Monday, June 11, 2007

Good evening, friends, and welcome!

My ten-year-old read Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. In three days. Four years ago. And she understood it: I had a little tete-a-tete with her when she was done, and asked her some basic comprehension questions: "Who was Aragorn?", "How did Denethor die?", "Where did they meet a balrog?" "Who was the brown wizard?" questions like that. She got them all right. We won't let her watch the movies, but she's read the books.

And like me, she liked Tom Bombadil the best. I can never forgive Peter Jackson for completely ignoring the most interesting character in the whole story.

Last year, she wanted to read A Christmas Carol by Dickens. I gave her permission to read my Charles Dickens "omnibus": a single volume containing four or five of Dickens' novels. She seemed to be taking quite a while to read A Christmas Carol, so I asked her how she liked it. She liked it a lot; but she liked Hard Times better, and Great Expectations was good too, although A Tale of Two Cities was too depressing, so she didn't finish it.

She occasionally refers to Ames and me as the "A. P. s"

The hardest thing with having a bona fide reader in the house is, finding age-appropriate material. She loves the Redwall books by Brian Jacques, but he's not writing them fast enough. So now I scour used-books-stores, looking for the wonderful novels I read as a kid. I found a used copy of The Mad Scientists' Club, which was a wonderful find. We also found The Egypt Game, and a bunch of sundries I read as a kid. And I obtained a complete set of The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper in a single volume a few years back. My ten-year-old's put quite a dent in that too.

But the real treasure was this:

That, friends, is a partial set of Children's Classic Library. We had a set when I was a kid: I think they were a gift from Uncle Mel. At any rate, I've been slowly piecing together a whole set from various used-book sources.

My favourite volumes as a kid were: Arabian Nights, King Arthur, and Robin Hood. I don't know how many times I read "The Genie and the Merchant", or "The Man with Two Hinds". I loved that book. In fact, I read it through the other night, and it was everything I remembered.

Gift idea for clumsy: a complete, "adult" (i.e. not a kids') edition of 1001 Nights (Arabian Nights). Just a helpful hint there...

A lot of people are shocked to learn we don't have T. V. Sure, we can watch DVDs on the computer if we need to: and it's a decent system. Or at least, it's convenient enough to use, and inconvenient enough to not become a habit. But people always ask "What do your kids do?". Well, reading is high on the list.

And you know what? They seem to like it that way.

For my own part, I've tried to gather good kids' books from before we had any kids, or before I ever met my wife. It's nice to be able to walk into a library and have an idea what books and authors my kids will like. Frankly, it's nice to know I got at least one thing right...


Gwen said...

The books... sweeeeet.

clumsy ox said...

Gwen, I chose the blog post title just for you!

Shan said...

Speaking of the title, a couple of months ago I was in Ctny and heard Mr. Pelling pray...It took me right back. I was 14 again, sitting in Elim counting the invocations.

uberstrickenfrau said...

De-lurking here- have you read any of Nancy Farmers books? I like her style of writing for young adults.I also the Goose Girl and Enna burning, they are a retake on a fairy tale. We don't have a TV either. But I'm begining to think that the computer is getting way to much time.Oh, and check out the Wind singer books, my girls ate them up!

Gwen said...

Mark - I like the title - but did you hold all four fingers together, and crink your thumb back so creepily that your observers shuddered?

The Family Jewels said...

My husband and I do foster care, so for most of the kids it is a sulture shock when they come into our house and the t.v. is not on constantly. We have one in the basement and one in my studio, but no cable and the only time that it comes on is Friday nights for 30 minutes per child to play a video game and Saturday nights to watch a movie all together as a family. The one in the studio is strictly for my use to listen to a movie while creating. We listen to all kinds of music (appropriate only of course) and the kids are learning that they have an imagination and a lot of fun can be had with the open ended toys and games that we provide.

I love the picture of your old books and your loving description of your favorites. I also love to peruse the used book store, but it is mostly for old books that I turn into other works of art.

clumsy ox said...

The Family Jewels, I love old books. One favourite is my copy of Collected Poems by T. S. Eliot. Actually, I doubt that's the title, but it's something like that. It's a cloth-bound black volume, with a few people's names written on the fly-leaf, including mine. You can actually see the differences in people's hand-writing in the margins. In fact, when I first bought the book, I was tempted to call some of the phone numbers written under people's names, but I bought it in a university town, and those tend to be fairly transient.

I've also got a copy of William Kelly's Exposition on the Book of Isaiah from 1900. It's a little fragile, but I enjoy it.

I like my books to have several people's names on the fly-leaf. There's something interesting to knowing my books have histories.

Thanks for chiming in!

The Family Jewels said...

I probably shouldn't tell you, but I sometimes buy old books (not calssics) to tear out the pages and use them in my artwork. I try to justify it by letting it refer to my love of the written word. I have to say that my favorite book that mom or dad would read to me is Miss Suzy...I made a good score and found one in not so great shape at a second hand store and plan to use it for some pictures to hang in the nursery along with same other beautiful old color pictures with nursery rhymes on them that were read to my dad as a baby. I love the old Dick and Jane books and the illustrations are some of my favorites.

As a teen I LOVED Nancy Drew books and have been finding some of the old books and buying them up for some of our kids...we will have five shortly.

My husband and I just got a fostering call that could turn permanent on a sibling strip of 5 ranging in age from 1.5 to 10. God sure has a great sense of humor...we were praying for Him to build our family and He is giving us five!

Have you heard any thing about some books called The Peppers or the Little Peppers...they were recommended by a mom friend of mine who says that they are apparently great stories and very wholesome where the kids make a great impact on the story.

Happy book hunting!

clumsy ox said...

tfj, my daughters enjoyed Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. Perhaps that's the title?

The Family Jewels said...

Thanks! I am going to the store today to scavenge for new books!