Guardians of Ga'Hoole/Chronicles of Narnia - okay for 6 yo? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 48 Old 11-24-2008, 08:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am trying to find a book series for my son to keep him occupied during the transition of our move. Right now, he is reading the A to Z mysteries while taking a break from Harry Potter. He is a sensitive guy but more so to visual images than to written descriptions. So, books without illustrations tend to be better for him (or just one at the beginning of the chapter) but we also need to avoid very graphic descriptions of violence and meanness.

What do you think of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole and/or The Chronicles of Narnia? I know, I should read them to find out but, unlike my son, I am a slow reader and I just don't have the time while trying to pack and move in a 2 weeks. Any insight for me?
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#2 of 48 Old 11-24-2008, 08:42 PM
 
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My daughter liked The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe very much at that age, or maybe younger -- she might have been five? There is definitely meanness and outright cruelty, and violence in the story, though -- animals and people are turned to stone by an evil witch (including a faun who befriends the heroes and also a whole family of talking squirrels, including little squirrel children), the little boy who sells out his family is held captive, treated badly, and taunted by the bad guys (and almost has his throat cut), and the magical lion allows himself to be murdered by an army of evil creatures. He is resurrected, but it's a very sad and upsetting chapter. There are heavy emotional themes of guilt, shame, and responsibility -- none of it is gratuitous or exploitative, and these are the elements that make it such a powerful book, but they can also upset a sensitive kid.

The Narnia books aren't heavily illustrated and I don't think any of the pictures are upsetting.
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#3 of 48 Old 11-24-2008, 08:47 PM
 
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I love the Narnia books, but I don't think I would recommend them for a sensitive six-year-old. The stories are wonderful and the violent parts are good food for parent/child conversations, but if he is easily scared or is the type to dwell on the bad parts, it might be too much for him. There is a great deal of conflict throughout the books.

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#4 of 48 Old 11-24-2008, 08:53 PM
 
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If you do give him the Narnia books, I would not include the final one in the series, The Last Battle. I found it difficult even at 10 to understand why C.S. Lewis killed all of Narnia and made the kids die as well, only to be "reborn" in a "better" Narnia. It's a difficult book to read, emotionally, especially for someone who has really fallen under the spell of the rest of the books.
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#5 of 48 Old 11-24-2008, 09:09 PM
 
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My 6 yo just read The Lion, the witch and the wardrobe and loved it.
She is on the sensitive side...and that one didn't bother her.

The Wizard of Oz is another good one- again some sensitive points there though.
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#6 of 48 Old 11-24-2008, 09:13 PM
 
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The Oz books seem to me to be much less upsetting that Lion, the Witch & The Wardrobe. That's a good suggestion.
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#7 of 48 Old 11-24-2008, 09:20 PM
 
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I was about the same age when I started it & I loved it. I agree about waiting for the last one though.

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#8 of 48 Old 11-24-2008, 10:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'll look into the Oz books. Sounds like I should ask him to wait on Narnia. Hmm... any other suggestions for series?
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#9 of 48 Old 11-24-2008, 10:12 PM
 
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What about Beverly Cleary's Ramona series? My 5yo ds adores them.
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#10 of 48 Old 11-24-2008, 10:39 PM
 
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How about Pippi Longstocking?
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#11 of 48 Old 11-24-2008, 10:52 PM
 
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I read the whole Narnia series to my 5 year old DD earlier this year (and then she made DP read the whole series to her again.) She loved them, but she's not terribly sensitive to violence. I'm reading the first Harry Potter book to her now, and that seems to be pushing right at the limit of what she finds too scary, so if your kid likes Harry Potter, it seems like he ought to be okay with the Narnia books. Though of course every kid is bothered by slightly different things.

