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Episode Discussions > Episode 20 Children's and YA books

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message 1: by Becky (new)

Becky Yamarik | 74 comments Very interesting episode for the mother of a three yr old and a 10 mth old. Wally is on my list of books to get, I had forgotten those. My 3 yr old Sam really enjoys looking for goldbug in the Richard Scarry books which is similar.

Did you ever have the Topsy and Tim (1970s) books as kids? or these funny children's series by Adam Coleman (late 80s early 90s) about working class kids in England with single parents. . . the adventures of William who watches too much TV and his friend Hamid, the family who's mum buys a new car and then forgets where she parked it and beats up a policeman who she thinks is stealing it. . . all very funny cheap paperbacks. A friend who's "mum" is English and saved them all has lent them to us and we and our son love them.

On children reading Dickens, I read Tale of Two Cities and Oliver Twist on my own (not for school) when I was 12. What a bad idea, it was just such hard going that I gave up on Dickens for over 20 years. Just rediscovered him in the last few years and now he's on my Literary Mt Rushmore. I would encourage you to read Great Expectations, Simon. It definitely feels more like chocolate cake than boiled carrots. I have read two Margaret Atwoods (Blind Assassin and Oryx and Crake) at your urging and if you like her you'll like Dickens. . . not that I'm any Amazon computer program or anything.


message 2: by Elizabeth☮ (new)

Elizabeth☮ i just started listening to this episode! i love it.

as a child, i loved books. my parents didn't read to me, but i am lucky that i had five older siblings, four of them readers. my oldest brother single-handedly made sure i read. he gave me the classics like Charlotte's Web and Island of the Blue Dolphins. when i got older, he gave me The Hobbit and poetry by the romantics.

i read to my six year old every night. and now she is beginning to read on her own. right now she is reading
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. she reads to her baby sister too.

before the baby, we went to the library weekly. our librarians have watched siani (6 yrs) grow up. we make them cupcakes for christmas and give them candy on the other holidays. at school, siani goes to the library once a week. she typically chooses non-fiction books about elements of nature.

now our baby, azaria (seven months) will know the library in the same way.

i don't think children under the age of ten could grasp dickens. i read Great Expectations in high school. and i recently read A Tale of Two Cities as an adult and i really struggled through it. but, i do think we should all read one dickens novel so you can say, "that's why it's considered a classic."


message 3: by Onaona (new)

Onaona (vaashti) | 2 comments Thank you for this episode on children's and YA books. I am particularly interested now that I have a young son. Right now, at 17 months, he is really just into picture books, particularly about trucks/trains/airplanes/anything that goes. Books are his favorite toys and that thrills me to no end.

Elizabeth, I love that your children are so familiar with the library. With all the discussion of the decline of bookstores, I've been disappointed that the enthusiasm has not shifted to libraries (or not as much as I'd hoped). Our local public library was such a big part of my childhood and I want my kid(s?!) to appreciate the library in the same way. So we're starting early as well! :)

I was an avid reader as a child. I read all the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Three Investigators, Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Paula Danziger, Encyclopedia Brown, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle that my library had to offer, as well as many Newbery Award winning books. That said, my favorite book as a child was Jacob Have I Loved. Oh, that book *got* me.

I have never read Dickens, even in adulthood. When I was 13, my mom made me read Ivanhoe, which I absolutely hated and turned me off to classics of any kind. In hindsight, I appreciate her effort, but I wonder if it would have been more successful to gradually introduce me to the world of Adult fiction rather than hand me a book that even most adults would not voluntarily read. I think parents should be involved in their children's reading lives (and lives in general, obviously) but its also important to pay attention to their child's literary tastes and guide them accordingly.


message 4: by Victoria (new)

Victoria (Eve's Alexandria) | 3 comments I don't have children and don't have any intention of starting a family, but I've often thought what a wonderful thing it would be to introduce a little person to the wonderful world of reading. I don't remember my parents reading to me, but my mum and I did go to the library every week from the age of 5 until I was 16. I remember the little cardboard tickets, before it was all computerised. As an under 12 I was only allowed 5 tickets, so only 5 books, but I convinced my mum to get 5 for my younger brother too (not a library goer!) so I could have 10 at a time.

