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Is it a bad idea to read re-tellings of famous stories?


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Is it a bad idea to read re-tellings of famous classics? I have been looking at several of Geraldine McCaughrean's books such as The Odyssey, etc. for my ds. When he is older, I am hoping to have him read the originals of at least some of them.

 

Any opinions on whether this is ok to do or whether it is a bad idea in a WTM sort of way;)?

 

Any opinions on Geraldine McCaughrean's books?

 

 

I appreciate your help:)

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I don't mind reading re-tellings of stories to my younger kids....I actually find it very helpful...BUT, I make sure the re-tellings are very well written...retaining the flavor of the original as much as possible. I am not beyond watching animated versions of the stories either.

 

We loved Geraldine McCaughrean's books. They are very well written.

 

When the kids get older, they are not afraid to approach a translation of the Odyssey or Beowulf. My kids read books like these for fun! We are now reading Idylls of the King to all the kids. My younger ones are very familiar with King Arthur and Tennyson seemed to be the next step.

 

HTH,

Faithe

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We loved Geraldine McCaughrean's books. They are very well written.

 

When the kids get older, they are not afraid to approach a translation of the Odyssey or Beowulf.

 

Those are great for this age. We love them. Later on the Sutcliff version is great too. I do the same for Shakespeare too - there some some beautifully illustrated versions of Shakespearean plays turned children's story by Coville. There is also a terrific version of Ivanhoe in picture book form.

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For what it's worth....I'm 26 years old (plan to homeschool our kids someday - oldest is 18 months), and I've been working through giving my own self a quick form of classical education for well over a year now. I tried at first to delve into the originals...especially the greek tales...but they were just way over my head. I once thought my Christian private school education was a good one but I've come to realize there are many things it sorely lacked - a rigorous historical study and appreciation of literature being one of them. And I was valedictorian of my class and considered a "nerd" back then!

 

SOOOO...instead of suffering myself through the originals, I've been going through "kid versions" of the originals to introduce myself to the stories. It's really helping. I've read D'aulaires Greek Mythology book, Black Ships to Troy, and quite a few others. I even have some children's Plutarch and other children's versions of Livy, Herodotus, etc. coming in the mail this week. A few months ago, I read Charles & Mary Lamb's versions of Shakespeare and for the FIRST time in my life I finally understood what the stories are about - and it got me excited to finally read them in "real form". I think it's an awesome way to introduce a difficult piece of literature to a child. I plan on using this method with my own kids, irregardless of who else might suggest differently. :)

 

I can't wait to get the Beowulf version from Yesterday's Classics so I can finally learn what that story is all about too. (haha)

 

One thing I might suggest though is make sure your kids understand it is the "children's version" and somewhat "abridged". I use to devour those little classical illustrated story books from Walmart when I was young and didn't realize until high school that ALL of the classical books I grew up reading (Dickens, Verne, etc.) were nothing more than extremely simplified abridged versions. No one ever bothered explaining the difference to me and I never thought to ask....

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One thing I might suggest though is make sure your kids understand it is the "children's version" and somewhat "abridged". I use to devour those little classical illustrated story books from Walmart when I was young and didn't realize until high school that ALL of the classical books I grew up reading (Dickens, Verne, etc.) were nothing more than extremely simplified abridged versions. No one ever bothered explaining the difference to me and I never thought to ask....

 

Ditto. I grew up reading my mom's Reader's Digest Condensed Books. It never dawned on me to ask what "condensed" meant.

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As I understand it, the WTM approach is not to have the kids read "kiddie versions" of things they could reasonably understand themselves (i.e. don't "dumb down") but to read "retold" versions of books that are simply not appropriate for young learners.

 

For us, this means if we were to read Dickens, I would either give my dd an audio book, read to her myself, or wait until she could manage it. Shakespeare is a different story. We have begun with versions by Geraldine McCaughrean and E. Nesbit, will read more sophisticated versions in the logic stage (and perhaps even read or listen to a comedy in full) then read the orginals in high school / rhetoric.

 

The WTM is designed to be repetitive (i.e. the 4 year history cycle), although exactly how you interpret that is, I imagine, open to interpretation.

 

Nikki

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Ditto. I grew up reading my mom's Reader's Digest Condensed Books. It never dawned on me to ask what "condensed" meant.

 

*tongue firmly planted in cheek* My brother fondly recalls many of my mom's RD's Condensed Books like "Tale of a City," "Goldilocks and the Two Bears," and "The Brother Grimm." :tongue_smilie:

 

More seriously, I know the SOTW AG recommends many of the "retellings" of classical books & TWTM mentions having kids read the same type at their appropriate age so that when they are older, they won't shy away from the "real" books. I can't see the problem, as long as you don't let them tell you when they are older that they "already read" those books when they were kids so they don't have to read the "real" versions now. :001_smile:

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As Nikki said the cycle is open to interpretation :)

 

For me, i personally don't see a problem with exposing a child to a well written childrens version (retelling) of a classic that is well beyond their comprehension. We are currently listening to The Odyssey (childrens version) on audio and we are all getting something out of it, DH included. When we get to it the next time the kids will have the basics of the story and be prepared for more of it, increased vocabulary etc. BUT they wont be caught up with trying to get what is going on, they will know the basics and can enjoy the words more.

 

I think so long as your plan is to move on from the children version to a source version at some point you are moving in the right direction. At least for me personally i think it is OK.

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Is it a bad idea to read re-tellings of famous classics? I have been looking at several of Geraldine McCaughrean's books such as The Odyssey, etc. for my ds. When he is older, I am hoping to have him read the originals of at least some of them.
I am adamantly against retellings and abridgements of most works: I simply can't condone spoiling someone's first reading of a classic work for the sake of a plot point familiarity a few years prematurely. However, when it comes to epics, legends, myths, etc. -- works one needs to be familiar with to understand many literary and larger cultural references -- I have no problem with retellings. Besides, it's unlikely even the most dogmatic literary purist would expect one not to expose children to the Iliad and Odyssey until they can be read in the original Greek. ;)

 

FWIW, my line is Don Quixote, for which we have a few retellings. I'm as yet undecided about Shakespeare, but am leaning towards an ad hoc approach to allusions to his works.

 

Any opinions on whether this is ok to do or whether it is a bad idea in a WTM sort of way;)?
The WTM authors condone retellings of all sorts, including relatively modern works.

 

Any opinions on Geraldine McCaughrean's books?
She's a masterful reteller who writes with vivid imagery and maintains the spirit of the original works (including El Cid... so be careful with that one) in manner usually suitable for young children. We're partial to McCaughrean, Padraic Colum, Rosemary Sutcliff, and Howard Pyle.
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