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Lord of the Rings question

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I was recently criticized for reading "The Fellowship of the Ring" aloud to my 7 year old son (I'm reading it to my older child too). I was told it is not "appropriate" for his age. He loves the story and has gotten very into it, asking detailed questions about the history of Middle Earth and poring over maps to find places that the book mentions. It does not bore him in the slightest and he can easily listen for 30 minutes or more. I am not seeing a problem here but wondered if I'm missing something...?

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I don't see a problem either if he is enjoying it and seems to understand it.

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My dad read it to us when I was about that age. I don't think I really followed it but I certainly didn't have any problems with it. I finally fell in love with the books when I was eleven.

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I read the trilogy to my DSs when they were 5yo and 6yo. BUT... We had previously read The Hobbit, and we had done a lot of read-aloud with elevated vocabulary and long passages of description, so they had a tolerance for it. We also picked it up and put it down and did other books in between/along the way, so it took us a full year to go through all 3 books. But they never burned out on it, and very much enjoyed it.

I will mention that the books become more elevated in language and you hit some lofty medieval ideas in The Two Towers and into The Return of the King, so there is a possibility that your child may lose interest. That's okay. You can always set it aside (rather than feel you must force yourselves through it) and save it for a few years down the line when interest level and maturity have increased and he is more ready for it. And... if he keeps enjoying it all the way through -- huzzah! go ahead and finish it with enjoyment!

If he's really enjoying the maps, together you might have fun browsing the Encyclopedia of Arda website.

Edited by Lori D.

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You aren't missing anything.  My youngest was 6 or 7 for his first read through (audiobook).  He's re-listened several times since. 

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The second most fundamental premise of homeschooling: One size does not fit all!

 

(The First premise would be that parents are the primary educators of their children, regardless of what educational path they choose.)

Edited by ScoutTN
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Yes! One size does not fit all. DD4 is enjoying listening into me reading Lord of the Rings to my older kids (15, 13, 11), but ds8 was really disturbed by the book and on the verge of tears after the first few chapters. He said, "I'm not old enough for this!" It wasn't from lack of understanding but from over-connection.

Dd4 can handle it because she doesn't emotionally connect with the story, but ds8 is very extreme emotionally and it upset him a lot. But it was my friend's 6-yo's favorite. (Now ds8 is reading Hobbit with dad while I read LotR with big kids.)

Emily

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I am...not ambivalent, but...nuanced (?) maybe about what I think on this topic.  My rule of thumb was to read as much at an age-appropriate level.  But here are some other thoughts I have on this topic.

1.  It's GREAT that your 7yo likes listening along, and that he is enjoying the story.  But at 7, (barring exceptionality) he is not really "reading" the story, that is, taking in any more than the story line--and that is fine.  But it always bugged me when I talked to someone who says, "Oh, yes, my father/mother read ______ (your choice) to me when I was 7.  Good book."  But they haven't read it since, so they really don't understand, for example, that Watership Down is not a story about bunnies.  They really can't join in the conversation about the book, but they think they have read it.

2.  There's so much time in the day/week/year...and I would have hated for my son to miss Winnie the Pooh--which he will not be picking up at age 14 or ... until he has kids, maybe.  Or Old Yeller or The Phantom Tollbooth or any of the other books written for the younger crowd in particular.  

I read a LOT to my son; he loved being read-aloud-to, so it was often 3 hours a day.  (Only child...). And yes, we both read to him a LOT from adult books, especially histories as those were in his wheelhouse.  I remember reading descriptions of the main players in the development of the atomic bomb--Einstein, Oppenheimer, Teller, Niels Bohr--from Richard Rhodes' The Making of the Atomic Bomb. And we had lively discussions about the characters, especially Niels Bohr who particularly appealed to my son because his mother took notes for him in all his classes through university until his wife took over!  My ds liked THAT idea.  (Reluctant writer.)

