In Which Literature Captures Us and We Read Great Classics…

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 FinnRobert 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?

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

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12 thoughts on “In Which Literature Captures Us and We Read Great Classics…

  1. Oh, I loved reading aloud “Little Women”! I too had an old copy that I never read past the first two chapters as a girl. I’m quickly discovering how many wonderful classics I missed out on too. Just bought a paperback copy of “Hobbit” from the library book sale and I’m thrilled to hear your review of it! Perhaps this will be our next read-aloud! Thank you for including the book on Mark Twain, I recently purchased one of his autobiographies.

  2. Wow! Those are SOME great books! When it comes to literature, I am finding that the classics and award-winners seem to be the most enjoyable, thought-provoking books for us! Some of the newer books are wonderful too, but it sometimes seem like their quickly published and mostly have the same “feeling”. Even my 12-year-old loved listening to me read aloud Winnie-the-Pooh last year! LOL

  3. Looks like a lovely literature filled week. I grew up ready lots of good literature–most likely because my parents were older and classics were what filled our home library. Reading aloud time was a family tradition when my kids were younger, but has kinda gone by the wayside as my kids have gotten older. I plan to work on that this school year and bring back our read aloud time.

  4. Reading classics to my kids has been one of my very favorite parts of homeschooling so far. I’ve loved sharing some of my favorites from childhood (who knew that two little boys would *love* The Secret Garden?!) as well as getting to wade into ones that I missed. And I love it that my kids say things like, “That’s odd!” and “I’m fond of cookies,” and other phrases that are clearly a result of our reading! *grin*

    • Love that with the phrases! I know it’s not a classic but my kids are all over the “cheese touch” from diary of a wimpy kid and they get super excited whenever they see a piece of real swiss cheese with holes in it!

  5. Stopping by from the HMJ – I agree with you that the language of classic books is so much richer than a lot of the modern stuff. Too many modern books are “dumbed down” Even my boys enjoyed “Little Women” when I read it aloud a couple of years ago (though they’d probably not admit it!) and we’ve also enjoyed Mark Twain, Jules Verne, GA Henty, and of course CS Lewis as read-alouds.

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