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Is it worth reading new children's books or should we choose classics only?

(28 Posts)
liankian Thu 23-Nov-17 12:19:38

I was wondering what other parents think about this when choosing books for our young children.

Should we try to limit them to 'classics' only. It means mostly books that were published a long time ago and are generally considered 'being good'.

Is it a good way to educate our children?

NewtsSuitcase Thu 23-Nov-17 12:20:45

no, that would be ridiculous.

IJoinedJustToPostThis Thu 23-Nov-17 12:24:14

There are plenty of wonderful authors writing for children today (Michael Morpurgo is one of my favourites, sure others can add to the list).

A lot of the classics are not very accessible to children now - the world has changed so much that huge amounts of the stories need explaining. Still worth a read, but modern writers are probably easier if you're trying to encourage independent reading for pleasure.

purits Thu 23-Nov-17 12:25:41

It's not either/or.

Include modern books but first vet have a read of them yourself.

liankian Thu 23-Nov-17 12:30:34

Very interesting and useful thought, especially when you pointed out that some 'classics' are not actually appropriate anymore.

raisinsarenottheonlyfruit Thu 23-Nov-17 12:32:24

Absolutely not!

I'm trying to teach my children a love of reading, good literature and learnign in general. We seem to have done that well with DS (8) (DD too young to read indepemdently.) He's got his nose in a book a lot of the time. He reads a range of books, modern and classics. Heavy weight (for his age) and light weight.

We buy books for him that we love but also we wouldn't restrict his reading to any on ekind of book - that would be interferring with his autonomy as a reader, and surpressing his enquiring mind. Not that wayto teach a love of learning!

A lot of the classics are not very accessible to children now YY to this. Some o them use language and concepts that are very of their time and are inaccessible to a modern young reader.

steppemum Thu 23-Nov-17 12:39:03

lots of amazing books that weren't around when I was a kid. Not just brillinat stories, but for you ger children, gorgeous pictures, and also dealing with themes that are very current.

I actually find most classics pretty bad reads. I have read out loud a lot of kids books to mine (now aged 15, 12 ad 10) and it is rarely the classics which grip their imagination. I think many of them write is a less direct or obvious way. There is a lot more inference expected from the reader. That isn't a bad thing in terms of comprehension, but it doesn't bring the story to life.

dcs school did a big push on the classics, and we had a suggested reading list. I am a governor, and I did have aquiet word with the head, after dd and I struggled through Huckleberry Finn, which is totally unappropriate for children, is littered with the n word, and is written for the most part in dialect hmm

Even Enid Blyton has a lot of things in it which need explaining (maids and servants etc). We have original versions of famous five, but after reading some of them with dc1, I did remove one book.
I actually think it is good for kids understanding of the world to read the original books, even when not pc. They themselves are often shocked/puzzled and ask for explanations. But some books really need to be read with cuation, and probably alongside an adult. The Famous Five book which I removed had a whole load of stuff about a circus in it. There was a 'pet' gorilla, and then a man who was constantly and casually compared to the gorilla. Yes, the man was black. I didn't feel that was appropriate even with explanations.

LadyinCement Thu 23-Nov-17 12:41:41

Sorry, what's this "accessible to children" business? Limiting a child to its own experience only is... at best daft and at worst a patronising attempt to censor the past.

Plus, of course, you'd have to burn (and ban) countless books if you were to comb through and find "offensive" bits.

Also reminded of when I went in local library and asked if they had a copy of All Quiet on the Western Front. The librarian looked it up and snorted, "Oh, it's an old book. No, we don't have old books any more." She seemed quite proud about this confused

steppemum Thu 23-Nov-17 12:42:08

ironic that on a thread about literature my post is full of mistakes and sounds incomprehensible in parts.
I blame rubbish fingers

raisinsarenottheonlyfruit Thu 23-Nov-17 12:43:37

Childhood classics DS has enjoyed recently include

The whole Narnia series and Swallows and Amazons - he loves this, and the film too (the old one).

It was interesting that the modern film had to make the DC a lot older - I guess otherwise people would have spent half the film thinking but where are their parents, why are the DC on their own! Why isn't anyone bothered / calling SS?!)
That didn't detract from DS's enjoyment of the book in any way though, he just wished he had as much freedom!

Modern books he's loved recently:

Harry Potter (of course!)

Phillip Pullman His Dark Materials series - a modern classic IMO

Voyage To Magical North . I can't tell you how highly I rate this book. It's such a brilliant adventure, it's one I read to DS (usually he reads alone) as I just kept on wanting to find out what happened next! It has a girl as the main character, and a boy as her "sidekick" and it's just so inventive and well written. Much as DS loves Harry Potter, it's when you read something like that that you appreciate how well crafted good children's literature can be.

One of the really great things about finding a good series that's still being written is the excitement when the next book in the series comes out smile

steppemum Thu 23-Nov-17 12:45:51

Lady - while I agree children should have access to all books, at some point, when too much of the story involves things outside their experience, they simple cannot follow it. That makes it inaccessible.

