Tuesday, October 6, 2009

classics never go out of style

Kids these days are reading, but they're missing the classics. Mr. T did Battle of the Books last year and read some amazing books--I've no qualm with him reading Goosebumps so long as it's balanced out with quality books like Hoot. School curriculums include more contemporary writers, which is great, but I yearn for my tribe to appreciate the stories of my childhood, too. Unfortunately three boys haven't shown an eagerness for Betsy-Tacy or Dancing Shoes or Anne of Green Gables. But they did listen with interest as I read aloud The Wizard of Oz, The Great Brain, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, Robinson Crusoe and Treasure Island. I have The Black Stallion, Abel's Island, The Cricket in Times Square and The Secret Garden on deck. What other classic children's books do young boys need to hear read aloud before bedtime? Do you think they can handle Little Men?

Tell me, reader, are you reading the classics to your kids or is it all contemporary? Is there value in dusting off Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer?


  1. Does Dr. Suess, Cinderella and Snow White count as classics? I know you are quivering at the thought.

  2. I loved coaching Battle of the Books because it gave me more excuses to read great children's literature.

    Oh you must read them Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh. Also, The Hobbit, Johnny Tremain, The Boxcar Children (Book 1) and any of Jack London's books.

    Def be sure to read T.S. and H.F. but I'm not sure they'd dig Little Men. I only say that because I loved it and boys don't tend to dig my girly books.

    And one contemporary one to add to the list of classics: Holes.

    I love read-alouds. They are the best way to engage children in books they might have otherwise avoided.


  3. We've got a mix of stuff going on -- both the classics and the new stuff. And, I am pleased to report that, so far, I am pleased with the books in my 5th grader's language arts class. They just finished "Tuck Everlasting," which I qualify as contemporary and have just started on "Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry."

  4. To Kill A Mockingbird...LUV LUV it.

    I also loved as a child the Ramona series by Beverly Cleary. I remember when I was 8, I got the hard cover version of the book Ramona Quimby, Age 8. I thought it was the best present ever. Thanks Mom- I know you a reading.

    I don't think the boys are reading for HF--even my sophomores really can't "handle" the dense vocab. Stick with TS, and leave HF for later.

    Of Mice and Men is also a fav.

  5. My kids still ask me to read aloud Winnie the Pooh when they are sick. I guess all those years of bedtime readalouds are comforting and they yearn for it again when laid low by an illness. Winnie the Pooh has many different levels that you get at different ages.

  6. I ADORE The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. And Henry Huggins and Beezus and Ramona. My kids are grown up but we have all these. Along with a trillion zillion others. My girls really liked the Dear America books. They still won't even let me pack them away and both girls are in their 20's now.

  7. No kids to read to, but classics are classics for a reason - they stand the test of time.

    Dunno about Little Men for boys, it's still kind of a girly book, isn't it? How about Johnny Tremain? Oh, how I loved that book!

    The Littles, The Borrowers, and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle...maybe a little less "classic" but great reads.

    Shoot, I may have to stop at the children's section of the library on my way home tonight!

  8. Your boys, I think, would be able to Identify with Ramona and her hijinks. Especially when they deal with Henry Higguns and Ribsy the dog.

    They'd also love Johnny Tremain.

    What about Farmer Boy in the little house series? It's more manly than the Laura IW tales.

    OHHHH!!!! Read them Where the Red Fern Grows! and Old Yeller! LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!!!

    I want to come over and read to the boys. You can have the Kitty for a little girl cuddlying and do her hair.

  9. I am almost all classics because I am not very contemporary. I just know what my mother read to me as a child and am following in her literary footsteps. Babou's favorite is Babar, and we found some Robert McCloskey at the library. She is will start Betsy and Tacy soon. I still read Betsy and Tacy for God's sake! Every Christmas I read about the Ray family Christmas season in Heaven to Betsy to get in the Spirit. It works every time!

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  11. Anne of Green Gables is one of my FAVORITE books - but I can see how boys might not dig it. :)

    I also loved Cricket in Times Square and The Secret Garden.

    One book that my grandma gave to me when I was a kid, and I never thought I would like is...Tarzan. That was such a great book, and I think boys would like it.

    When my 7yr old daughter got totally involved in Junie B Jones - I knew she would like Ramona as well, and now she is hooked!

    Since I don't have boys, it's hard for me to think of what they would they might like to read. Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn have to be on the list though I would think. Ummmm...Hardy Boys?? :)

  12. I did read The Box Car Children with my boys a few months back.

  13. Betsy-Tacy! The best! And The Little Princess! Little Women! A Tree Grows in Brooklyn!

    Not for boys, though...sorry!

