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Just William

(19 Posts)
MrsSteptoe Mon 06-Aug-12 11:27:40

Has anyone else found that the Richmal Crompton books, while absolute bliss and joy for me, are quite a tough read for a 9 year old? Or has my DS just performed a Confundus charm on his teacher to achieve what I thought was a perfectly respectable end-of-Y4 reading level of 4B?
When we really come down on a word-by-word basis to the vocab, I find there are heaps of words he doesn't know - and some of the sentences bog him down a bit as well, with lots of subclauses and elegant but complicated constructions.
It's quite possible that my experience is not uncommon, so would be interested to know how others have found these books - particularly when reading them at the same age - he's starting Y5 in September. On the other hand, maybe he needs a bit of a shove.
Interested in your opinions.

MrsBovary Mon 06-Aug-12 11:32:50

I'm sure your experience is not uncommon. But my eldest daughter read them at a similar age; loved the books, found them hilarious and revisited them many times.

MrsSteptoe Mon 06-Aug-12 11:57:18

Thanks, MrsB!

Clawdy Wed 08-Aug-12 19:17:57

They're wonderful stories,but you are right,they are a difficult read,and rather long. I've read lots of the stories to year 5 and 6 classes,and they love them,but I shorten them.Sorry,Richmal!

CowboyBob Thu 23-Aug-12 13:00:18

I loved Just William when I was a kid.
My sister got into it when she was 9 yrs old but like your son I found it tough and was about 11 when I got through my first one.

The style of writing can be hard.

amck5700 Thu 23-Aug-12 13:06:32

I bought my son a box set and despite him being a really keen and accomplished reader, he couldn't get into them at all, he was the same with the famouse five etc type books too. Think it is the language - I ended up giving them away.

vesela Sat 01-Sep-12 14:28:03

'"In the matter of sweets, William frankly upheld the superiority of quantity over quality. Moreover, he knew every sweet shop within a two miles radius of his home whose proprietor added an extra sweet after the scale had descended, and he patronised these shops exclusively."

followed in the next couple of paragraphs by ostentatiously, rotatory, moustachios, languishing and picturesque rustic attire.

I see what you mean. Great for expanding vocabulary, though! I think I must have been a year or so older when I read them.

Clawdy (or any other teachers about) what are the best ways of helping children understand the meanings of new words from context? I've been googling for this, out of interest (we live abroad and I'm teaching DD to read).

I can imagine that personality comes into it, too. Some children don't worry as much and store the word away to make more sense of it next time, while others want to know what it means this instant.

DisorderlyNights Sat 01-Sep-12 17:38:09

My 10 yr old and 8 yr old really like them, but are history buffs and, from their discussions, seem to picture them as horrible history type scenes as they read. We talked about the period and setting before they started.

For those of you who loved them yourselves, Richmal Crompton also wrote adults fiction. Family roundabout is published by Persephone and I really enjoyed it.

Clary Sat 01-Sep-12 17:41:21

Oh my gosh yes!

Almost impossible for a primary age child imho tho people always post "my 7yo loves these" hmm

I read them out loud to DD (11) and DS2 (9), both good readers, and I have to explain what loads of words mean, and even then I miss bits out.

Also the whole concept - hats worn to school, garters, maids, darning - lots of stuff that was in the past for me is in the Dark Ages for the DC. Very hard to get their heads round.

DisorderlyNights Sat 01-Sep-12 17:47:01

Some children just don't mind a lot of it going over their heads, I think Clary. Mine don't understand it all, but often ask my DG (their great gran) and she explains bits. They find the funny bits genuinely hilarious though, I hear things like "LEMON SOAP BWAHAHAHA" from DS's room when he re-reads.
Also, the fact that they're short stories lends themselves to modern kids who don't like a lot of build up.

Clary Sat 01-Sep-12 17:49:12

Sorry disorderly my hmm wasn't aimed at you! blush

I agree, some kids don't mind skimming and working out from context. There is a lot of that in William tho.

My reading out loud plan is also good as I cherry pick - some of the stories (eg the one where William makes a room full of food appear and then later chases the bull) are magically brill, others disappointing (like when it all goes wrong sad)

DD can always work out what's going to happen grin

DisorderlyNights Sat 01-Sep-12 19:47:12

No worries Clary, I didn't think it was a dig.

I've just remembered what got my oldest DC interested in JW was this Audiobook. We listened to it in the car, and talked about it a lot.

vesela Sun 02-Sep-12 19:46:05

I hadn't realised that most of the stories in the first book were actually written for adults. That would explain it (and also why e.g. his father is at home from work with a headache and a touch of liver). Reading "More William" (it's online at Project Gutenberg) I can see the vocabulary is slightly easier - still a good sprinkling of words that would probably be new to a 9-10 year old, but they come slightly less thick and fast.

I taught DD (5) "picturesque rustic attire" yesterday. We'd just been to see a lot of folk dancing, so it kind of fitted in.

BreconBeBuggered Tue 04-Sep-12 15:47:35

Yes, many of the stories (up to 1954) first appeared in magazines aimed at adults, such as Modern Woman and Home Magazine, and were subsequently published in book form. My 9 year-old DS can read the words but doesn't have much interest in the intricacies of the text. There were a few editions published specifically for younger children by Macmillan, but I found them a bit lacklustre and I've no idea whether they're still in print.

drjohnsonscat Fri 07-Sep-12 16:24:41

I got the audiobook for my 5 year old to listen to on a long journey. I knew the books were far too complex but she might like the story, told by a good narrator (she likes stories about naughtiness - reads Pippi obsessively). This approach worked for Wind in the Willows (more naughtiness) and she loved it so much we read the book together (with me skipping some of the more mystical bits). She loved it.

But the Just William story went over her head. I think she just couldn't follow what was going on. Obviously she's 5 not 9 but I agree that the sentence construction is sometimes willfully difficult. FWIW I never liked Just William myself but thought she would. I thought he was a pain - perhaps that's contributing to OP DS's finding JW hard work? For the age of the OP's DS, Jennings and Darbishire were the ones for me. Looking forward to doing that with DD in a few years.

Jusfloatingby Mon 01-Oct-12 16:28:12

My nephew is a voracious reader, but even at 11 he has no interest at all in the William books. I think they just don't appeal to a lot of modern children any more, for some reason.

Themumsnot Mon 01-Oct-12 17:45:41

None of mine really enjoyed reading them but they all loved the audio books and also the TV series, which was pretty well done I thought.

madamehooch Mon 01-Oct-12 20:14:46

They do an abridged series called 'Meet Just William' for younger readers which may suit. They've been adapted by Martin Jarvis.

Welovecouscous Tue 30-Oct-12 19:34:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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