As far as other series, I'll put in a plug for Tove Jansson's Moomin books.
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#12 of 48 Old 11-24-2008, 11:52 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mackysmama View Post
What do you think of the Guardians of Ga'Hoole and/or The Chronicles of Narnia? I know, I should read them to find out but, unlike my son, I am a slow reader and I just don't have the time while trying to pack and move in a 2 weeks. Any insight for me?
I'm not sure about those books, so much is dependent on how sensitive of a reader he is.

What about a different genre? DD loves the Wayside School series. They are LOL humorous. There's "Sideways Stories from Wayside School". "Wayside School is falling Down" and "Wayside School Gets a Little Stranger". There are also two math puzzle books in chapter book form that go along with them which DD also loves. The books are written by Louis Sachar ("Holes").

What about Judy Blumes' "Fudge" series?
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#13 of 48 Old 11-25-2008, 12:03 AM
 
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I have a very sensitive 7 year-old, and we listened to the Narnia series on books on cd while moving. Like you son, pictures tended to disturb him more then books where he controlled the image.

He loved the Narnia books, and after we listened to them he read them through the Silver Chair. We're stopping there--because I don't want to get into the Last Battle until he is eight.

But I think that Narnia is good for sensitive children, because there is this inherent justice that is, I think, only truly understood by a child. Yes mythical beings and humans are turned into stone, yes there are frighting and tense battles, but in the end the children , and goodness and truth win. Now a hero is only as good as the foe that he defeats is evil, so sensitive children deserve some really good heroes, right? KWIM?

Maybe it helped that I could listen to it with him, and talk about it, but he didn't really want to talk about anything--he just listened. And I had never read them before, but they were lovely. They are populated by mythical beings and universal truths. They're pretty rich--I recommend it. He reads them, and rereads them... Narnia is kind of a cool place to 'be' when you are moving.

Horrible Histories are a lot of fun, too.

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#14 of 48 Old 11-25-2008, 12:15 AM
 
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I read Prince Caspian to ds when he was just turned 5. He is senstive to "scary" things, but he was fine with the book and seemed to like it very much. He also enjoyed Dragon Rider. Then he got hooked on the Fudge books.
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#15 of 48 Old 11-25-2008, 12:24 AM
 
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You didn't mention where in HP he is, as they become progressively more complicated and dark.

I would leave all dark books alone during a period of transition such as a move. I would ditto Cleary or Blume (Fudge series), particularly Blume. Peter deals with various life situations with a certain humour and fatalism that might help your son if he as any issues with the move. Andrew Clements is good too in terms of "meaty" topics (from a primary school POV) that aren't upsetting. If he really wants a series and wants dark but silly, The Series of Unfortunate Events might work if you point out how ridiculous Count Olaf is. The Dragon Slayer's Academy is a nice series that's pretty light (they're quick reads though). Dragon Rider is ok too (I read sections of it to DD a few years back and the writing style drove me nuts, but DD liked it).

Personally, I think plenty of younger kids enjoy Narnia, but parts of the series can be intense. Intuitive readers may also pick up on the parallel plot without understanding it fully. Haven't read Ga'houle.

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#16 of 48 Old 11-25-2008, 12:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for all the insight. See below...

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Originally Posted by zinemama View Post
What about Beverly Cleary's Ramona series? My 5yo ds adores them.
I have them and thought they would be next but he isn't in to them and told me to pack them. He liked the Henry books though. I thought it was the girl as main character thing but ... (see below)

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Originally Posted by Thalia the Muse View Post
How about Pippi Longstocking?
He just stayed up late tonight to finish it and thought it was very funny!

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Originally Posted by Daffodil View Post
I'm reading the first Harry Potter book to her now, and that seems to be pushing right at the limit of what she finds too scary, so if your kid likes Harry Potter, it seems like he ought to be okay with the Narnia books.
Interesting. Hmmm.... so maybe Narnia is a good series for him (up until that last one). He just finished Prisoner of Azkaban and is planning to start Goblet of Fire. I think I'll stop him there because Order of the Phoenix gets much darker. I'm concerned about Goblet too b/c the first three HP were read-alouds so were familiar to him (though it had been a couple of years.) I'd be happy to have him start another series before continuing with HP.

