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#1 of 34 Old 01-22-2011, 09:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I just found the book What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know, at the thrift store for a dollar.  I'm looking through it now and almost the entire book is devoted to "classics", such as Aesop's fables and nursery rhymes.  Honestly, we haven't spent any time with these.  I don't feel the are important, and I don't particularly care for them.  

How important do you feel these classics are, and how much focus do you put on them? 

 

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#2 of 34 Old 01-22-2011, 10:46 AM
 
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I love the Core Curriculum What your ... Needs to Know and read a little bit from the Preschooler, Third and Fourth grade editions every day.  We study lots of other things and I wouldn't necessarily say that we focus on Classics in what we do as a whole, but I realized from our brief foray in a school that one of the things I thought was missing was a core of classical education. I think this was missing in my education also and I love learning things along with the kids.  For instance, just yesterday we read in the Third Grade edition about the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage.  I had heard of the wars and of Carthage (which happens to be modern day Tunis and very much in the news, so we were able to tie it to current events) but I had no idea what they were, even though I had a liberal arts education and was a history major in college.  Instead of seeing these things as bits of a classical education that have fallen out of our standard teaching, I see them as important pieces of human knowledge that I want my kids to have as part of a well-rounded education.  

I sometimes hear people say that these series are overwhelming or feeling like it pressures them to put an emphasis on classical teachings, but I really like what they add to our day.  They are certainly not the spine of our curriculum, though there is a whole homeschool (and public school) curriculum based around the Core Curriculum espoused by Ed Hirsch (the editor of the What Your...Needs to Know).  

 

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#3 of 34 Old 01-22-2011, 11:08 AM
 
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omw out the door right now so don't have a ton of time, but i do read that kinda stuff to my dds. i don't exactly know why i feel its important, i just feel like it creates a good balance to a lot of the cartoony stuff that's out there now.


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#4 of 34 Old 01-22-2011, 11:17 AM
 
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There are so many references to "classics" like Aesop's fables and nursery rhymes - in other literature, in casual conversation, etc. - that it's useful to be familiar with them.  If you hear someone talking about sour grapes or a dog in the manger, it's nice to know what they mean.  And those fables and nursery rhymes can be enjoyable just for themselves, too.  There's a reason they've become classics. 

 

But there are hundreds of other things that are also useful to know and interesting to learn about, and I don't think classics are any more or less important than most of those other things.  If your kid grows up without ever being exposed to Aesop's fables, there will be a little gap in his knowledge, but so will there be if he doesn't know what a monotreme is, or whether Chester A. Arthur was a good president, or how to read music, or how to play chess.  Everyone has gaps in their knowledge and it's no big deal.

 

If you're not interested in the classics, I think there's no harm in ignoring them entirely. There's certainly no need to learn about them in kindergarten.

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#5 of 34 Old 01-22-2011, 11:29 AM
 
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I don't feel they're particularly "need to know" stuff for young children and I didn't read them to my kids much. I love nursery rhymes for encouraging the development of phonemic and rhythmic awareness, but there are other ways to do that and anyway we had pretty much moved beyond nursery rhymes by age 4 or so. We enjoyed reading some Aesop during times when the kids were into all things ancient, but if they hadn't had that interest we wouldn't have bothered. I think it's good to have a literary appreciation for fables as a genre, of which Aesop's are a wonderful representation, but I honestly think that comes best in adolescence or later, when one has the ability to compare and contrast different types of symbolism. 

 

"What Your ___ Grader Needs to Know" is just "What E.D. Hirsch Thinks ____ Graders Should Know." My kindergarteners certainly had very different ideas about what they needed to know than E.D. Hirsch would have suggested ... and I chose to follow their interests. Honestly, for a young child I think beautiful poetic books like "Owl Moon" or moral tales like "The Quiltmaker's Gift" and "Old Turtle" are better literary fare. 

 

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#6 of 34 Old 01-22-2011, 12:34 PM
 
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I think they are an incredibly important foundation for children.


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#7 of 34 Old 01-22-2011, 01:28 PM
 
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I don't put a lot of focus on them because I'm not a fan of magic and witches and such. I put all focus on Bible stories.

Actually, a lot of those fables have terrible values imo. Like Jack and the Beanstalk, all I get out of that story is stealing.

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#8 of 34 Old 01-22-2011, 02:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks for the responses!  Now that I think about it, I do think that not knowing these things does lead to a gap in knowledge.  At the same time, I don't like many of the "lessons" in the stories.


