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#1 AngieC

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 02:23 PM

I'm just wondering how others feels about reading shortened versions of the classics to their kids. My daughter turned 5 about a month ago and loves to read. We've read a lot of lengthy stories and I found the Young Illustrated Classics version of The Secret Garden and read it to her and she loved it -- we've read it 3 times now. Additionally, we have the Great Illustrated Classics version of Heidi that we just finished and she has already requested to re-read it.

Am I making a mistake reading these rather than going for the full version? We do read some long books, but it's books along the lines of the Ramona series or Homer Price -- nothing that is both long and complex. We tried Anne of Green Gables (the long version) and quit after a few chapters as I think it was just oo much for her.

Would I be better off reading shorter, easier classics for now? She has enjoyed these shortened classics that I've read so much that I'm tempted to run out to the used book store and see what else they have. Am I just over-thinking this?

Thanks for any advice!

Angie
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#2 homeschoolally

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 02:36 PM

opinion about that for our homeschool--possibly because my oldest remembers EVERYTHING. I don't want him to know what happens in the book by reading the abridged version early on, because I don't think that leaves him much motivation to plod through the unabridged version when the time comes.
Obviously that doesn't apply to all kids, but I think its something to consider. Getting through the unabridged version is tough work, and when the time comes I want him on the edge of his seat--willing to get through the difficult text--to find out what happens in the story.

#3 hscherger

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 03:07 PM

I think it is a-ok!

My hope/goal for having my kids read age appropriate versions of classics is that when they meet the "real thing" they will have enough of an understanding of the plot and characters that it will eleviate the fear of reading challenging literature.

My 8 year old son just read a younger kiddos version of Les Miserables and LOVED IT!!! No need to wait for the teen years to love Jean Valjean :D

#4 Aurelia

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 03:10 PM

I prefer to use the unabridged classics because I have read a number of them, so the abridged versions are distasteful to me. Anne of Green Gables didn't go over so well here, either, but Ariel LOVED Black Beauty (she's an animal lover and a bit horse crazy). Slightly easier books like Raggedy Ann Stories or James Herriot's Treasury for Children are good intros. This year I'm hoping to get to Pinocchio, since that seems like something she would enjoy. The Charming Classics (the books with the necklaces) are good motivators for my daughter because she gets a new necklace when we finish the book.

#5 nmoira

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 03:53 PM

With few exceptions, we do not use retellings. The exceptions are myths, legends, folktales, epics, etc. -- works for which knowledge of the story is more valuable and using a retelling is far more practical (for youngers) than experiencing the original text, and nothing based on a work more recent than Don Quixote.

I'll very occasionally use abridgments or skip over some text: Swiss Family Robinson and a couple exceedingly tedious passages of Heidi come to mind. Typically, however, I read my kids original, unabridged literature at their listening level, and I don't see the need to do it any other way. Why would I want to rob my children of the delight of experiencing great works for the first time with no foreknowledge of the plot? Certainly not so I can claim they are "educated."

#6 Trixie

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 03:55 PM

I have yet to come across an abridged version of a children's classic that hasn't turned a wonderful, complex story into pap. We wait until the story is interesting enough to ds that he's willing to look up or ask about words and concepts which are new to him, or we read the story aloud together. Pausing to define/explain and an animated reading go a long way toward making complex ideas, storylines, and sentence structure comprehensible even for littler ones.

#7 Heather in WI

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 03:56 PM

For that age, I think it is perfectly fine! My boys loved that series of books!

The Well-Trained Mind actually encourages this because it familiarizes students with the classics, they fall in love with the stories, and therefore they are not frightened away from them when they are older.

#8 Veritaserum

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 04:25 PM

I use adaptations for some books during Grammar Stage. I think it's a great way to introduce a story. In Logic and Rhetoric they will revisit those stories in the original text with the advantage of already knowing the gist of the plot. :)

With some books I just use the original. Recently we've read unabridged, original text editions of The Secret Garden, The Blue Fairy Book, and Little Women. Whether or not I use the original or an adaptation depends on how accessible the original version is for little ones.

#9 jewel7123

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 04:50 PM

I personally follow the Charlotte Mason way of thinking on this and read and purchase only unabridged books. The shorter, abridged versions could be considered "dumbed down" or "twaddle" so I avoid them.

#10 Caribbean Queen

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 05:15 PM

I am no genius and I went to a lousy public high school and even I am not afraid to read classic literature. I don't think to myself, "I am afraid to read Oliver Twist. I better read the children's/abridged/picture book version first."