    My boys read the Lloyd Alexander books - he's a good author for the 11-year-old set. Also, Calvin and Hobbes (fantastic vocabulary!) and TinTin (ditto).

  14. My kids have done a damnably good job at resisting the classics. My daughter--GET THIS--doesn't always like old-fashionedy things, so I got one LITTLE HOUSE into her and one BETSY-TACEY. SECRET GARDEN has sat on the shelf for two years now, awaiting her touch.

    I've shown my son THE GREAT BRAIN but have been rebuffed. On some long car trip, though, I'm going to whip it out on him.

    I guess I'm going to be happy they both read all. the. time. Every now and then, something of better quality slips in, like Kate di Camillo or THE PENDERWICKS, and I realize new classics are being written all the time.

    Seriously: THE PENDERWICKS and THE PENDERWICKS OF GARDAM STREET. My favorite kid books...intended for girls, but my son likes the youngest daughter a lot.

  15. Great post! My girls have always amazed me how they skipped most contemporary YA novels for the classics. Here I'm writing picture books about little rats who eat pickles, and my girls are reading Twain or Poe. Bizarre.

    Right now I'm reading My Side of the Mountain to my boys in school and they're LOVING it! We found the sequel at a little indie bookshop in West Yellowstone recently, so we can't wait to start on that.

  16. Both classics and new authors, really. Look for books by Jerry Spinnelli and Gary Paulsen and Andrew Clements. My personal favorite: Christopher Paul Curtis. Bud, not Buddy; The Watsons go to Birmingham, 1963; and (read it with a tissue box) Elijah of Buxton.

  17. Oh, yes, if you read Holes, don't miss Small Steps. It's more spin-off than sequel, and it's an excellent story.

  18. Shortman LOVED 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. (And Treasure Island.)

  19. We have 3 boys...alternating reading to them and then them reading aloud. I would say anything with action to keep their attention...our oldest read Huck Finn last year and really enjoyed it. We just finished the Iliad and are starting Journey to the Center of the Earth. Immersing them in the classics now makes takes the stigma of it being "hard" when they're older! Good luck and enjoy whatever you decide to read!

  20. Huck Finn is excellent and much-loved, but difficult to read aloud. Maybe easier for Americans! The Hobbit is one of our faves, and the older boys love the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz: James Bond for young 'uns, and very modern.

    The Classic fairy tales from Brothers' Grimm, and from Japan and Greece and so on, are really fun especially if you can get a beautifully illustrated version. We just finished a book of Japanese Tales, and compared it to another one we had read recently. Both good, some of the same stories re-told.

    Chas has loved the new-ish "Wolf Brother" by Michelle Paver on Audiobook. Scary though! A great boys' story.

    The Illiad and The Oddessy.

    The Little House On The Prarie Series! The boys really loved those, including "Farmer Boy".

    We STILL love Winnie the Pooh.

    The Wind In The Willows. Audiobooks are so good for long drives, and the classics are available in a hundred different versions.

    How To Train Your Dragon, by Cressida Crowell. We just finished book 7!

    I'll stop there!

  21. Johnny Tremain is pretty awesome, and there's Where the Red Fern Grows, Old Yeller, The yearling, A Separate Peace, anything J.D. Salinger, The Phantom Tollbooth, The Prince, Little Lord Fonteleroy (sp?). Wow, when you get down to thinking about it, there are a few. My girls and I just listened to the audio version of Bud, Not Buddy. Awesome boy read. We're now listening to Anne of Green Gables. I finally found something to do during that 20 min ride to and from school. Audio books!

  22. We are definitely enjoying some contemporary authors like Rick Riordan and J.K. Rowling, but we will not be abandoning Mark Twain anytime soon. Middle Child read The Secret Garden over and over and over. The Boy blew through everything Tolkien had to offer.

  23. For old fashioned adventure they might like "Gulliver's travels" and "Swiss Family Robinson".

  24. My husband just read 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea to my sons, which left him to explain cannibalism, ahem. We are also starting the Narnia books and have been reading a bunch of old Indian stories like the Ramayana for Children. And I agree with @sweetbabboo, the Rats of Nimh is great!

  25. Johnny Tremain is one of my all-time favorite books ever. Or is it The Witch of Blackbird Pond? Then of course there's the Little House books . . . start your boys with Farmer Boy--that hooked my sons.


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