Monday, December 31, 2007

A Dickens Of A Time Getting A Child To Read

West Bank Mama writes about an article in The New York Times about Scholastic's post-Harry Potter new approach on how to get children to read--and gives her opinion on why she thinks "tricking kids into reading" is not going to work.

This evening I had my own plan to get my 8 year old daughter interested in reading. My parents got the (very) abridged version of a handful of classics--including Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist. The abridged version was about 10 pages. I read it to her and this evening, before she went to bed, I started reading her the actual novel.

I forgot about Dickens' style and the fact that since he was paid by the word...he tended to be a bit verbose:
Among other public buildings in a certain town, which for many reasons it will be prudent to refrain from mentioning, and to which I will assign no fictitious name, there is one anciently common to most towns, great or small: to wit, a workhouse; and in this workhouse was born; on a day and date which I need not trouble myself to repeat, inasmuch as it can be of no possible consequence to the reader, in this stage of the business at all events; the item of mortality whose name is prefixed to the head of this chapter.

For a long time after it was ushered into this world of sorrow and trouble, by the parish surgeon, it remained a matter of considerable doubt whether the child could survive to bear any name at all; in which case it is somewhat more than probable that these memoirs would never have appeared; or, if they had, that being comprised within a couple of pages, they would have possessed the inestimable merit of being the most concise and faithful specimen of biography, extant in the literature of any age or country.
After 5 minutes, my daughter asked, "Abba--did you start the story yet?"

"I think I'd better think it out again."

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Soccer Dad said...

Has she read Harry Potter yet?

Daled Amos said...

For a while my wife and I were reading it to her, but she lost interest. We have a friend whose son finished off the series last year--in 2nd grade.

He's reading C. S. Lewis now.

On the other hand, while discussing with him whether he thought Harry Potter would be killed off, I suggested that even if the character was killed off, the author could be forced to bring him back, just like Sherlock Holmes.

His response: Who's Sherlock Holmes?