I plan on my children developing the background knowledge, vocabulary and reading skills necessary to read any literature - not just the books that they already know the plot of. We started with me reading children's literature aloud. My son has started to read classic poetry. He'll move on to reading chapter books of greater and greater difficulty, eventually reaching adult classic books.

I have accidently ordered an abridged book, and my mom sent us one, and I went ahead and read them aloud, but using abridged books isn't a part of my homeschooling plan.

#11 Laura Corin

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 05:41 PM

I decided to avoid abridged books, except for stories where there was not one canonical version (myths, for example), where it was unlikely that my boys would read the original (non-Christian household, so unlikely to read the full version of Pilgrim's Progress) or Shakespeare (wanted to introduce the story as a way of being able to maintain attention through live performances). Otherwise, we wait until the boys can read the real thing. There's so much great age-appropriate literature available that we haven't felt a need to read simplified versions.

Laura

Edited by Laura Corin, 09 October 2009 - 03:34 AM.


#12 Imprimis

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 05:51 PM

I really prefer to have my chldren read unabridged versions of books. If we find the original is too challenging or too involved, I will put it aside and wait until my child is ready to tackle it, or we'll read it aloud.

#13 AngieC

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 05:51 PM

I was secrectly hoping for someone to tell me that I am not going to forever damage my kids by allowing them to hear the abridged version of some stories. Part of my problem is that with my 3 year old running around all day, I just don't have enough time in the day to read extensively to my daughter (and while he won't sit through long chapter books, he will sit through longer stories with pictures). The minute I try to do anything with her, he is climbing all over me.

Aurerlia--We checked the James Heriot Treasury out from the library a while back and I just adored that book -- possibly more than my kids! (And that was one my son would pick up and ask me to read to him.)

I guess I will not stress about reading some abridged classics, but at the time try to find more of the full length versions that she enjoys. We did read The Wizard of Oz and Charlottes Web using the unabridged version and that went over well. I think where I went wrong was attemping Alice in Wonderland (because we were going to see the play and I wanted her to have some background) and that just failed miserably and then I started to doubt myself.

Thank you for all of your advice - it is great to see all different points of view!

Angie
DD5, DS3

#14 mom2jjka

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 06:21 PM

It depends on the book.
If it is intended for younger audiences :
The Wind in the Willows, Black Beauty, The Secret Garden, etc. then I prefer the unabridged versions, but if it is an 'adult' book with more mature themes, or if it is super long we will sometimes read the abridged versions (example: we are reading Ben Hur in the abridged version right now)

#15 Aurelia

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 06:31 PM

Alice in Wonderland was way over Ariel's head, too, so I've decided to save that one for a few years. Some that aren't quite so difficult to get into are the Betsy-Tacy stories and All of a Kind Family, as well as the Laura Ingalls Wilder and Roald Dahl books.

#16 2cents

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 06:35 PM

No abridged books for us. I figured if they wanted to read the book then it was worth reading it as the author intended it to be. :)

#17 LizzyBee

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 06:38 PM

My kids have gone on to read the unabridged version of books they particularly liked, and they've learned that the the unabridged versions are even better than the abridged versions. There is not enough time to read all the good/great books that are available, so I'm happy to have them read the abridged versions of some of them.

I agree with the previous poster who said that if a book is meant for a younger audience, we read only the unabridged version.

#18 LadyAberlin

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 06:42 PM

For me I don't like them. I don't like to read books twice, so if I read the abridged version, then most likely I'll never read the real thing. Same for if I've seen the movie then I probably won't read the book.

#19 Colleen in NS

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 06:55 PM

I was secrectly hoping for someone to tell me that I am not going to forever damage my kids by allowing them to hear the abridged version of some stories.


I don't think you will! I started off reading aloud abridged versions of some stories, esp. stories that I would definitely not read to them in original versions at young ages. Things like Pilgrim's Progress, Oliver Twist, Les Miserables, etc.. We found, nice, not-dumbed-down-stupid-sounding versions of these at the library, and my kids enjoyed them and read them to themselves. I am glad they will know the basic plot when they get around to reading the originals. I am glad *I* will know basic plots!! Those children's versions introduced some wonderful stories to *me,* who never read them before. Now the original versions don't scare me as much. At times, too, my daughter has read a children's version of a story, then has gone and pulled the original off our bookshelf to attempt, and enjoyed perusing parts of it (such as Heidi and The Secret Garden).

