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Homer for the very conservative


Milknhoney
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Maybe I am just way to conservative.... but I am having a hard time finding the appropriate read-aloud of Homer for my almost-six-year-old. I requested The Children's Homer from the library, and it's been a month and I haven't gotten it yet. I got Sutcliff's version, and started to preread it. And I don't know... the language would be on his level, but I'm not sure if I am ready to read him a version that details the fact that Helen left willingly and committed adultery, and again with Achilles' slave girl. So I requested an adaptation by Alfred Church and got that yesterday. More details are hidden, but the language is a bit more advanced and well, my main dilemma is... I am starting to question how important or appropriate it really is to read an ADULT story to a child so young. Stories where adult subjects are integral to the plot and have to be left in at some level. He did read Emily Little's Story of Troy and loved it, so I really wanted to give him more. I'm looking for insight into my dilemma, and possibly recommendations for a version I haven't discovered yet that would be perfect for a really conservative family.

 

I ran into a similar problem with Gilgamesh...I ended up not reading the picture books to him; I just didn't feel comfortable with one page.

 

Does anyone else feel this way about reading adapted adult literature to very young children? Better to wait for logic stage for this?

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We have chosen to skip Homer, Gilgamesh, etc. Dd10, 5th grade, is in 2nd history cycle so we're back at Ancients. I thought I would do it by now but I'm STILL not comfortable with it!

 

There are so many good classics to choose from, I'm fine with skipping some.

 

Go with your gut-I got this advice early on in parenting and it has never failed me. God gives us good instincts to know what is best for our individual dc.

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I would not teach my 6, 7, any age child something I had issues with for each respective age. When in doubt, follow your instincts, you are the mother and the one who needs to protect your own child. This is why we homeschool. So we can have control over what goes in these sweet innocent little minds. There will be enough time later.

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I really wouldn't touch it under 6th grade or so...the stories are very indepth, there are mature themes, and most kids under that age just aren't terribly interested. I would say to stick with things like D'Aulaire's myth books - there's enough there to keep anyone, of any age, interested :)

 

It wasn't written for young children - it was written for adults (which, at that time, included teens). I'd even go with an adapted story (Black Ships Before Troy, for example) for logic stage - save the original for rhetoric. Skip it altogether for grammar.

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my sensitive almost 6yo had a serious problem until recently with war, slavery, etc. i have tread very lightly in those areas. but now she is much better at dealing with these ideas in a historical context. i would say avoid anything that your child would find disturbing until they indicate they are ready.

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I consider myself conservative, but I didn't skip it. Personally I thought David and Bathsheba was trickier to explain to my younger kids than the Iliad was. Veggietales brought that up. :tongue_smilie:

 

If only one page of an otherwise great book bothered me, I read it aloud and paraphrase when we come to the part I don't want young ears to hear. There's no rule that you have to read every word. ;)

 

Fairly recently my 7yo listened to a Trojan Horse story rather than an Iliad retelling, and some adventures of Odysseus. He thoroughly enjoyed them, and has already caught references to the Trojan horse in other places. I did fill in more information on why the war was going in the first place, but it was easy enough to gloss over the the woman choosing the adultery.

 

My logic stage kids read some Sutcliff and McCaughrean. One of them read the McCaughrean Gilgamesh and gave it two thumbs up.

 

If you have SOTW volume one I recall it having a little kid friendly retelling.

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I agree that the Bible has it all...yeah...read Judges. good grief! Homer is easier to explain than that. I tend to just put those things on their level, like, "You know how Daddy would be upset if I kissed another man, so I don't? Well, her husband got upset because she did, and started a war with the guy she kissed--she shouldn't have done that, huh?" ooooohhhhh. story continues. simple and direct.

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When my boys were young I was a VERY conservative Christian. Literature and reading was mostly the KJV and biographies. I didn't believe in including stories for school. School was all nonfiction. Their father was not a Christian, and I was lax about what they pursued during play time, but what I TAUGHT was quite rigid.

 

If I had it all over to do again, I would do it differently, because I am a different person now, but it didn't hurt them.

 

And my younger son pursued some very rigorous literature selections in his teens, starting with Pilgrims Progress at 12 and then developing a fascination for Shakespeare and the Loeb Classics.