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#9 of 34 Old 01-22-2011, 02:36 PM
 
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E.D. Hirsch's deal is that he believes there's a base level of cultural knowledge that adults should possess in order to be functional members of society.  In order to understand references in books or movies, in order to understand current events, just plain in order to get a joke or a reference that someone else makes in a normal conversation.  

 

The "what your n grader needs to know" were written as supplements for parents of public schoolers to use at home, so parents can make sure their kids get that foundation.

 

Of course, it's really just what one person thinks is important.  But I, personally, am a hug fan of Hirsch and his core knowledge curriculum and his work in education.  I really like those books, and think that they're great supplements to whatever other curriculum or materials you use.  I've read most of the books he's written, and they've really profoundly changed the way that I look at learning and public education.


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You can use them as a spring board for conversation. Ask you child what they think the "lesson" of the story is, ask them if they agree. Ask them how it relates to their life and what they notice about other people.

I think it's good to spend most of our reading time with our children with books we truly enjoy, but mixing it up a bit with other stuff can lead to interesting conversations.

but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#11 of 34 Old 01-22-2011, 09:45 PM
 
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I'm not interested in the fables or most nursery rhymes. I have little knowledge of them myself. Somehow I have gotten to adulthood, had a professional career, gotten married, been certified by the courts (and chosen by a birthmom) to adopt, purchased several houses, made many friends, had many interesting conversations, traveled to Europe multiple times and made friends there, and much more. I just haven't noticed any problems in my life because I don't know much about those particular pieces of writing.. So, my kids aren't being exposed to fables or nursery rhymes. They are exposed to rhymes in many of the books we read each day because of the importance of rhyme in learning to read. However, they are rhymes that we all enjoy.


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#12 of 34 Old 01-23-2011, 09:38 AM
 
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I think they're very important to know if your kids watch mainstream TV shows.

 

It's a little embarrassing when your kid blurts out "I saw that on Backyardigans!" when someone references a well-known story ROTFLMAO.gif

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#13 of 34 Old 01-23-2011, 11:04 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ocelotmom View Post

I think they're very important to know if your kids watch mainstream TV shows.

 

It's a little embarrassing when your kid blurts out "I saw that on Backyardigans!" when someone references a well-known story ROTFLMAO.gif


lol :)


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#14 of 34 Old 01-23-2011, 12:08 PM
 
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I think they are an incredibly important foundation for children.



 ITA

 

there are things eveyone simply needs to understand -- the correct number of pigs, what it means to cry wolf, and so on -- it is simply foudantion knowledge.

 

and really -- sorry to be mean -- if you are NOT reading the classics (Jack and the Bean Stalk, The Little Red Hen and so on) what is there out there that is not cheap TV (dora and so on).

 

now to be bored by the "adult classics" such as Moby Dick, i can see -- and there is surely a lot more "out there" in the adult world -- but for kids *shrug* that is what there is that is good.

 

But if the version in what you ___ should know bore you, or the newers copies at the local store ... go for the older editions, better art, better text ...

 


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#15 of 34 Old 01-23-2011, 12:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Momma Aimee View Post

and really -- sorry to be mean -- if you are NOT reading the classics (Jack and the Bean Stalk, The Little Red Hen and so on) what is there out there that is not cheap TV (dora and so on).

 

now to be bored by the "adult classics" such as Moby Dick, i can see -- and there is surely a lot more "out there" in the adult world -- but for kids *shrug* that is what there is that is good.


I'd have to disagree with that.  Have you spent much time browsing your library?  There's a ton of good stuff for kids out there besides classic fairy tales, fables, and nursery rhymes.  And, as much as I love children's fiction and poetry, I don't think it's necessary for kids to spend time on any of it if they are or their parents aren't interested.  If a kid never hears a single fairy tale but spends hours observing birds and insects, building things, learning about outer space, drawing and painting, or whatever else he happens to be interested in, I think that's fine.  You don't HAVE to know what it means to cry wolf, any more than you HAVE to know how to tell true bugs from other insects, or how many light years away Aldebaran is, or how Monet's painting were different from Manet's.

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#16 of 34 Old 01-23-2011, 12:48 PM
 
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Aimee, I totally agree with you on going waaay back to some of the REALLY old classics.