#20 NancyNellen

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 07:55 PM

We really don't do abridged versions here. I prefer to have my kids read most of them themselves when they are appropriate. At your children's ages there is so much great age-appropriate literature that would lend well to read-aloud times: Pooh, Mary Poppins, Peter Rabbit, Mr. Popper's Penguins, Peter Pan, Narnia, anything by McCloskey, Lois Lenski, etc...

I feel that I made that mistake with my older kids - trying to force literature upon them that they weren't really ready for, and missing so much wonderful, age-appropriate literature. Now that my oldest two are able to read practically anything, they gobble up the classics, many times reading well into the night because they can't wait to see what happens next.

Do I think you're making a horrible choice if you choose to read abridged classics? No. But, I believe my little ones are better served by reading copious quantities of the wonderful literature written for their maturity level and leaving the tougher, more complex stories for when they are able to comprehend them in their original form.

#21 Trixie

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 08:02 PM

I believe my little ones are better served by reading copious quantities of the wonderful literature written for their maturity level and leaving the tougher, more complex stories for when they are able to comprehend them in their original form.


:iagree:

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 08:03 PM

I'm just wondering how others feels about reading shortened versions of the classics to their kids. My daughter turned 5 about a month ago and loves to read.

Am I making a mistake reading these rather than going for the full version? We do read some long books, but it's books along the lines of the Ramona series or Homer Price -- nothing that is both long and complex.


Personally, I think the mistake is seeing value in moving on to the classics for older kids rather than finding age-appropriate books at your dd's current level of understanding. There is so much out there! Check out Honey for Your Child's Heart and The Read-Aloud Handbook for help finding some.

We tried Anne of Green Gables (the long version) and quit after a few chapters as I think it was just oo much for her.


See, now right here. The answer doesn't have to be to find an abridged version. The answer could just be to find some wonderful classic that is perfect for her now, in its original form.

Would I be better off reading shorter, easier classics for now? She has enjoyed these shortened classics that I've read so much that I'm tempted to run out to the used book store and see what else they have. Am I just over-thinking this?


I don't know about overthinking but is it possible that you're looking for more interesting reading yourself? I have very high standards for my kids' reading, as I'm guessing you do. Who is it (someone please tell me!)...a famous author of children's books... Someone said something to the effect that a good book is a good book, whether written for children or adults, that adults were just as likely to find pleasure in it. Argh! Can't remember but I believe it. There are wonderful books out there, chapter books even, for five year olds.

With few exceptions, we do not use retellings. The exceptions are myths, legends, folktales, epics, etc.

Why would I want to rob my children of the delight of experiencing great works for the first time with no foreknowledge of the plot?


:iagree:

The Well-Trained Mind actually encourages this because it familiarizes students with the classics, they fall in love with the stories, and therefore they are not frightened away from them when they are older.


I don't know if she intended this for all literature though, did she? Hmmm. I need to look it up. I know she said it for myths, Shakespeare and some things that others have mentioned. I didn't take it to mean as a sweeping OK. Could be wrong though...

I decided to avoid abridged books, except for stories where there was not one canonical version (myths, for example),

There's so much great age-appropriate literature available, that we haven't felt a need to read simplified versions.


Exactly my feeling.

I was secrectly hoping for someone to tell me that I am not going to forever damage my kids by allowing them to hear the abridged version of some stories. Part of my problem is that with my 3 year old running around all day, I just don't have enough time in the day to read extensively to my daughter (and while he won't sit through long chapter books, he will sit through longer stories with pictures). The minute I try to do anything with her, he is climbing all over me.


Could you have your husband read to ds3 while you read to dd5 at bedtime? We've split up reading at times. Those interested in the chapter book can listen to Mommy and those who want picture books go with Daddy. Doesn't work well when DH is deployed though. Don't know what your situation is. Is there something you can offer your son (something special or different, like Play-Doh or Legos) where you can supervise him playing quietly while reading to your daughter?

Good luck!

#23 Harriet Vane

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 08:10 PM

I have yet to come across an abridged version of a children's classic that hasn't turned a wonderful, complex story into pap. We wait until the story is interesting enough to ds that he's willing to look up or ask about words and concepts which are new to him, or we read the story aloud together. Pausing to define/explain and an animated reading go a long way toward making complex ideas, storylines, and sentence structure comprehensible even for littler ones.