I have read quite a few of those out loud, by adding emphasis etc you can often get past some of the comprehension issues, and you can explain along the way.
But there are definitely some books that just don't work any more.

example: as a kid I adored the Joan Aitken series - starting with Wolves of Willboury Chase. My kids won't read them, and recently I re-read them.
They are so dated, that the stories just don't work really.

raisinsarenottheonlyfruit Thu 23-Nov-17 12:49:00

Sorry, what's this "accessible to children" business?

What's not to understand?

DS reads a wide range of books. But sometimes he comes across one he finds inpenetrable and he just can't get into it as a resut. It's usually an older boo. It's not onlyhard to read because the language is not what we would use today but also because it talks about objects and concepts that just aren't used today.

An example for us was "Just William". DS just couldn't get his head round what it was about! I tried reading it too him, but had to explain so much of the old slang and what was going on, it wasn't fun to read.

A friend recently said her DD enjoyed it though, so maybe I need to try again.

I've never read them myself by my mum loved them when she was young and she wanted to share the experince with him.

steppemum Thu 23-Nov-17 12:49:17

another example: Just William.
great stories, but the text is really dense and they need reading out loud, with the odd explanation along the way

TossDaily Thu 23-Nov-17 12:49:47

Oh my goodness, there are so many amazing novels for children being published at the moment.

Katherine Rundell, Frances Hardinge, Sarah Crossan, Michelle Paver, Matt Haig, Derek Landy, Patrick Ness...just a few of the writers that are writing thoughtful, exciting, well-crafted prose for young people.

steppemum Thu 23-Nov-17 12:50:08

x post raisins!

overmydeadbody Thu 23-Nov-17 12:50:49

It's just ridiculous to think you could somehow just limit your child's books to'classics'and that would be beneficial?!?!

I am fuzzy about books, especially picture books, but there are loads of amazing ones that are new.

I weed out books with bad grammar (like the Mr men books) and all boring stories (books about TV characters or programs for example)

raisinsarenottheonlyfruit Thu 23-Nov-17 12:51:38

overmydeadbody grin Sounds like you got further than us!

raisinsarenottheonlyfruit Thu 23-Nov-17 12:54:34

Oh yes there are some amazing new picture books! I must admit I love children's books from my childhood, but also - just look at this! When was the last time you saw a picture book so beautiful? I think it's stunning.

The Fox and The Star

eddiemairswife Thu 23-Nov-17 13:05:13

I used to dip into various classics at my Grandma's (no TV then). I remember reading Uncle Tom's Cabin, because our milkman called me Topsy. I really enjoyed Little Women, and was disappointed when my eldest granddaughter wouldn't read it, because a character in a Jacqueline Wilson book didn't like it.

Witchend Thu 23-Nov-17 17:36:42

An example for us was "Just William". DS just couldn't get his head round what it was about!

Interesting, because ds loved Just William a few years ago. He was absolutely in hysterics at some of the things. I didn't have to explain much at all. he has a preference for older books, but not usually that old. He's currently re-reading "Swish of the Curtain" series.

IMightMentionGriddlebone Sun 26-Nov-17 10:34:18

Sure, restrict your child to only reading vintage children's books. But only if you're willing to take out any double-glazing in your house and replace it with single panes of glass, replace your current car with a 1960s era Hillman Imp, and get rid of your tumble-dryer.

Old does not mean better. If you're going to propose keeping your child in the literary past, surely you won't be adverse to inflicting the same upon yourself in everyday life? wink

Brayie Wed 29-Nov-17 20:05:24

If you just bought old books that would mean new authors like myself wouldn’t get a look in......
Mammoot Lost In Time is a funny, exciting tale with a hint of danger and a twist you wouldn’t be expecting, try it and I’m sure they will love it.....

topcat2014 Wed 29-Nov-17 20:08:11

DD has read the whole of harry potter, and loves David Walliams books, and also Robin Stevens.

All new, or at least the last 20 years.

No need to live in the past

Ttbb Wed 29-Nov-17 20:11:04

It's easier to just stick to the classics but there are some really great contemporary authors out there like Jon klasson and lemony snicket. You just have to take the time to search them out.

nooka Wed 29-Nov-17 20:34:48

I read my children a mixture of books I loved as a child and new books I found since. I think that there are a lot of great writers to chose from so no need to put in arbitrary restrictions. Also we all have different ideas about what our children might enjoy or find difficult or off putting. For example I read a few Joan Aitken's to my children and they went down very well. On the other hand I stopped reading the Narnia series to them because they were just too sexist for me to stomach. I can't imagine choosing Enid Blyton to read aloud because they are badly dated and were formulaic even in their time. We've read and enjoyed modern writers, but I stopped reading Harry Potter to them because I found them badly written and so didn't read aloud very well. So I think it's very much each to their own.

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