 

One of the best things we are going to take from this year is a study of fairy tales and their cultural impacts upon the world. For instance, there's a French Sleeping beauty and an Italian Sleeping Beauty. Both end differently and culturally both make me laugh when I read them. The French language is soooo well, florid. It's not just a beautiful day Belle is wandering through. It's gorgeous day with a flaming sun casting gentle shadows upon lily green fields. And the Italians? Who cares about the weather - tell us what Belle had for breakfast!!! lol

 

And darned if my two trips to Europe didn't seem culturally accurate to the stories. The Italian moms were preparing dinner whilst we ate breakfast. The French moms were chattering away about the beauty of their gardens, etc. etc.

 

My kids and I have had the most amazing discussions this winter.

 

But not only that, we have had a ton of interesting stories about "fairy tales" of the past. Randolph Caledcott (from the Caldecott book award) was a lovely illustrator but who writes an epic poem about two kids whose parents both die, are dropped off on an uncle who wants their money so he pays a couple of hunters to kill them? And oh, the kids die lost and alone on the woods. I mean, when was that appropriate to read to kids? Before bed? At lunch? Were kids just tougher then??

 

We treat fairy tales like we treat the bible. There are some lovely myths in there but times were very different in the past. And you can know fairy tales without believing your next door neighbor is a canibalistic witch.


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#17 of 34 Old 01-23-2011, 01:40 PM
 
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and really -- sorry to be mean -- if you are NOT reading the classics (Jack and the Bean Stalk, The Little Red Hen and so on) what is there out there that is not cheap TV (dora and so on).

  



Hmmm...this is definitely open to what people believe is "valuable" literature. Personally, using Jack and the Bean Stalk as an example again, I don't find it valuable. I rather read Bible stories to my kiddos.

 

Like the other poster suggested, check out your library. Check out some of the booklists like Peak With Books and the "non-fairy tale" books on the Sonlight booklists. Or authors who won The Caldecott Medal, The Little House series, Dr. Suess, books on the Scholastic website, Eric Carle, etc.

 

I don't think you NEED to include fairy tale type stories to give your child well rounded literature exposure.

 

And there are some "Classic" stories that we do include - we like The Little Red Hen, for example.

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#18 of 34 Old 01-23-2011, 02:16 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Momma Aimee View Post

 

and really -- sorry to be mean -- if you are NOT reading the classics (Jack and the Bean Stalk, The Little Red Hen and so on) what is there out there that is not cheap TV (dora and so on).

 

 

Hmmm.. I don't understand this.  Like I said, we haven't read the classics yet.  But we have also never read anything from television (well, she does have a Blue's Clue's book).  We also never watch those shows.  She watches 1 hour of tv a week, and the only choices are Kipper and Signing Time dvd.

We read beautifully illustrated books, poetry (both children's and adult), standard children's literature (the Snowy Day, Good Night Moon, Only the Cat Saw, Dr. Seuss).  Of course we also read some of the fun and cheesy books- Biscuit series, Sandra Boynton, etc.  I don't think that it's either classics or crap.... 

 


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#19 of 34 Old 01-23-2011, 04:16 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Momma Aimee View Post

and really -- sorry to be mean -- if you are NOT reading the classics (Jack and the Bean Stalk, The Little Red Hen and so on) what is there out there that is not cheap TV (dora and so on).

 


Wow, Momma Aimee, have a look. There's some simply awesome modern children's literature out there. Visually stunning, poetically evocative, thought-provoking, value-laden. We've never owned any Disney or Nickelodean books or merchandise and we've found no end of wonderful modern books for young children. 

 

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#20 of 34 Old 01-23-2011, 06:08 PM
 
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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.


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#21 of 34 Old 01-23-2011, 08:08 PM
 
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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. 

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#22 of 34 Old 01-23-2011, 08:21 PM
 
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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!


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#23 of 34 Old 01-24-2011, 05:25 AM
 
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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

 

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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!




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#24 of 34 Old 01-24-2011, 05:53 AM
 
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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 


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#25 of 34 Old 01-24-2011, 05:55 AM
 
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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

 

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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. :)
 


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#26 of 34 Old 01-24-2011, 12:28 PM
 
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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

 


 

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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.




Aimee + Scott = Theodore Roosevelt (11/05) and 23 months later Charles Abraham (10/07)....praying for a little sister; the search starts May 2014
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#27 of 34 Old 01-24-2011, 01:15 PM
 
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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.
 

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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

 

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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. :)
 




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#28 of 34 Old 01-24-2011, 01:16 PM
 
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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

 


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#29 of 34 Old 01-25-2011, 06:33 AM
 
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#30 of 34 Old 01-25-2011, 09:22 AM
 
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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.


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