This week has seen a flourish of literature. As we study Mark Twain in the historical sense of post Civil-War and the invention of steamboats and the Mississippi River, we couldn’t very well not read Tom Sawyer! Gabe has been reading it on his own and we listened to parts of it out loud on audio during our table work time. The southern drawl and incorrect grammar has Gabe in stitches and even peeked Lily’s interest. We read two very fantastic living books about Mark Twain and practiced writing biographies. (Good language arts lesson!)
The Adventures of Mark Twain by Huckleberry Finn – Robert Burleigh
The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy) – Barbara Kerley
But I realize that literature has been the constant theme for our week. Delilah has been begging me to read Winnie the Pooh’s classic works to her, which I love to indulge. How can you not want to read it aloud? Any book in which every chapter is titled a very long title that always starts with “In which…”, I mean, what’s not to love?
Then there is Lily who randomly, completely out of the blue, brings me the book The Hobbit and asks, “Mom, what’s this book about?” After trying to explain she finally gets it (only because she saw The Lord of Beans veggie tale version) and now wants to read it. We have the whole series in paperback but also have one very nice larger picture version of the Hobbit. I pull this one out and start to read it aloud. Soon I have little people all around me listening and giggling. And I am thinking to myself, “Why have I never read these books? ” Yes, I watched the movie. It was okay (sorry all you die hard fans). But the book…oh wow. How the author just draws you in and hooks you conversationally. Elegant, no-twaddle, writing. A classic because it is just fantastic.
It spurred Gabe’s interest and he took the paperback version to bed (will be borrowing that soon myself) and Lily took the picture version to bed. Both have been reading it independently but I think I will also continue it as a evening family read aloud.
As I mentioned in a previous post, we have really lost the art of language in today’s books. I had such trouble in high school reading classical pieces but I believe it was because I was never exposed as a child to great language. Sure, I learned technical grammar skills and I was an avid reader. But classical language eluded me. It seemed foreign and much too hard to take the time to understand. How much I missed out on!
I remember getting a beautiful copy of Little Women (which I still have) one year for Christmas in junior high. I tried reading it several times. It was only when I allowed myself to read it aloud orally that the language flowed and I started to enjoy it. How I would’ve enjoyed reading Winnie the Pooh or The Hobbit as a child. I am so glad that it is I, a loving parent, who gets to expose and gently introduce these classics to my children and not some stuffy teacher who has taught the same 5 classics every year for 20 years and has lost the love of why it became a classic in the first place!
What has been your experience with the classics? And how has that shaped how you homeschool?