschoolingpenny

Hi and welcome! My name is Penny and I used to live in Bahrain but In November 2012 moved to Dubai and now we live in Granada, Spain! If you want to contact me my email is pjmontford@hotmail.com. I recommend you start my blog on 'Day 1' but please enjoy whatever you dip into. 23 February 2012 marked the first day of no more school FOREVER for my two kids. Edward, who is nearly 10 had attended a variety of schools since he was very little. Petra, who is now 6, has never gone to school. On this date we decided Edward was never going back to school and Petra never would go to school. We hope to successfully homeschool from this day forward, although we would consider an alternative school as an option- if there was some amazing Sudbury or other really alternative school. Actually, I prefer the term 'home learning' than 'homeschool' because I don't like to think of school coming into our home. In fact, I hope to go further and guide/learn alongside, rather than teach, my kids using the 'unschooling' philosophy to instill a lifelong love of learning in them. We lived in the Middle East and now Spain all of which are very challenging places to home educate. This is an exciting journey that I used to blog about regularly, at first it was on an almost daily basis. Please join me on our travels and I hope we might be able to help each other out along the way. I certainly hope I can be a source of support and comfort and, in time, knowledge to all potential/presently participating homeschoolers/home educators/unschoolers. Good luck to us all! If you want to read about why I started home educating, why I pulled my son out of a 'very good' private school mid-term, how I felt at the very start and how my philosophy has evolved, please start from 'Day 1' of the blog. Please do post comments at the end of any days that you read. Your opinion is valuable and it's great to start up debate amongst other people commenting too, however old the post. Thank you for visiting homeschoolingmiddleeast.
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15 Responses to Should Younger Children Read Books Originally Written for Older Children/Adults, Providing they’re Suitable? Month 6 of Learning at Home

  1. I would say you do have to be careful. Fortunately, JRR Tolkien is pretty mundane stuff compared to contemporary authors. Even YA authors can approach “the line” in some regards. YA books tend to put children into very responsible roles and in adult situations, like choosing who lives and who dies.

    Even as an adult I have enjoyed a number of Brian Jacques books. Imagine “Animal Farm” but as a very well evolved series of novels. http://www.redwallabbey.com

    At some point, Watership Down & Plague Dogs by Richard Adams might be explored. Those are pretty advanced; maybe age 11-12 🙂

    • Thanks so much for the ideas. Wow, ‘Watership Down’, that was a killer for me but yes, so, so important, when he’s a bit older and Animal Farm, not just a story about animals! I guess the Jacques series won’t be either. I’ll have to re-read ‘The Hobbit’ quickly. Maybe I’m worrying unnecessarily about that particular book but the issue will come up sooner or later about what is suitable I think 🙂

  2. lifelibertyeducation says:

    You are not only over thinking the correct age to read books but over thinking what any one individual should take from a book. Allow him to read it now if he is interested and enjoy it on his personal level. There is no need to dissect every story/book that one reads. In fact for some of us it actually ruins the experience of the book. This is one of the paradigm shifts that is needed to truly unschool I think. My opinion though so take it or leave it.

    • I agree, books don’t need dissecting a great deal (although I actually loved doing this at school). But, I don’t think a paradigm shift is needed, in this regard, if one unschools because I don’t think it’s a schoolish thing to do just because schools do it a lot and can do it very badly/forcefully/in a boring way that spoils the book for the readers. I think it’s a perfectly unschooling thing to talk about a book and what else it might mean, if the kid is interested in doing so but only to the extent they are interested. To some extent you could argue, what’s the point of reading eg Constant Geographer’s suggestions, ‘Waterside Down’ or ‘Animal Farm’ if the reader simply sees it a story about animals and not also on another level about the cruelty and folly of humans. But, other books could be enjoyed on different levels now and later – well, I’m hoping so 🙂 But I thank you for your warning, I will be very careful should we have book discussions and ensure that whatever he takes from a book is left intact and respected.

  3. Joy says:

    Hi Penny,
    My son is a good reader and reads a few years over his age group. Jake is bored reading his own age group, so he reads older books but I try and scope out what is new and suitable before giving him options. I think a classic like The Hobbit will be re-read several times over the years so it doesnt matter what he misses now. I’m more concerned with content, so reviewing a book is key. There are lots of older classics out there that are still fantastic, so good luck.

  4. Karuna says:

    Hi Penny, I happened to read your post today on the MIB page at a time when i too have been struggling with the same question of what are the age and time appropriate books for our kids. I have an almost 7 yr old girl and she has a sudden curiousity to read the Archie comics because she saw her older cousin reading the same while they met on vacation. To my mind, Archie comics are certainly something that I would forbid her to read at this age but then again I have been wondering what is that I should introduce her to it which she would enjoy. As soon as she could start reading by herself, I had introduced her to Enid Blyton and similar stuff but for the past few months she just doesnt seem to enjoy them as none of her friends read any of that .While I understand that kids these days dont relate to characters in Malory Towers and find books like Enchanted woods only for babies, I am at a loss to find books for my kid that are both age appropriate and can be enjoyed by her. She has been a voracious reader and I would hate it if she lost her interest in reading now. Would love to know from other parents what they let their 7 yr olds read?

