Tuesday, January 31, 2006

What to read to your kids

Claudia asked for read-aloud recommendations on the very day I found this article in The Guardian: Guardian Unlimited Books | Special Reports | What the top writers say every child should read:

While most of what's here is way too ambitious to read aloud to a five-year-old, I'm intrigued by Philip Pullman's choices. "He did nclude The Rime of the Ancient Mariner among his choices - recalling that it had been a 'mesmerising' experience when a 'wise and far-seeing teacher had, without explaining anything about it, read it aloud to my class when I was about seven'.

Pullman's list has at its heart fairytales, myths and legends as the great stimuli to children's imaginations. Another recommendation, which does not appear on his list, is Kipling's Just So Stories 'for the wonderful rhythms and rhymes and the muscular strength of the language. You don't understand everything as a child but you love the sound of it. Children respond very immediately to the musical rhythmic effects of language.'"

I have never really read poetry to my kids, other than Edward Lear and James Marshall's nonsense stuff. But why not? I'm also intrigued by the Kipling suggestion: I loved the Just-So Stories as a kid, and they seem entirely appropriate for a precocious five-year-old, but you may want to pre-read to check for occasional offensive stereotypes. Or just read them and then talk, which is something we've done a lot as well.

Read the whole piece, or just scroll to the bottom for the lists. Oh, and Rowling is right: Roald Dahl! (Though, again, some very questionable ideology here and there, like those happily-enslaved Oompah-Loompahs. Sigh.)

4 comments:

Claudia said...

Wonderful! Thanks! Yes, we've read the entire Dahl collection and are working our way through Moomintrolls but these are good. I'm not sure I'd read To Kill a Mockingbird - that might be something for her to read to herself - and savor - when she's a bit older. And, I have some of those old Grimm fairy tales (which can be gruesome) and the color fairy tale books - Pink and so on. They raise interesting questions in her mind that allow discussions about history such as why are there so many stepmothers and why are they so often mean? Thanks Libby.

Becca said...

We listened to a tape of Just So Stories years ago on a long car trip and it was great.

Mrs. Coulter said...

I loved Just So Stories as a kid. I am totally mystified, however, but one of the other authors, who recommended Ulysses as required reading for children...

Libby said...

Ulysses for kids is just too weird. Even high school kids, which is what he means, I think. And yes, To Kill a Mockingbird is a read-to-yourself--too frequently killed, unfortunately, by eighth-grade English teachers.