:iagree:

If they are not quite ready for the unabridged version, just wait till they're a little older. There are so many quality children's books out there that I just do not see any point in hurrying through a dumbed-down version of a classic that an older/more mature child or teen could enjoy in its original form.

#24 Heather in WI

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 08:26 PM

The Well-Trained Mind actually encourages this because it familiarizes students with the classics, they fall in love with the stories, and therefore they are not frightened away from them when they are older.


I don't know if she intended this for all literature though, did she? Hmmm. I need to look it up. I know she said it for myths, Shakespeare and some things that others have mentioned. I didn't take it to mean as a sweeping OK. Could be wrong though...


From The Well-Trained Mind Chapter 5:

At the end of this chapter, you'll find a list of major authors for each period. Search in the children's section of the library for books about the lives of these writers and paraphrases of their works. We've supplied you with a list of some of our favorite resources: retellings of ancient myths, of the Illiad and Odyssey, of Shakespeare and Dickens. First graders who are working with the ancients can begin on the fairy tales of ancient China and Japan, stories of the Bible, myths of Rome and Greece, Aesop's fables, stories about Plato and Aristotle, and simplified versions of Homer. Susan and her husband, Peter, spent six weeks reading through a lavishly illustrated child's version of the Iliad with their six and four year old. Since the children hadn't learned to be frightened of the classics, they were enthralled and eventually put on a puppet show with their stuffed animals: The Fall of Troy, starring a stuffed bear as Ajax.
...

Don't be afraid to assign the child abridged and simplified versions of the classics. In grades 5 through 8, he'll cycle through the ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and modern eras again. If he's already read Great Expectations in a simplified form, he'll know the basic outline of the plot and won't be intimidated by the original.


I have found this already to be true with my oldest son. He read through many of the books in the Illustrated Classics series back in first grade, and already in fourth grade he's read through more than a handful of the originals on his own. He loves finding the 'adult' version of the story! In fact, it's quite a rite of passage in his eyes, I think.

#25 Strawberry Queen

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 08:27 PM

I have no problems with my children reading the abridged versions. I try to find the best ones possible but I live with what I find. My dd's have read the abridged version and then gone on to read the unabridged version as well. One instance is Treasure Island. They had the usborne book on tape edition from the library. They both listened to it and then my older dd saw that the original was on the shelf. She took it down and read the whole book.

For myself I like to have them read the abridged version because I don't want to spend my time reading mediocre lit out loud. This is a personal choice. Nothing bad would happen if I did read it out loud.:001_smile:

Reading retellings has also made me more interested in approaching classic lit. For instance, Black Ships Before Troy is a fascinating and wonderful book taken from the basic story of The Odyssey (I think that's the one?). My dd's *loved* the book when I read it aloud. They were 6 and 4. It gave me a basic outline of the story and I just might read the original at some point soon. If I hadn't read the abridged version it would have been another one of *those* books that would remain a mystery because I was too lazy to check it out. ;)

So there's my .02 FWIW

P.S. I do have some limits with abridged books, like having an abridged story of a picture book...Peter Rabbit comes to mind. I don't think there's much benefit to that, but that's my bias:D

#26 nutmeg

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 08:27 PM

Who is it (someone please tell me!)...a famous author of children's books... Someone said something to the effect that a good book is a good book, whether written for children or adults, that adults were just as likely to find pleasure in it. Argh! Can't remember but I believe it.


Sounds like C.S. Lewis:

"A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest."

and

"No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond."

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 08:42 PM

From The Well-Trained Mind Chapter 5:

At the end of this chapter, you'll find a list of major authors for each period. Search in the children's section of the library for books about the lives of these writers and paraphrases of their works. We've supplied you with a list of some of our favorite resources: retellings of ancient myths, of the Illiad and Odyssey, of Shakespeare and Dickens. First graders who are working with the ancients can begin on the fairy tales of ancient China and Japan, stories of the Bible, myths of Rome and Greece, Aesop's fables, stories about Plato and Aristotle, and simplified versions of Homer. Susan and her husband, Peter, spent six weeks reading through a lavishly illustrated child's version of the Iliad with their six and four year old. Since the children hadn't learned to be frightened of the classics, they were enthralled and eventually put on a puppet show with their stuffed animals: The Fall of Troy, starring a stuffed bear as Ajax.
...

Don't be afraid to assign the child abridged and simplified versions of the classics. In grades 5 through 8, he'll cycle through the ancient, medieval, Renaissance, and modern eras again. If he's already read Great Expectations in a simplified form, he'll know the basic outline of the plot and won't be intimidated by the original.