    • Hi Karuna, thanks so much for your feedback. I don’t want your child to lose her interest either! I know how much I want my son to be a voracious reader so I can appreciate how much you want her to stay that way!!

      It’s really hard if our kids’ friends/relations are reading or watching things we don’t find appropriate for our kids. As you know, we just have to explain that the decisions we make are right for us and that other families’ decisions don’t change ours, although we’re always open to debate (wish we weren’t sometimes though!!) and be firm.

      Yes, let’s see if we get any suggestions for good reads for 7 year olds. I was really surprised that my son wasn’t interested in ‘The Secret Seven’ but is loving me reading ‘The Name of this Book is Secret’ series – but he wasn’t ready to read that himself, whilst he is ready to read ‘The Hobbit’ alone. Interesting.

      Can I recommend that you pop into ‘Words’ Bookshop and Cafe in Budaiya with your daughter, calling in advance to check that one of the owners is there too. I’m sure they’d be delighted to show her a range of possible books and see if she’s interested. They have a great kids’ section and are very knowledgeable. I’d love to have their opinion on this issue too!! Good luck, Karuna and keep me posted please!

      • Tracey Marshall says:

        Hi Penny,
        I have also read your post today as a result of MIB. My 7 year old son is also an avid reader and has been since a young age (I am delighted in his interest as my 15 year old son hates reading!). I also find it extremely difficult to find suitable books for him – I think it may be even more difficult for boys – and am constantly seeking books that challenge him yet are not inappropriate. Certainly school – both here and in the UK has not given him the challenges or breadth of reading that I had hoped telling me that they couldn’t push him to his capabilities as they did not have the resources to do so!! I have not been in Bahrain long and it may be my ignorance but I find the lack of a library and the price of books here also prohibitive. Having to spend an extortionate amount of money on a book that is “too easy” and is read in 2 days is difficult to swallow sometimes.

        I must admit that I had not thought to give him the “classics” to try and may consider doing this – perhaps re-reading some of them myself to decide which are appropriate.

        It would be great to see if anyone does come up with some challenging and age appropriate books for our 7 year olds. I will continue to read your posts with interest now I have discovered them.

        Tracey

      • Hi Tracey, great to hear from you. On a practical note, I buy a lot from bookdepository.co.uk – FREE delivery to Bahrain and good prices!! There is also .com but it’s the same price and I feel bad environmentally for the books to cross the Atlantic when they could come from Europe! Sometimes, I must admit, I might see a book in e.g. Virgin and go home and order it on bookdepository but I do buy books from Words Bookshop and Cafe in Budaiya because they actually have books that are not always available on bookdepository. Perhaps we could start a book club for our kids with Karuna?? We could start with ‘The Hobbit’? I am very happy to host it. I thinjk us mothers will be reading quite a few books in the next weeks and months to check them out before handing them over.That should be fun 🙂

  5. Rana says:

    A very interesting article, Penny, and a topic that I think most parents, including myself, struggle with. It really is an amazing gift to have a child that loves reading in this age of electronic bombardment and it is such a thrill every time we hear little feet pounding up the stairs at Words. I do think its important to have read or at least skimmed through books that your child wants to read if they do seem to a bit too old for them but other than that I think children should be given free rein. How wonderful to have Edward want to read something like the Hobbit and enjoy it without it being forced upon him as required reading material at a later age and hating it!

    Karuna, please come visit us at Words and see if you can find something for your daughter. Our books are arranged by age group so it makes it a bit easier to find something for her to start off with. I wouldn’t be too worried about what she picks, as long as she’s enjoying it, because it will plant a seed. My son started off his literary life with Captain Underpants and moved on to Roald Dahl very easily (although the toilet humour in the BFG, one of his favourite books, may have helped a lot!). He’s not quite at the stage where he’s requesting the Hobbit, but that’s ok …. There is an interesting site called Common Sense Media for parents that reviews childrens books and movies that you might find helpful http://www.commonsensemedia.org/ but it really all comes down to your own judgement at the end of the day ….

    • Hi Rana, I think that’s great advice – thanks so much for it. I have just suggested to Tracey that perhaps we start a book club for kids around 7 years old. I am happy to host it, perhaps starting with ‘The Hobbit’ – I should have added AS LONG AS the kids are interested in this book/or any other for that matter but hopefully that goes without saying given my belief in learning being 99% child-led! I think I’m going to enjoy re-reading some old favourites and some new ones just to be sure they’ll be OK for Edward 🙂

  6. Karuna says:

    Hi Penny, the idea of a book club sounds great, pls count me in. I should be reaching back to Bahrain early september and will now onwards follow your blog so do let me know when you plan to have it.
    Rana, I will definately be visiting the store once i am back, I have a deal with my daughter that allows her to buy 2 books of her choice each month and its always a challenge selecting those books between her and me:), I think we will be heading to Words next month onwards.