I would not criticize anyone for reading LOTR to a younger person who liked it--but don't let him think that he has "read" it--and leave time to read the younger-kid books.  (FWIW, I've read LOTR 4 times now, and it has been different at each reading.  It was a very different book to me in this CoVid-19 lockdown than it was 3 or 4 years ago...)

-----

As an aside, since my son turned 24, we have had some interesting discussions about his school experience.  He was always a little mad at me that his schooling was ... "out of band."  He didn't get to ride the big yellow bus, he didn't get to have a zillion friends, etc.  But as he has grown up, he is realizing that the things he DID get would not have been available to him in school (logic, explicitly taught grammar, Latin) and that he has benefitted by what he learned in these classes in his STEM life, that he actually has an edge over his colleagues because of these things.    Recently, we talked for a couple of hours (!) about how glad he was that we read the way we did.  He is not an avid reader, but he is a good reader, and he remembers and ponders almost everything he reads.  He contrasted that with the experience of his friends who were either paid to read books or assigned enormous amounts of reading.  He says that now when they run across a book they have both read, his friends can barely remember what the books were about, and that there is little reflective thought about what they have read or understood from the books.  In one case, talking about some books that his friend was paid to read at age 12 or 13, he told me that these particular books border on pornography...but the friend was congratulated for his avidity in reading--and paid for it.  

My son actually THANKED me (!!!) for keeping a decent (relatively slow) pace, for not pushing him beyond his years, and for providing good books worthy of reflection.  I about fell over.  I didn't even know he knew that this is what I had intended!  That was a happy conversation (albeit not without criticism!).   :0)

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On 5/11/2020 at 1:45 PM, EmilyGF said:

Yes! One size does not fit all. DD4 is enjoying listening into me reading Lord of the Rings to my older kids (15, 13, 11), but ds8 was really disturbed by the book and on the verge of tears after the first few chapters. He said, "I'm not old enough for this!" It wasn't from lack of understanding but from over-connection.

Dd4 can handle it because she doesn't emotionally connect with the story, but ds8 is very extreme emotionally and it upset him a lot. But it was my friend's 6-yo's favorite. (Now ds8 is reading Hobbit with dad while I read LotR with big kids.)

Emily

Yes!  I think this might be why you hear the "age appropriate" comments.  Ain't no way I'm reading that book to my ds8 for at least 2 years-he would be very scared.  We've read The Hobbit, but that is more made for kids than LOTR (and when we watched the old cartoon version of The Hobbit ds8 was terrified of the oarcs).  My ds6, however, would probably enjoy it (but I'll wait until I can read it to both of them together).  But I'm looking forward to reading it to them some day-one of my favorites 🙂

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16 hours ago, Patty Joanna said:

I am...not ambivalent, but...nuanced (?) maybe about what I think on this topic.  My rule of thumb was to read as much at an age-appropriate level.  But here are some other thoughts I have on this topic.

1.  It's GREAT that your 7yo likes listening along, and that he is enjoying the story.  But at 7, (barring exceptionality) he is not really "reading" the story, that is, taking in any more than the story line--and that is fine.  But it always bugged me when I talked to someone who says, "Oh, yes, my father/mother read ______ (your choice) to me when I was 7.  Good book."  But they haven't read it since, so they really don't understand, for example, that Watership Down is not a story about bunnies.  They really can't join in the conversation about the book, but they think they have read it.

 

That's a really good point! I keep being shocked at how much I like LotR. In retrospect, it is probably because my dad read it aloud to me when I was 7 or 8 and I didn't really connect to it then. After that, I always assumed I'd "read" it and never bothered rereading it until now. I just figured it wasn't my genre. At this point, I really like it and keep having to tell myself not to peek ahead!

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We are big re readers in this house, so reading things too early isn't a big deal. Right now my husband is reading The Fellowship of the Ring to the kids (ages 7,6,3,1). Before this, he read a history book about the development of the ship board clock and how important it was for map making. I'm going through the Chronicles of Narnia and Ramona books. Our deal is that I read the on and slightly above she level stuff to them, he reads the way above, and they read themselves, too. The oldest has heard me read Ramona and  Narnia before, but she's still impatiently sneaking the books and reading ahead, then listening again. The youngest isn't getting anything from it except that he loves to see the pictures and be near us during cuddly read aloud time.

