Reading Classics- UPDATED!

Our homeschool follows the guidelines of The Well Trained Mind, which has students cycling three times through the same material on increasingly more difficult levels. Each of the three cycles corresponds with a phase of growth that young people go through, known in Classical circles as the Grammar stage, Logic stage, and Rhetoric stage.

Keeping this in mind, know that I buy a fifth-grade book to read aloud to my first grader. Then she reads it on her own in fifth grade, and then she reads a more difficult version of it in ninth grade. This happens for each grade level. For instance, in second grade it would be a sixth-grade book and then a tougher version in tenth grade.

Geraldine McCaughrean's scintillating way of retelling legend is why Susan Wise Bauer selects her renditions for us to read. We don't want these books to be presented as a dry lesson with a worksheet to follow, but as an amazing adventure! McCaughrean can do it! We've enjoyed her versions of at least four or five books (see below).

One more comment about the reading cycle: For all of McCaughrean's books, because they are written to a higher age group, when I read them to my elementary kids out loud, I do some fast editing. In Hercules, I left out that he was assigned the 12 tasks because he killed his wife, 6 kids, in-laws, and servants in a drunken rage. In her Gilgamesh the Hero, I left out that a naked woman's sweet kisses tamed the wild Enkidu. Let them learn all that when they're older.

Her books usually have no illustrations other than the front cover. However, many times when I was reading, my kids would suddenly jump up and run over to me, demanding to see the pictures because of the vivid descriptions. The chapters were a good length to read in one session to freshly bathed and pyjamaed kids. My younger daughter (2 then) came in and out of the room and looked at other picture books, but she was quiet because she saw that the older kids were enthralled.

Geraldine McCaughrean's talent is what makes these classics come to life- and coming back to them in a few years will be a joy and not something for my kids to be intimidated by.

Whenever I am able to pass something just excellent on to you, my dear readers, I will. I was thumbing through a catalog recently and found an AMAZING article on How to Choose Children's Literature. I was floored, and re-read it right away.

I can't tell you how it has helped me focus on what to think of when I am trying to determine if a book is good enough to be bought or borrowed. What we read really, really affects our worldview. The way people and attitudes are presented mean so much. Our children really internalize what they read.

I was even thinking about printing this off to give to the grandparents! Maybe I'll just keep coming back to it. When you go to the link, scroll down a few inches- go grab a cup of coffee, it's long!

HERE's a post on my blog comparing classical literature to modern books aimed at children, such as "Junie B. Jones."

I'm so pleased you are utilizing Classical Curriculum!
Teresa (Tracy) Dear

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