I’ve decided to take the week off from reading anything “blogworthy”. I just finished a long book (“Playing to the Edge”) and I’m getting ready to tackle an even longer one (Stephen King’s “11.22.63”), so I’m resting my brain.
Instead, I’m hoping to have some dialogue about something that’s been on my mind for several months now: classic books that today’s generation of kids will enjoy.
First, a little background. I have twins who were in seventh grade last year. I typically try to read one or two books that they or their class read during the school year, just to have an extra source of connection with them. For example, we read “The Book Thief” together (made me cry), and also “The Westing Game” (a clever, age appropriate mystery).
Last year, they were given the assignment to select and read a “classic”. What constitutes a “classic” is probably open to all kinds of debate, but I settled on a definition of kind of old and kind of famous. Based on that, I provided my daughters with a list of about ten suggestions. I had read about half the books on the list and the other half were an educated guess. The list contained standards like “Little Women” and “Swiss Family Robinson”. I also included an Agatha Christie and a Sherlock Holmes novel on the list because I remember enjoying them when I was that age.
One of my girls chose “A Wrinkle in Time” and the other picked the Agatha Christie novel, “And Then There Were None”. I decided to also read / reread them.
As for “A Wrinkle in Time”, I really wanted to like it. Book reviewers on Amazon reminisce lovingly about how much that book meant to them when they were kids. So I had high hopes. But I didn’t really like it and I thought maybe it was because I’m not the target audience. However, my daughter was lukewarm about it, too. She explained that she just doesn’t like classics.
“And Then There Were None” didn’t quite hold the same magic for me as it did when I was a kid. The plot is still a clever mystery, but the writing now seems too quaint to me. I know it’s just a reflection of a different time, but I’m also sure that’s why many people have a difficult time getting into classics. At some point, my daughter just jumped to the end of the book to find out whodunit.
So now that I’ve trashed two popular classics… I’m curious what other people have experienced with getting their kids to read the classics. What have they liked? What did YOU like when you were a kid?