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Best Dickens to start a child on.

(33 Posts)
Moominsarehippos Sat 06-Apr-13 14:31:40

I have the whole lot. Not sure which is the best to start a 9 year old on. take of Two Cities, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist...

It's been donkeys since I read any Dickens and not sure i can remember all the plots. Has anyone any thoughts?

YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Wed 26-Jun-13 07:28:50

I can't believe the number of philistines on this thread not liking Dickens! shock wink

YoniSingWhenYoureWinning Wed 26-Jun-13 07:27:30

I read Oliver Twist at 9. Maybe Xmas Carol would work too for a strong reader.

LondonMother Thu 06-Jun-13 20:55:11

PS I read David Copperfield when I was 10 and stuck with it to the end. A Christmas Carol might be an easier start - it's certainly a lot shorter.

LondonMother Thu 06-Jun-13 20:53:14

Dickens turgid? Good grief.

Here's a bit from the the opening of Bleak House:

<<London. Michaelmas term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln's Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill. Smoke lowering down from chimney-pots, making a soft black drizzle, with flakes of soot in it as big as full-grown snowflakes—gone into mourning, one might imagine, for the death of the sun. ......

Fog everywhere. Fog up the river, where it flows among green aits and meadows; fog down the river, where it rolls defiled among the tiers of shipping and the waterside pollutions of a great (and dirty) city. Fog on the Essex marshes, fog on the Kentish heights. Fog creeping into the cabooses of collier-brigs; fog lying out on the yards and hovering in the rigging of great ships; fog drooping on the gunwales of barges and small boats. Fog in the eyes and throats of ancient Greenwich pensioners, wheezing by the firesides of their wards; fog in the stem and bowl of the afternoon pipe of the wrathful skipper, down in his close cabin; fog cruelly pinching the toes and fingers of his shivering little 'prentice boy on deck. Chance people on the bridges peeping over the parapets into a nether sky of fog, with fog all round them, as if they were up in a balloon and hanging in the misty clouds. >>

It probably helps that I live in London and love walking the streets here. I find that one of the most evocative pieces of writing about London I've ever read.

I probably wouldn't have given it to a pre-schooler, though. grin

madmomma Thu 06-Jun-13 20:36:45

Yeah Oliver Twist I reckon. Certainly not David Copperfield or Great Expectations. And agree that A Christmas Carol would be great nearer Christmas. My wonderful late Dad used to read Tolkien to us when we were 7 & 9 and we hung on every word. Those are some of my happiest childhood memories. Young children can absorb complex texts and plots at a young age and get lots of enjoyment from them even though they don't understand it all. It doesn't have to be Dickens or Captain Underpants. Both have a place - that's what loving books is all about isn't it?

maree1 Tue 07-May-13 23:57:12

Oliver Twist gets my vote. A Christmas carol is better nearer the season. A master of metaphors and every other part of speech you will be able to begin to discuss together the wonderful images the man was able to conjure up with the words he chose.

Moominsarehippos Sat 06-Apr-13 18:59:19

And turgid is such a lovely word. I don't find it tedious at all.

bigbuttons Sat 06-Apr-13 18:49:49

Christ Dickens is turgid reading.

TunipTheVegedude Sat 06-Apr-13 18:44:58

I loved Dickens by 10 and started with David Copperfield. When my parents gave me some money for passing the 11+ the first thing I bought was a set of Dickens. TBH, though, I think it had quite a bit to do with the BBC Sunday afternoon teatime adaptations, which were 1/2 hour episodes and very accessible. Dombey and Son was a good one, too.

CockyFox Sat 06-Apr-13 18:37:01

I love reading but I have never got past the first chapter of a Dickens book.
I read Black Beauty at about that age though.

ATouchOfStuffing Sat 06-Apr-13 18:33:27

Would this suit to start?

SolomanDaisy Sat 06-Apr-13 18:27:06

Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby or David Copperfield I would say. They're shorter than most and the child central character should make it more accessible. Anyone who thinks Dickens is depressing hasn't read it properly. Pickwick Papers is probably the one which has almost no darker content, very gentle. I find Dickens extremely soothing, but didn't really learn to appreciate it until I studied it.

I think the only one actually aimed at children is A Child's History of England, not sure how much fun it is though.

MsAkimbo Sat 06-Apr-13 18:08:08

I think it's great OP. But, I was a very morbid child. wink

Nicholas Nickelby might be good?

Moominsarehippos Sat 06-Apr-13 16:52:50

He read part of a Christmas Carol at christmas. It was a very old version I have that had belonged to my father when he was little. Dickens means a lot in our familyn so excuse me when I ask what and not if. My earliest memories are of my parents reading to me, and dad was especially fond of Dickens. He reads a lot and reads above his age.

tiredemma Sat 06-Apr-13 16:00:25

I love Dickens. By age of 9 I had read Great Expectations and Oliver Twist I think.

23balloons Sat 06-Apr-13 15:58:55


23balloons Sat 06-Apr-13 15:58:17

Ds started secondary in Sept & had to read A Chritmas Carol. He was struggling so I read a few pages for him& found it unbearable. It is not something I would read for pleasure but I like fast paced fiction. Each to there own I guess.

piprabbit Sat 06-Apr-13 15:56:44

I'm 43 and have never been able to finish a Dickens novel - despite loving and devouring almost all literature.

Maybe find something else to read and try an audio book version of Dickens to start?

Tee2072 Sat 06-Apr-13 15:52:04

Dickens is crap. Read them something worthwhile and non-depressing instead.

Inncogneetow Sat 06-Apr-13 15:51:07

* editions

Inncogneetow Sat 06-Apr-13 15:50:49

I read drastically edited editins of Dickens when a child/teenager. I was astonished as an adult to encounter the endless, turgid real thing. I read widely and extensively and cannot imagine anyone wanting a 9 yr old to read Dickens.

My ds1 is 15 and is an avid reader: still reads about 5 novels every week! But he's never read any Dickens for pleasure, and I wouldn't recommend that he does.

iseenodust Sat 06-Apr-13 15:16:08

I had read most of Dicken's books before secondary school. The local library put me on to them as I was clearing the children's section faster than they could stock it (probably as old as Sleepy's mum) and my grandmother had let me try Mills & Boon & Georgette Heyer! If I picked up an 'inappropriate' book at the library they would put it to one side to check with my dad. A childhood in a small community. grin

Moominsarehippos Sat 06-Apr-13 15:11:08

Oops on the thread!

My late father loved Dickens and he read them to us when we were little. I'd like to see DS have a try (in a swird way, a link with his grandpa). He's read the kids version of oliver twist and enjoyed it. I don't want to put him off by suggesting something very dark. He's read Kidnapped, and will read pretty much anything going.

MsAkimbo Sat 06-Apr-13 15:01:01

I read a Christmas Carol at 9. Does your dc want to read Dickens?

I clicked on this thread amazed that a preschooler is reading Dickens.

sleepyhead Sat 06-Apr-13 14:57:30

What about trying Robert Louis Stevenson (Kidnapped or Treasure Island), or Leon Garfield (Smith or Dead Ned), or Joan Aiken (Midnight is a Place, Wolves of Willoughby Chase) if you want that Victorian/historical background - all have pretty scary bits in them though if I remember rightly so it depends on the child!

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