 

If you read biographies, you will see that families struggled with this same issue all through the 1600s through the 1800s. The introduction to Lambs Shakespeare discusses the topic I think.

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I decided last year that a lot of Homer was inappropriate for my 6yo. We read The Trojan Horse by Hutton, so he got a taste of the story without all the parts he wasn't ready for yet. HTH

 

:iagree:I skipped all of Homer, but I did the Step into Reading 'The Trojan Horse: How the Greeks Won the War', by Emily Little. It worked for all my age groups, and the story still fascinated my DC. I added in extra content on Troy and some other books with pictures of their versions of the Trojan Horse. I know that next time around, they will be eager to get a little more in depth.

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My 9 year old is reading Black Ships Before Troy and I personally haven't had trouble explaining (I've had a more difficult time explaining some of the stuff in the Old Testament doing MP's Christian Studies I), but I agree if you're uncomfortable, shelve it and save it for later. It's not necessary to cover it *right now*

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I was very reluctant to read these as well but in the same year we were studying about King David and how he committed adultery with another man's wife (and then had him killed!) I figured that surely if our Bible curriculum doesn't hide the horrible motivations of people's hearts then I probably shouldn't either. We ended up having a great (but simple) conversation about these things and I feel it helped my kids (8 and 6 at the time) to be open about these things. In fact a year later a close family to us has been torn apart by adultery and it helped us to explain to them. They have also had the opportunity to see what kind of damage it has done to the kids (their friends) So I COMPLETELY understand and you should go with your gut AND kids do not NEED to read Homer BUT you could tie it in to some great discussions about God's intentiosn for family if you want...

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As mentioned, the Mary Pope Osborne retelling is wonderful, but I agree it just may not be appropriate for your family.

I do think The Iliad is much more violent and graphic--MPO's is just The Odyssey, and it doesn't deal with Helen, really, just how faithful Penelope was. It glosses over how her hubby...well, wasn't.

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If you feel like this, I'd skip it altogether - there is no way to alter the story of the Iliad to remove all adult content and have it still make sense.

 

At 6, the battle, the tension between the warriors, the grief, the trickery was all my boy cared about. He never mentions all the before stuff, and never drew Helen (although he drew Penelope, and the Amazon's coming to Troy's aid, so it isn't as if he simply ignored all the women in Homer). I've read him 2 versions and he's heard the Naxos recording The Tale of Troy a dozen times. We often talk about it. It is a work that really moved his imagination, and I feel his life, our mental life together, is richer for it. He is deeply energized by hearing any reference to something in Homer. But Helen's actions didn't register at important or noteworthy to him. Trashing the temple after the fall of Troy was more noteworthy to him.

HTH

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The Bible is a library of books. There is no need for young children to be introduced to the entire library while still young.

 

If the Bible is taught as fact, adultery mentioned in fact, is different than in literature which is supposed to be art and entertainment.

 

I don't go along with the idea that anything mentioned in the Bible, is acceptable to be included in storybooks for young children.

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Thank you all for your insights. I finished reading Black Ships Before Troy last night and have definately decided my son can wait on this story. It stirred up a lot of thoughts and feelings to talk about, but things that will be better discussed later. I think another poster said exactly what I am feeling - why break his innocence any earlier than necessary?

 

I requested the Hutton and Osborne books from the library. I'm hoping those will work, but if not, I do feel more settled about skipping it.

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The Bible is a library of books. There is no need for young children to be introduced to the entire library while still young.

 

If the Bible is taught as fact, adultery mentioned in fact, is different than in literature which is supposed to be art and entertainment.

 

I don't go along with the idea that anything mentioned in the Bible, is acceptable to be included in storybooks for young children.

 

:iagree: First of all, reading the Bible and reading stories centered around mythology and legends are two different animals. We aren't anti-fiction... we do read the Step Into Reading version of The Trojan Horse at that age, as well as plenty of other fiction and age-appropriate books. But they'll get more later, when they're more emotionally and spiritually mature enough to handle the content.

 

Secondly, we don't read every word of the Bible out loud at that age, either. The stories like David and Bathsheba would be read from a Bible storybook, for example. They'll eventually read the entire Bible cover to cover, but we don't do it at this age. There are more important "highlights" to cover from the Bible at that age.

