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How much focus on "classics"? - Page 2

post #21 of 34

I put the classics into the rotation, but they are by no means my focus educationally.  I think they should be read because there is quite a bit of cultural literacy surrounding them.  However, I am frankly somewhat horrified by the lessons taught by many of them. 

 

For instance, I read my dd Jack and the Beanstalk the other day (it was part of her Moving Beyond the Page curriculum). For those of you who haven't read the full original version recently, Jack (somewhat foolishly) trades his family's only hope at sustinence for some beans, then climbs the beanstalk grown from them and repeatedly steals from the ogre (who isn't nice or anything, but the wife is, and besides the ogre never did anything bad to Jack directly) until he has stolen enough to become rich and then he marries a princess.

 

Ummm....

 

When I finished reading it, my dd said, "That is the worst story I have ever heard!"  LOL, out of the mouths of babes...not the kind of morals/ethics I'm trying to instill in my kids, needless to say! 

 

I completely agree that kids should be familiar with the classics, but they are more of a "side show" in the literature realm for me, I tend to choose what I would consider higher-quality literature as my main focus. 

post #22 of 34

Poor Jack is getting some hate on this thread, and I agree it's not a great moral.  What it is, though, is part of a long tradition of fool/prankster stories where the hero is actually an anti-hero and prospers either despite or because of his or her foolishness.  It's a pretty common meme in all traditions. 

 

What's funny is that I think we have some idea that stories for kids (particularly old ones) must teach a Very Important Lesson, so stories like Jack and the Beanstalk get shoved into a mold that it obviously doesn't fit in.

 

ETA: but I think it's a good story to know so that you recognize the genre.  I guess it would just be nice if the genre was explained a little better!

post #23 of 34



I love literary discussions like this!!

 

My kids love Jack and I think in large part because anti-heroes are easy for children to relate to. My kids want to be "good." They desperately do. But there are just times in their lives when it seems like putting glue on the hardwood floors seems like a good idea!! lol

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lach View Post

Poor Jack is getting some hate on this thread, and I agree it's not a great moral.  What it is, though, is part of a long tradition of fool/prankster stories where the hero is actually an anti-hero and prospers either despite or because of his or her foolishness.  It's a pretty common meme in all traditions. 

 

What's funny is that I think we have some idea that stories for kids (particularly old ones) must teach a Very Important Lesson, so stories like Jack and the Beanstalk get shoved into a mold that it obviously doesn't fit in.

 

ETA: but I think it's a good story to know so that you recognize the genre.  I guess it would just be nice if the genre was explained a little better!

post #24 of 34

I think they are important for cultural knowledge--but so is Biblical knowledge (I say this as a non-Christian) because so many literary references relate to "The Bible". I

also feel a understanding of Christian beliefs (as well as other faiths) is necessary to understand history, political science, etc.

 

I also believe they're classics for a reason. They're timeless... they often have a moral component....etc.   While "Jack in the Beanstalk" may teach one about stealing--that's still an important discussion to have.  Being married to an Egyptian, we also try to expose our kids to the classics from DH's culture, such as the Goha tales.  

 

I'm not a classics only person--as there are lots of good books out there that were written more recently.  Heck, I also don't say "no" to modern Character books (such as Batman, Dora, etc.)--as  I really want my kids to enjoy reading--whatever it is.  I'll expose them to some books with a bit more literary value, but that doesn't mean that they can't enjoy other books as well.  I remember as a kid loving Jane Austen, but also Sidney Sheldon.  LOL 

post #25 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jennifer3141 View Post



I love literary discussions like this!!

 

My kids love Jack and I think in large part because anti-heroes are easy for children to relate to. My kids want to be "good." They desperately do. But there are just times in their lives when it seems like putting glue on the hardwood floors seems like a good idea!! lol

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lach View Post

Poor Jack is getting some hate on this thread, and I agree it's not a great moral.  What it is, though, is part of a long tradition of fool/prankster stories where the hero is actually an anti-hero and prospers either despite or because of his or her foolishness.  It's a pretty common meme in all traditions. 

 

What's funny is that I think we have some idea that stories for kids (particularly old ones) must teach a Very Important Lesson, so stories like Jack and the Beanstalk get shoved into a mold that it obviously doesn't fit in.