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As far as other series, I'll put in a plug for Tove Jansson's Moomin books.
Oh yes, the first two are going to be x-mas presents. I can't get them in our library and I need something I can keep checking out of the library.

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DD loves the Wayside School series.


What about Judy Blumes' "Fudge" series?
Thanks for both of these. I'm going to look into. I LOVED Fudge as a kid.

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I would leave all dark books alone during a period of transition such as a move.
That's a good suggestion and I'll have to keep a close eye on him to see if we need to change gears.
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#17 of 48 Old 11-25-2008, 01:11 AM
 
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Roald Dahl might also be good.

There is a lot of really good fiction for kids and I think a local children's librarian would be a great resource. Another idea to keep him busy is a good non-fiction book - DS loves this:
http://www.amazon.com/Really-Short-H...7585972&sr=1-1
and I'm holding on to this to give them:
http://www.amazon.com/Take-Me-Back-D...7586282&sr=1-1

DD loves this one:
http://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-I...7586208&sr=1-1

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#18 of 48 Old 11-25-2008, 01:51 AM
 
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Oh, you know what he might like? Edward Eager's wonderful books about children who have magical adventures. Very funny, very charming, and the threats they encounter are kind of cartoonish and not disturbing.
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#19 of 48 Old 11-25-2008, 08:38 AM
 
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We are getting more familiar with the American Girl books lately. They seem pretty tame.

I loved Encyclopedia Brown as a child.

Narnia I would wait on if you have alternatives. It is biblical allegory. Lewis wanted the child readers to be challenged intellectually and spiritually. If your life is in turmoil I'd go a lot simpler.
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#20 of 48 Old 11-25-2008, 11:45 AM
 
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I don't quite get why some people think The Last Battle is too much for a young kid. My DD didn't find it any more disturbing than the others. Yeah, Narnia is destroyed and the kids find out they're dead - but they end up in the even better "real Narnia" with Aslan (and their families, who conveniently died at the same time), and other good characters who died are brought back to life, and everything is wonderful. Lewis meant it to be the ultimate happy ending, and my DD certainly took it that way. She found the idea of the "real Narnia" interesting.
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#21 of 48 Old 11-25-2008, 01:48 PM
 
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Daffodil, I think it's great that your dd wasn't bothered by TLB; I guess some kids don't see it the way I did. I just saw it as a horrible betrayal of everything in all the other books. The worst wasn't even that they all died, but the degredation of Narnia before the final flood. It was very painful to read. Not painful as in it traumatized me or anything like that. Just painful and difficult and most of all, bewildering.
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#22 of 48 Old 11-25-2008, 01:59 PM
 
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Plus he killed Susan off and left her dead (allegorically, in hell), if I remember correctly.

Still, I don't think the books are unduly disturbing IF you aren't a particularly sensitive six-year-old. But the OP's son is, and I'd choose something else.

Hey, it's not a series, but he might like The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom Planet, or Lloyd Alexander's Time Cat.
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#23 of 48 Old 11-25-2008, 02:32 PM
 
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Daffodil, I think it's great that your dd wasn't bothered by TLB; I guess some kids don't see it the way I did. I just saw it as a horrible betrayal of everything in all the other books. The worst wasn't even that they all died, but the degredation of Narnia before the final flood. It was very painful to read. Not painful as in it traumatized me or anything like that. Just painful and difficult and most of all, bewildering.
This is reminding me to make sure my children read Narnia in the original order instead of the "new" order that puts The Magician's Nephew first.

http://g-ecx.images-amazon.com/image...._AA240_.L.jpg

It is probably best to go into TLB with the Magician's Nephew freshly in mind.