I do agree with the above idea that you don't want a kid to think that they know all about a book because it was a read aloud when they were small, but we just talk about how fun it is to re read books and notice new things each time. Still in early days of the experiment, but I'm basically replicating and expanding on what my dad read to us, and that seemed to have worked.

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20 hours ago, Patty Joanna said:

... My rule of thumb was to read as much at an age-appropriate level...
...There's so much time in the day/week/year...and I would have hated for my son to miss... any of the other books written for the younger crowd in particular.  

I read a LOT to my son; he loved being read-aloud-to, so it was often 3 hours a day.  (Only child...)...

... I would not criticize anyone for reading LOTR to a younger person who liked it--but ... leave time to read the younger-kid books...

 

Totally agree about not missing that "window of opportunity" to read all of the wonderful books designed to be esp. loved at younger ages because one is reading mostly high school/adult level books to the child.

I was just assuming that the OP *was* reading all of those age-appropriate books to her child, and that this was an unusual above-age outlier. 

Because, like you, that's what I was doing with our 2 DSs -- a good 2 hours/day of read-alouds from the time they were toddlers (back then it was multiple rounds of 20 minute sessions of picture books), and then all of the wonderful children's books. That much read-aloud does give you time for bringing in the occasional above-age book. And time for repeat readings of any special favorites of the younger-age books.

Ahhhh... I miss doing read-alouds. We had read-alouds all the way through high school, and even one or two when DSs were college age... Hard to say goodbye to that wonderful time with my sons.

Edited by Lori D.

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4 hours ago, EmilyGF said:

not to peek ahead

I do this.  It makes my dh nutty.  That's part of why I got a Kindle....he can't tell that I'm reading the back of the book.  :0)

 

1 hour ago, Lori D. said:

Ahhhh... I miss doing read-alouds. We had read-alouds all the way through high school, and even one or two when DSs were college age... Hard to say goodbye to that wonderful time with my sons.

Oh, me too.  The last read-aloud we did was The Brothers Karamazov when he was in high school.  That was long enough that it cured me, for awhile.  

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I read LOTR last year to bunch (ages 10, 9, 7, 5, and 3). The 3-year old was mostly asleep during our reads. Just feel your kids out. You know them better than anyone. I have a couple that are more sensitive and a couple that are more curious. There's one scene in the Return of the King that describes decapitated heads hurling over the walls of Minas Tirith... It's brief, but I skipped that sentence or modified. I had to condense some of the poems or risk revolt. They otherwise loved it. 

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Every child is different.   One of my kids would have been fine with that at 7 (might not have had the attention span for it...but the content wouldn't have bothered them), while my other child would have still struggled with the content at 10.

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On 5/23/2020 at 2:35 PM, goldenecho said:

Now the movie...that is a different matter.   I would not let a 7 year old watch the movie.

Well... the movie is a different matter for intensity yes, but ALSO for reasons of increasingly deviating from both the plot AND core themes AND the heart & soul of the books; focusing on spectacle in place of complex histories/cultures; and stripping characters of their depth and ennobling traits in favor of surface level post-modern-angst-y-self-doubt or juvenile belching & drinking for laughs.

But as you say... that's a different matter... 😉 😂

Edited by Lori D.
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18 minutes ago, Lori D. said:

Well... the movie is a different matter for intensity yes, but ALSO for reasons of increasingly deviating from both the plot AND core themes AND the heart & soul of the books,; focusing on spectacle in place of complex histories/cultures; and stripping characters of their depth and ennobling traits in favor of a surface level of post-modern-angst-y-self-doubt or juvenile belching & drinking for laughs.

But as you say... that's a different matter... 😉 😂

Lori, you are my soul sister 💕

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