 

ETA: but I think it's a good story to know so that you recognize the genre.  I guess it would just be nice if the genre was explained a little better!


 

Have you seen the Barefoot Books "Trickster Tales"? Sounds like your kids might enjoy them.  I know my two sons do. :)
 

post #26 of 34


TOTALLY  -- there is a lot GOOD that is not 'as old as Grimm's FT' -- but my point is so much of the 'new' stuff is shallow and flat -- You said it so well

 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jennifer3141 View Post

I think what Aimee means is that there is an awful lot of "junk" literature right now. We read at least 100 books a week, many form our local library system and I have a generous Amazon budget so we get to view most of the newest literature and there are some really garbage type books for kids. What is up with all the darn farting animals??? It's as if kids (boys particularly since these books are definitely geared to boys) had interest in only one end of veterinary medicine.

 

There are a lot of books out there depicting school as either full time recess or this horrible prison where they make you learn math which clearly no sane person could ever want to learn.

 

And the character stuff, OY the Spiderman books and the %$#!%$# Disney princesses.

 

The biggest library in our system has a 40 foot long 2 row shelving system for the $3.99 easy reader books. Many of the most recent ones are deeply copyrighted character books like Iron Man and the Frog Princess but even the ones that are not are rather vapid. They're using simpler language that Seuss ever thought of using with kids, even as a joke. A lot of new stuff is downright condescending.

 

We have fallen in love with William Steig, P.D. Eastman, Tomie DePaola, Cynthia Rylant, and a few others. It seems sometimes you have to go back a bit to find authors who wrote for the sheer joy of writing for kids. We like Fancy Nancy too but Fancy Nancy isn't just books. She's got dolls and dresses and a DVD or two.

There are no Mudge stuffed dogs. I think Rylant was too busy writing to worry about marketing cereal too!!!

 

I love children's literature like Dickens' Magic Wishbone. The language is old-fashioned but so darn good and Dickens clearly didn't believe children should be spoken down to.

 

Our librarians smile like crazy when we check stuff out. And we communicate like crazy about what we liked and hated and what they recommend. They too have seen a trend toward some really dumb being written and consumed and parents happy because "at least the kids are reading." The operative phrase in previous sentence is "at least" IMO.

post #27 of 34

LOL I wrote my post sleep deprived and NAKing and I couldn't remember the word... it's trickster and not prankster.

 

I wonder why it's not really taught as a trickster story.  Probably because we want to make sure kids only eat healthy things and no junk food... even for their minds.  Because it really is a very silly story about a very stupid kid.  It should be played for laughs, imo.

 

Sorry to derail the conversation.  :)  Maybe this is just a good reminder that not all of the "classics" are morally edifying.  If you want to be knowledgable about film, knowing about Charlie Chaplin is just as important as knowing Citizen Kane.  If you're going to understand theater, a Midsummer's Night Dream is just as important as Hamlet.  And being able to "get" it when someone says Fee Fi Fo Fum and everyone in the room laughs is just as important as understanding a reference to a Bible story.  They all have their place in our culture, and I think they're all important to learn about.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by umsami View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by Jennifer3141 View Post



I love literary discussions like this!!

 

My kids love Jack and I think in large part because anti-heroes are easy for children to relate to. My kids want to be "good." They desperately do. But there are just times in their lives when it seems like putting glue on the hardwood floors seems like a good idea!! lol

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lach View Post

Poor Jack is getting some hate on this thread, and I agree it's not a great moral.  What it is, though, is part of a long tradition of fool/prankster stories where the hero is actually an anti-hero and prospers either despite or because of his or her foolishness.  It's a pretty common meme in all traditions. 

 

What's funny is that I think we have some idea that stories for kids (particularly old ones) must teach a Very Important Lesson, so stories like Jack and the Beanstalk get shoved into a mold that it obviously doesn't fit in.

 

ETA: but I think it's a good story to know so that you recognize the genre.  I guess it would just be nice if the genre was explained a little better!