Thanks for looking that up. The way I read it though, it's still not applying so much to Anne of Green Gables as to books that are notoriously difficult reads (like the Iliad, the Odyssey, Shakespeare, etc.) even for some very educated adults. I guess I still don't see it as a go-ahead for a smorgasbord of abridged literature for five year olds. (Of course, I might have blinders on and just not want to believe that's what she's saying. :D) Obviously, it's up to parents which to choose. However, when asked my opinion, I stand by my position against abridged books.

Sounds like C.S. Lewis:

"A children's story that can only be enjoyed by children is not a good children's story in the slightest."

and

"No book is really worth reading at the age of ten which is not equally – and often far more – worth reading at the age of fifty and beyond."


THANK YOU!!!!! I've googled this so often, I'm ashamed to admit it! The first quote is the one I had heard but the second is just as good, and I completely agree. That was my point about finding books to read. There are some wonderful books written for my children's ages that I am absolutely thrilled to be reading--true literary works in their own right.

Edited by Alte Veste Academy, 08 October 2009 - 08:49 PM.


#28 Jumping In Puddles

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 08:52 PM

I like unabridged but I have read some abridged versions that really work. For example, DK Pinocchio is solid and IMO, the chapters are all kind of like short stories anyway.

#29 Cammie

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 09:03 PM

I have yet to come across an abridged version of a children's classic that hasn't turned a wonderful, complex story into pap.



I have to agree. I bought the whole Treasury of Illustrated Classics from Costco years ago because at the time my 5 year old daughter was reading everything I could get for her and I thought these would be better for her. The writing is terrible. It seems like they go through and remove all adjectives, adverbs and anythings else that makes a sentence interesting! I think with my son I will get the originals and read it with him.

#30 AngieC

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 09:12 PM

I don't know about overthinking but is it possible that you're looking for more interesting reading yourself? I have very high standards for my kids' reading, as I'm guessing you do.


Yes, there is definitely a bit of truth to this statement.

I'm starting to feel like I've done my time with picture books and I'm ready to move on (though I read picture books to my son on a daily basis). I've read a lot of picture books over the last 5 years -- my daughter is definitely a reader and would sit and listen for 2 hours straight from a very young age if I were willing to read for that long). I guess I don't have to jump from picture books all the way to the longer classics. There are shorter books we have read and both enjoyed (Family Under the Bridge, Five True Dog Stories & The Hundred Dresses from Songlight's K reading list)

I've requested Honey for Your Child's Heart from the library so I can get more ideas.

Also, my husband and I do split up bedtime reading, but that only amounts to about 20 minutes and my daughter chooses the book. Sometimes she will choose good literature and other times it's twaddle. She is open to my suggestions though.

Thanks for the great discussion.

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 09:21 PM

Yes, there is definitely a bit of truth to this statement.

I'm starting to feel like I've done my time with picture books and I'm ready to move on


:lol: Oh, I feel you here. I would say that 99% of our books are twaddle-free but I've been known to hide the truck and dinosaur books because I just can't take it anymore. DS6 and DS3 could listen to me name trucks and dinosaurs for hours when they were 2. On the bright side, my dino-pronunciation is quite impressive for a girl. :D


I've requested Honey for Your Child's Heart from the library so I can get more ideas.


I bet you'll just love it. Lots of gems in there. Enjoy!

#32 momto2Cs

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Posted 08 October 2009 - 09:33 PM

My kids have gone on to read the unabridged version of books they particularly liked, and they've learned that the the unabridged versions are even better than the abridged versions. There is not enough time to read all the good/great books that are available, so I'm happy to have them read the abridged versions of some of them.

I agree with the previous poster who said that if a book is meant for a younger audience, we read only the unabridged version.


:iagree:

For the most part, we do unabridged now - Alice in Wonderland, Chronicles of Narnia, etc. - but I did do a few abridged with them a couple years back. They got a great introduction to classics that way, and now they enjoy the real thing.

#33 Laura Corin

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Posted 09 October 2009 - 03:40 AM

I think where I went wrong was attemping Alice in Wonderland (because we were going to see the play and I wanted her to have some background) and that just failed miserably and then I started to doubt myself.

Thank you for all of your advice - it is great to see all different points of view!

Angie
DD5, DS3


It was not really designed for small children. The author was a mathematician and there's an awful lot of mathematics and logic in it, as well as wonderful word play. Both my boys enjoyed the books from about age nine onwards.

Laura


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