As for Susan, Lewis was not what Americans would call Evangelical or Fundamentalist enough to send Susan to a punishing hell. And after all, she's not even dead.
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#24 of 48 Old 11-25-2008, 02:43 PM
 
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Plus he killed Susan off and left her dead (allegorically, in hell), if I remember correctly.
Oh, you're right! I just looked back through the book because I didn't remember that at all, and it's true - Susan doesn't end up there in the allegorical heaven with the rest of them. They mention earlier how she isn't a friend of Narnia anymore, and then they don't mention her again and by the end I had forgotten all about her and that she wasn't there. But I don't think she was on the train that crashed, either, so I don't think we have to conclude that she's dead and in hell.
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#25 of 48 Old 11-25-2008, 04:30 PM
 
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Oops, my bad -- I hadn't read the book in ages. I knew she was left out, but at least she wasn't dead.
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#26 of 48 Old 11-25-2008, 06:00 PM
 
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Poor Susan. Her only crime was liking lipsticks and nylons and going to parties. No Narnia for her!
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#27 of 48 Old 11-25-2008, 10:11 PM
 
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Poor Susan. Her only crime was liking lipsticks and nylons and going to parties. No Narnia for her!
Snort. That female maturation is so problematic...if only she'd stayed a nice girl.

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#28 of 48 Old 11-26-2008, 01:49 AM
 
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Aslan tells Susan that she won't be coming back to Narnia, because she needs to find him in "the real world."

I agree with pigpokey, the "new ordering" of the books is bad. The original ordering is much better and allows you to enter Narnia first, and then grow to understand what it means.

My son is sensitive, and we will be holding out on the last battle for awhile... Even though we are Catholic, death still has an existential weight that I'm not going to put on my kid at this point--not for beloved literature characters. But the other books are great and arguably *should* be read when you are sensitive (like you really out grow that, HA! not me) and receptive. Although I loved them as an adult, but I know it is different for me then for my son. I am almost envious of him and his book world.

The Mushroom books look awesome! My kids love mushrooms, and my 4 year-old is writing a book about mushrooms... so we'll look for that at the library for sure.

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#29 of 48 Old 11-26-2008, 03:06 AM
 
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I don't quite get why some people think The Last Battle is too much for a young kid. My DD didn't find it any more disturbing than the others.
It's funny, I was just talking about this today with my 14yo dd. She had written a children's story for her writing class and I was facetiously analyzing the stink out of it in terms of themes of sexuality and adolescence -- just for some silly fun -- and we got on a tangent talking about levels of meaning in children's stories. We talked about TLB, "The Capture" from the Guardians of Ga'hoole series, and Neil Gaiman's "Coraline" all as examples of books which are just straightforward fairly-tale-like adventure tales until you reach a certain level of maturity at which point they become pretty darn disturbing.

"The Last Battle" probably wouldn't be as disturbing for someone was had been or was being raised in a household where the moral concept of a Christian heaven and hell had already been explored in less a emotionally-laden, plot-driven manner. Growing up in an atheist family I found it extremely disturbing as an 8-year-old. And wow, the fascist mind-control brainwashing stuff in Ga'hoole and the totally creepy "other parents" with button eyes in the world where everything is just lovely in "Coraline" ... for adolescents and adults those are seriously creepy.

So anyway, my elder dd said she had found all of these books very creepy. She'd encountered them between ages 8 and 10. My middle dd, though, had been around 5 when she'd either read them to herself or heard them read aloud, and had found them simply fun stories. Within the past year she's re-read them all and agrees with my elder dd that they're quite disturbing.

So I think there may be a maturity paradox with some stories -- that the more mature reader, who is able to read and understand beyond the literal, might be more disturbed by them.

Miranda

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#30 of 48 Old 11-26-2008, 01:10 PM
 
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What is the original order of the Narnia books?
Since my 6yo just read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe she's been asking for the next one. I got Prince Caspian at the library today...I believe that to be the 2nd in the series.

I'd like to read them as the author originally intended them to be.


To the OP, how is your move going?
What is your son reading?
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