 

Have you seen the Barefoot Books "Trickster Tales"? Sounds like your kids might enjoy them.  I know my two sons do. :)
 

post #28 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by Momma Aimee View Post


TOTALLY  -- there is a lot GOOD that is not 'as old as Grimm's FT' -- but my point is so much of the 'new' stuff is shallow and flat -- You said it so well

 

 


I agree with you. What you're saying here is different from what you said in your first post: which was implying that there's nothing contemporary out there but the shallow, flat stuff. Sure, there's a lot of dreck, but there's some pretty great stuff too. There's no need to stick to classics to avoid the dreck. 

 

Miranda

 

post #29 of 34
post #30 of 34

I do think exposure to "classics" is important but I do not think it is necessary to address it as early as kindergarten, if these are not the type of material that works for your child at that age.   They can be enjoyed later.  I am just now starting through them with DS1 and he is almost eight.  He is able to pay better attention and get more out of them now than he would have been able to at a younger age.  So I like the focus on classics, but not the time/age pressure.  In fact that is my biggest hang up with the "What Your Child....." series in general.  I have a kid who does things in his own time, and not before.  Books that prescribe what should be accomplished by x age or grade make me want to run screaming and hide somewhere.  When I read the Kindergartner and First Grade versions of these books, I felt stressed and burdened by how much material the author says should be covered in these years.  In that context, to me there was no fun or enjoyment in covering the prescribed classics.  I would rather get to these at a more leisurely pace, and enjoy them.

post #31 of 34

The only "classics" I think are really important in the primary years is basic (Newtonian) physics and maths. That to me is beautiful information  that has stood the test of time.

 

I do prefer contemporary works. I'm not a huge fan of information or literature without much context, I like to be able to talk to my kids about the situation in the time the book was written, about the life of the author, about why he or she held certain views, and so forth. We just don't have as much information about ancient writers-even Shakespeare is pretty mysterious. I'm also very conscious that to an extent the "classics" are mainly written or at least recorded by white people, middle class people, males, and I don't want these rareified viewpoints dominating my children's reading. A great thing about contemporary literature to me is the diversity, and while my kids are young, my priority is to preserve their automatic assuption that diversity is the norm.

 

 

post #32 of 34
Hmm. In the version of jack and the beanstalk that we have, jack is "stealing" back things that the mean giant stole from jack's father long ago, thereby restoring his family fortune. Just goes to show how many different versions there are of these stories. Haha!

We happen to love all the classic tales, fables, rhymes. I have them available for my kids but i don't push any of it, they just discover them at some point and ask me to read to them or the older one reads to himself. My oldest is especially into all that stuff.
post #33 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by calynde View Post

AHmm. In the version of jack and the beanstalk that we have, jack is "stealing" back things that the mean giant stole from jack's father long ago, thereby restoring his family fortune. Just goes to show how many different versions there are of these stories. Haha!


 


Same here and the giant killed Jack's father. I may have bought a rougher version but my DS didn't seem too bothered. Maybe because the giant smells the blood of an Englishman and not American or French?

We've definitely read some classics even if they weren't our main focus. I agree with a PP that they don't need to be enjoyed at a certain age or in a certain way (for example, some stories I just told my son). I remember being 11 or 12 and coming across a book of Aesop's fables and reading it in one sitting.

Last year we read the French (original?) version for children of Bluebeard. Yikes. Not all of these tales are easy to understand and discuss. I can't argue that it's a good thing to read Bluebeard to your children, but I don't regret reading it to my son. Same with The Little Match Girl, but we did discuss why Andersen wrote a story like that--what he was possibly trying to tell people.

We've also read many beautiful picture books--we had most of the FIAR books and one my son especially loved was Warm as Wool. A story of a pioneer woman who strives to keep her family warm despite setbacks. I wouldn't have expected he'd like that book so much. There is so much wonderful children's lit available and some licensed character books here and there aren't going to poison any minds. They might even provide a laugh, a great discussion or a new word (it could happen).

 

post #34 of 34



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by calynde View Post

Hmm. In the version of jack and the beanstalk that we have, jack is "stealing" back things that the mean giant stole from jack's father long ago, thereby restoring his family fortune. Just goes to show how many different versions there are of these stories. Haha!

We happen to love all the classic tales, fables, rhymes. I have them available for my kids but i don't push any of it, they just discover them at some point and ask me to read to them or the older one reads to himself. My oldest is especially into all that stuff.

we have that version too

 

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