Excuse me while I drool. For part of my Inspired by SLE a Reading List for Children Part #3 I purchased Who Was Anne Frank, Who Was Charles Darwin and Classic Starts: Frankenstein. Now it’s only a matter of time before my wallet starts burning and I order a whole bunch more from both the “Who Was” and “Classic Starts” series.
Bruce(7) was already familiar with the “Who Was” series, because it is responsible for his highly detailed knowledge of the Beatles and Harry Houdini. When I sat down to read the Anne Frank and Charles Darwin books, I was really impressed by how the publishers covered serious material in a safe way for children. That they could make history seem so entertaining for young readers, was an added bonus. Unfortunately, our public library system only has a handful of the “Who Was” series, which is really disappointing.
As for the “Classic Starts” series, I was totally unfamiliar with it until I read their version of Frankenstein. I was really impressed how the publishers were able to translate the story into something that was easy and fun for kids to read, without losing the big-picture themes of the story. There are discussion questions at the end of the book, as well as a short essay for parents by Arthur Pober, EdD. This is what he writes:
“Reading an abridged version of a classic novel gives the young reader a sense of independence and the satisfaction of finishing a “grown-up” book. And when a child is engaged with and inspired by a classic story, the tone is set for further exploration of the story’s themes, characters, history, and details. As a child’s reading skills advance, the desire to tackle the original, unabridged version of the story will naturally emerge… When we look at the issues, values, and standards of past times in terms of how we live now, we can appreciate literature’s classic tales in a very personal and engaging way.” (pp.151-152)
Exactly! That’s exactly what I’m trying to do with my kids through all three of my Inspired by SLE Reading lists. I know my seven-year-old was able to finish off that version of Frankenstein in less than 40 minutes, but I also know that since it will be floating around our home library for the next few years, that he is likely to read it again and again. Gouge me in the wallet now, but I want the entire “Classic Starts” collection!
Here’s what I’m going to do in the meantime (before I win the lottery). I’m adding both series to my Grandma Please by This! page. That will at least be a good start. Any of these books would be great future presents for Grandma and Grandpa to buy.