Monday, November 17, 2008

Thoughts on Classics for Kids

I've written before about the simplified versions of classic literature, intended for children (but am too lazy at the moment to dig up the post).

In doing research this week for homeschooling supplies (now that he's FIVE *gasp* I feel I must start more formally and in earnest), I stumbled across Shakespeare for children, and started thinking about this topic again and wondering how on earth anyone can be against such a wonderful tool.

And I came up with an analogy.

When Dylan was new, no one in their right mind would have dreamed of feeding him carrot sticks. He didn't have any teeth, didn't have any clue about chewing even if he'd had them, and he would have choked.

But carrots were so good for him. Should he wait to enjoy carrots until he had all of his teeth? Could he not benefit from them and enjoy them?

Of course he could. No, he couldn't experience the wonderful snap and the crunch of a raw carrot, but there's more to a carrot than the snap and the crunch. He could learn to like the taste of a carrot, and benefit from the nutrition.

And so we pureed them. And he loved them, of course. It didn't make them NOT carrots. It just made them age-appropriate carrots.

Now he is older, has some teeth, but he still can't handle raw carrots. He doesn't need them pureed, however. Now he can have them steamed.

And in another year or so, he'll be ready for small pieces of raw carrot. He'll already know and like the taste, and be primed for the snap and the crunch of the "real" thing.

So it is with literature adapted for children (keep in mind I am not referring to children's literature - a whole other matter). Yes, it's simplified; some might even call it "dumbed-down." But I have to wonder why that is a bad thing. Can they not benefit from literature even from the youngest of ages? Can literature not grow with the child? Can we not instill appreciation in our children at an early age?

Yes, I read to Ethan above his age (as I think we all should, frankly), but even I am not going to try to make him sit still for Dumas or Hugo at this age. It would be ridiculous. He would "choke."

I know that I am preaching to the choir here, but I wanted to throw yet another argument-in-favor onto the pile.


Kerrie said...

Oh how did I miss this post Ami!?
THANK you, brilliant!

I've also encountered the taboo of mentioning age appropriate literary adaptations in some highbrow homeschooling circles. I guess my own 5 year old will never be in Mensa because right now she definitely lacks any appreciation for Hamlet in it's original, unabridged glory. :-P

Now here's a loaded question, what do you think about this same topic as it relates to scripture?

I'll 'fess up my view first. :-)
I believe my younger children do well starting with "Children's Bibles" (Which is different from "Bible Stories", I'm sure you know what I mean!)
I often wonder if all those who say The Word can't be accurately translated or abosorbed if it's carefully written for a child's comprehension are reading their own Bibles from scrolls written in Greek and Hebrew! ;-)

Mommy said...

You know, I have to say that "younger" translations don't bother me the way they seem to bother some people. Mind you, I'm not talking Bible Stories either, or even paraphrases, but an actual translation. I have no problem with them. Right now Ethan is using CEV.

LOL @ the Greek and Hebrew comment!