  7. First, I am not likely to ever censor our girls reading choices. I was reading Stephen King at age 11. I know what I pulled from his books then. I, personally, cannot read his books now because I find them too dirty (language, sex), yet I never noticed as a kid.

    Our girls are ages 18mos, 4 years, and 5.5 years. We recently finished reading ‘the Hobbit’ to them – they all loved it. Did they get the same thing out of it that I got the first time I read it? Probably not. But then I doubt you got the same thing out of it that I did. We’re currently finishing up ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’. We talk about the book to certain extents, but certainly not to find a deeper meaning behind it. Rather to see if our girls comprehend what’s happening. The books use vocabulary different than we use daily, plus there are many events taking place in the story, that they have no previous knowledge of.

    I really don’t care if they ever find a deeper meaning in any of the books they read. I want them to enjoy reading. If I impose certain books on them, or refuse to allow them to read books of their choosing, they’re less likely to deeply enjoy reading. When I read, I notice themes, and meanings, but my DH doesn’t. As such he’s more likely to enjoy books that I don’t, but he still enjoys the books I do. The ability to pick apart a work of literature really isn’t going to make any impact on my children’s lives unless they choose a career that for some reason requires it.

    Personally, I love books. I enjoy books so much more than movies. If I read a book first, I’m not as likely to enjoy the movie. There are few exceptions. For this reason we don’t make our girls wait. However, we have a good understanding of our girls’ ability to handle different levels of violence, and darker subjects. Our oldest watched ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’ last week. There was no concern at all. There were only 2 scenes where she seemed even slightly nervous. However, our middle girl would have asked us to stop the movie. We explained to them that sometimes a movie is less scary if they already know what’s going to happen, so reading the book first might help. We read ‘HP and the Philosopher’s Stone’ before the movie for this reason – but that was also last year.

    I think you’re expecting your son to grow up showing enjoyment in the same way you do. What if, no matter what you do, he never feels compelled to read a book in one sitting? I really don’t think it would be because he was allowed to read the book when he was younger. It seems a lot of your concern comes from how you view books. He didn’t cry at the same part as you, it doesn’t matter. He is at a different life point than you are. He doesn’t have years worth of baggage piling onto one small scene in a book. INstead it’s a moment in a story. The way he takes in a story might be different than your own, but it isn’t wrong. You say one of life’s greatest pleasures is a classic book. It may be for you, but not for everyone. I come from a family of ‘readers’ yet I’m the only one of my sisters likely to pick up certain books at all, let alone finish them.

    Which brings me to something else you said (can’t find the exact quote) that persevering through a book brings enjoyments – as well as: “Certainly, a vitally important aspect of being ready for a particular book is when we’re able to enjoy it.” On both counts I disagree. I’ve pushed through books, and I’ve discovered after doing so enough times, that if I don’t like the book by the end of the first (maybe second) chapter, it isn’t worth reading. If the only reasons I’m reading it, is to say I’ve read it, then I’m reading for the wrong reason. Throughout your post you talked about a cognitive ability to understand the book, to see the deeper meaning. That if you had that, then you’d enjoy the book. I, personally, find this flawed. There are many books I understand, I get the deeper meaning, but I detest. One such book I did not finish, titled ‘Felicia’s Journey’. Had I finished the book, I wouldn’t have liked it any better – the very subject matter made my skin crawl.

    If your children express interest in a book, let them read it. If you haven’t read it yet, read it too. Then talk about it. I’ll use your example, ‘The Hunger Games’. I haven’t read it, and my children aren’t exposed to media so aren’t likely to request it, but let’s say a friend mentioned it and they decided they want to read it as well. I’d let them (in my case we read the books out-loud), but at some point when we weren’t reading, I’d ask questions about the story – what’s happening? What are the character’s names, what do they do…? THe more information my children seem to get from the book, the deeper I can question – And most importantly, do they like the story? We can talk about what they expected the story to be about, how that compares to what it really is about – and how they feel about it. It’s okay to stop a book if you’re not enjoying it. Yes, there’s a lot of violence – but then there’s a lot of violence in LOTR, HP – what’s the difference? Talk about that too. Not reading it, not talking about it doesn’t make it not exist.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should read that book, just that what you find enjoyable and entertaining will not always be the same as what your children find entertaining.

  8. shaema imam says:

    Overheard as my husband read Tom Sawyer to my 7 year old: “the olden days were funny!” . I am not against the hobbit if the child brings it up, but i would prefer to introduce books where the protagonist is around my child’s age, eg, Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Christopher Robin in Winnie the Pooh (the original version), Pinocchio, (original one! ) about a young boy and his relationship with his father…, Le Petit Prince…

What do you think? Please do let me know. I would love to hear your opinion!

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