There wasn't such a thing as a 'Young Adult' section at the library as far as I remember. There just came a time when I started wandering into adult fiction too. Terry Pratchett was my 'cross-over' point I think - I read his children's books, and then segued straight over into Discworld. It makes me think that YA is a bit of a false marketing category. I know that if I was a young adult now I'd feel patronised by the whole idea of it. If we expect 13 year olds to study and comprehend Shakespeare it hardly seems necessary to pitch special fiction at them.

The thing about reading Dickens by the age of 11 is silly I think. I hope the minister means that children should have been introduced to emotionally complex fiction by 11 more generally, but that can come in a much more accessible guise. It's not that children are incapable of understanding him but that Dickens is of a different age and his prose style is alien. You have to grow your reading comprehension to the point where you can get over the alienation of it. Some children will be able to do that by 11 and others not. I hate the idea of prescribing it like literary medicine!


message 5: by Simon (new)

Simon (savidgereads) | 449 comments Mod
Becky wrote: "Very interesting episode for the mother of a three yr old and a 10 mth old. Wally is on my list of books to get, I had forgotten those. My 3 yr old Sam really enjoys looking for goldbug in the Rich..."

I will try and read Great Expectations but I think with all this talk of Dickens he is doing my head in and that might not be the best place to start.

I had forgotten about Topsy and Tim!!!


message 6: by Simon (new)

Simon (savidgereads) | 449 comments Mod
Elizabeth wrote: "i just started listening to this episode! i love it.

as a child, i loved books. my parents didn't read to me, but i am lucky that i had five older siblings, four of them readers. my oldest broth..."


I have never read The Wizard of Oz books... that's something I should rectify!


message 7: by Elizabeth☮ (new)

Elizabeth☮ siani, my daughter, finished on her own. when i told her there are others, her eyes went wide!


message 8: by Gail (last edited Mar 06, 2012 08:27AM) (new)

Gail | 4 comments In the school district I attended, every year the seventh grade students (age 12-13) were required to read A Christmas Carol, and then we would go see the play at the Guthrie Theater. That was light enough that it worked for us at that age. We were required to read Great Expectations two years later and, though it wasn't really bad, I have no desire to ever read Dickens again. Required reading for school also is the reason I don't like Shakespeare or Hemingway (and may I say--The Old Man and the Sea is totally inappropriate for thirteen year olds).

I never read "young adult" books. When I was eleven I leapt over to adult books and never looked back. My mother would check YA books out of the library and read them, but I never did. She still enjoys books for young people.

One thing I remember enjoying as a child was Paddington Bear. I tried to re-read them again in my thirties when my parents cleaned out their basement and gave them to me, and was disappointed to discover that they really didn't make any sense. Sometimes childhood memories should remain just that.


message 9: by Becky (new)

Becky Yamarik | 74 comments Simon wrote: "I will try and read Great Expectations but I think with all this talk of Dickens he is doing my head in and that might not be the best place to start."

I can sympathize. My only exposure to British culture is the Guardian books podcast, and I am also getting tired of the Dickens barage, even with just that.

I started using your 50 page quit rule, and I think it's a great rule. I gave up on The Time Traveller's Wife after 60 pages. I know you really liked it, too, but I just felt the whole premise was very silly and I couldn't get into it.

I found a very old edition of The Provincial Lady at the Vevey English Library and I'm very excited to read it after the other Simon recommended it! You should have him on as a guest sometime. He is very funny and interesting. . . his voice also cracks me up. . .


message 10: by Simon (new)

Simon (savidgereads) | 449 comments Mod
We may just have Simon on at some point, though two Simon's could be very confusing for Gav lol.

I am over Dickens, I might have to give up on reading him for a while.


message 11: by Esther (last edited Apr 11, 2012 10:30PM) (new)

Esther (eshchory) | 135 comments As a child I had an addiction to Enid Blyton's Famous Five series but when I was about 10/11 I announced I wanted to read more adult books so my parents had a quick discussion and then introduced me to my grandmother's collection of Agatha Christies.
Once I had read a few of those I asked if I could stray into the other book shelves. After a moment's thought my mother said to feel free and pointed out a couple of books she asked me to avoid.
One of the first books I read was 1984 which I found fascinating. I also loved the short stories of W. Somerset Maugham.
At this point I decided to graduate my library choices from the children's section to teenage fiction which at the beginning of the 1980s filled about 4 metre-wide shelves and is where I discovered Paul Zindel.


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