 

This is why we like MFW, btw. That first "history cycle" in MFW, when many others are reading Shakespeare and Homer, is done with a stronger focus on an introduction to the Bible, character training, God's creation, etc., and getting those 3 R's down. Then MFW gradually ramps up the history, science and Bible over the years. I just like how they do it better than the WTM "way".

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The Bible is a library of books. There is no need for young children to be introduced to the entire library while still young.

 

If the Bible is taught as fact, adultery mentioned in fact, is different than in literature which is supposed to be art and entertainment.

 

I don't go along with the idea that anything mentioned in the Bible, is acceptable to be included in storybooks for young children.

There's also plenty of murder, and I don't think fratricide / patricide are great stories for the very young. These things would be traumatic if discussed with very young children.

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I agree and since I brought the Bible into this discussion I will respond further. We read through the Bible as a family using our individual full version Bibles therefore from a very early age my children hear about Lot and his daughters, David and Bathsheba, etc. They also sit in the church service from infancy and hear things there. They memorize the 10 Commandments. Even so, I don't think I would read a story to my young children about a man getting drunk and fathering children with his daughters. But to put a story in context with the 7th commandment, yes, if it wasn't graphic I would. And Black Ships is not graphic regarding adultry, The Children's Homer is even less so. I find the death of Hector and treatment of his body more disturbing and difficult to discuss with a young child. Bottom line is much of the subject matter in The Iliad is difficult with young children and you may very well decide to leave it for another day.

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I agree with everybody! :tongue_smilie:

 

1. There is stuff in the Bible that makes the Iliad seem like a Victorian tea party in comparison

 

2. There is no need to make that comparison, however, if you regard the Bible as literal truth and the Iliad as legend

 

3. The wonderful thing about homeschooling is that you get to make the choice best suited for your own child! My current first grader is reading Black Ships Before Troy and loving it. The immorality does not phase him. But I can totally imagine that my daughter, at the same age, might not be ready for that content, and I won't hesitate to stick to the lighter stuff in the grammar stage if that's what she needs.

 

Ultimately, I'm not sure that the degree of social conservatism practiced by a family is the defining criterion for when to teach the Iliad. To me, the more germane question is "is my child mature enough to maintain an appropriate emotional distance between his own morality and the very different morality of the ancient Greeks?"

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And Black Ships is not graphic regarding adultery, The Children's Homer is even less so. I find the death of Hector and treatment of his body more disturbing and difficult to discuss with a young child. Bottom line is much of the subject matter in The Iliad is difficult with young children and you may very well decide to leave it for another day.

 

:iagree: I finished Black Ships with my 7-yr old not too long ago, and he was quite disturbed by Achilles's treatment of Hector's body. He also cried at the end when Oenone threw herself on the funeral pyre of Paris. He said it was because they were supposed to love each other, so I guess my little guy has a romantic streak.

 

On the other hand, he loved all the war, fighting, swords, poisoned arrows, and the crazy goddesses getting all uppity about who's hot or not.

 

We had some excellent discussions about all of it but some were extremely difficult. The most difficult was actually a fear my 7-yr old developed that Anger would overtake his heart like it did Achilles, and he would do terrible, monstrous things and not be able to forgive his friends. As a Christian, we reminded him that if Jesus is in his heart, there's no room for that. He has love and joy and peace, so the anger can't stick. Anyway, that was our experience. The adultery stuff didn't phase him one bit.

 

I don't regret reading it, but I think it would have been easier to just hold off for a few years.

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We covered Greek myths more generally at that age. Usborne's Greek Myths for Young Children is very attractive, and in my opionion, appropriate. I think we first read it to dd when she was 4yrs old, and it continued to be popular through to 7yrs at least. By 6 or 7yrs we were reading Lucy Coats' Atticus the Storyteller's 100 Greek Myths (also available as The Boy Who Fell From the Sky & The Wooden Horse).

 

We used Ludmila Zeman's three Gilgamesh picture books. As I recall there were a few sentences which might have added meaning for adults (e.g. "They explored the ways of love together") but nothing more hairy than that, as I recall. They are beautifully illustrated. But perhaps these were the books you were not happy about?

 

I don't think there's any harm in skipping them...

 

Nikki

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I ended up doing American History for 1st grade because there are so many good picture books for that period. Then we used Sonlight for awhile and finally came back to Ancient History last year with two in the Logic Stage. That is the right time IMHO to use the full versions.

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