Among other things, Alex and I have been slowly reading as many books as we can find from 1,001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up. About a year ago, I picked up a copy of Alice in Wonderland at our local library, not noticing until we got home that it was an abridged version. I almost set it aside in favor of finding a complete copy of the book. I am I ever glad I didn’t!
The abridged version was part of the old Great Illustrated Classics series. This series takes many of the old classics and writes them in a way that makes sense to children (perfect for a Third Grader)—not only are there illustrations on every other page, but the print is large, and the language is updated and simple to understand.
Alex so enjoyed the first few we read that he declared that we had to read every classic in the series. And that no one but Mom could read the classics with him!
I have to admit, a part of me felt that if he was going to read the classics, he should only read the “real” versions. But he really does love these books, and they are great introductions to the timeless stories that make these “the classics.” There’s nothing worse than being turned off from a book because you have tried to read the original unabridged version before you are ready. And I am confident that for those that he particularly enjoys, he will go back to the original texts when he is ready.
We just started the abridged version of The Three Musketeers.
Alex has been drawn into the story almost from the first page. Even though Alexandre Dumas wrote the book nearly 175 years ago, he found the perfect pacing for today’s nine-year-old boy. Stories of duels, a kidnapping, mystery, and intrigue leave Alex begging for more every night. He carries the book around the house hoping to catch me with a few moments to spare. (Of course, he COULD read it on his own—he chooses not to because he wants us to find out what happens together!)
The story also gives us a chance to talk about historical aspects of the book. We talk about the Bastille. We talk about dueling. We talk about who the Cardinal is and why he has his own guards. One thing I’ve learned as Alex has read books over the past few years is that when he learns things by reading stories, he remembers them very well. So we now have a basic understanding of French history in the early 1600s. What a fantastic perk from an already great book!
If you are interested in exploring the classics with your child, or if your child has asked to read one of the great stories of the past, I highly recommend starting in the Great Illustrated Classics. They are a great way to ease into this genre.
Have you read any great books lately?