Posts Tagged With: Read-aloud

The Silver Chair – A Newcomer Arrives in Narnia

SONY DSC

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe may be the most familiar of the seven Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, but it is not necessarily the most thrilling. That honor belongs to The Silver Chair, the sixth book in chronological order, a tale of daring rescue, escape from man-eating giants, and being in over one’s head to fulfill a call.

In this Narnia adventure, the four Pevensies (Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy) have not been drawn by Aslan in His world; instead their unappealing cousin, Eustace Scrubb, enters the magical land with his classmate, Jill Pole. As you may know, Eustace in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader made a complete change and has become a new person. This has become evident to his school acquaintance, Jill, and is expressed by Eustace himself in the following humble and humorous fashion: “Then wash out last term if you can,” said Eustace. “I was different then, I was –gosh! What a little tick I was.”

This pair of unlikely heroes is joined by a new creature -one from C.S. Lewis’ fertile imagination, a Marsh-wiggle named Puddleglum from Ettinsmore who is all gangly limbs and pessimistic predictions.

 

silver chair 4The trio’s impossible mission is to locate the missing Prince, heir to the throne of Narnia and son of the aged King Caspian.   But Rilian disappeared without a trace over ten years earlier and their quest is fraught with mystery and both subtle and horrifying dangers.

Jill Pole as a newcomer to Narnia has no experience with Aslan, the Lion who rules this world. He is not a tame lion and she knows this instinctively in her first face to face encounter with Aslan.  His prone and majestic form lies between her and the stream she so desperately needs to drink from:

“If you are thirsty, you may drink.” …and the voice was not like a man’s. It was deeper, wilder and stronger; a sort of heavy, golden voice. It did not make her any less frightened than she had been before, but it made her frightened in rather a different way.”

“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.

“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.

“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer; “ I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”

“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.

Once she approaches and drinks, Aslan gives her the instructions for the quest: “I lay on you this command, that you seek this lost prince until either you have found him and brought him to his father’s house else died in the attempt, or else gone back to your own world.”

Jill is given the responsibility to remember four signs to guide the rescuers in their quest. Aslan gives Jill a stern command: “Repeat the signs to remember them. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs.”

Silver Chair 2

As you might imagine, Jill does not have the maturity or faith to fulfill her duty and what happens next is a series of misadventures that ultimately lead them into great peril. Join Puddleglum, Eustace, and Jill as they encounter giants from the House of Harfang, the sinister Lady of the Green Kirtle, a mysterious knight in black armor, and gnomes from the Land of Bism.

I recommend the trade paperback edition (256 pages) published in 2000 by Harper Collins with its beautiful full color illustrations by Pauline Baynes.

The Narnia Chronicles in chronological order: The Magician’s Nephew, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Horse and His Boy, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Silver Chair, and The Last Battle.

The Silver Chair was originally published in 1953 and is 4th in publication order. The website http://www.narnia.com features an interview of C.S. Lewis’ step-son Douglas Gresham who gives an update about the movie version of The Silver Chair.

 

 

Categories: British novels, Children's Books, Christian Fiction, Classics, Fantasy, Humorous, Inspiration, Read Aloud, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Use Your Voice: Share a book by reading aloud

“Next to being hugged, reading aloud is probably the longest-lasting experience of childhood.”
Jim Trelease, author of The Read-Aloud Handbook

read aloud

My maternal grandfather read to us  faithfully when we were young.  He owned the complete set of Beatrix Potter tales in old green-cloth hardbacks.  At bedtime,  I was given the privilege of choosing which one we would read. I can still remember the joy of running to the miniature bookshelf in the upstairs hallway which housed the treasures and the closeness I felt leaning against my grandfather as he read to us.

Years ago when my children became independent readers, I was inspired by the words of author Gladys Hunt to continue reading aloud: “What most parents do,… is stop sharing books as soon as a child can read alone. That makes reading a solitary happening, with no chance to talk about a book or discuss what it is saying. ” (Honey for a Teen’s Heart, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 2002).

Steve Demme, an inspirational homeschool speaker and founder of Math-U-See curriculum read at night to his four sons by positioning a chair in the hallway within earshot of his boys’ rooms and reading from there. I vividly remember when I was called on during a babysitting job to read aloud to five children at bedtime. They lined up on the couch and listened attentively while I read them the next chapter of their Narnia book. They knew where their mother had left off and they didn’t want to miss a night

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis may be a prime example of a book that is a pleasure to read aloud, and one that appeals to many age levels. I hold nothing against the movie version of this classic tale, but I do want to point out that they edit the original book. C.S.Lewis was a master of the English language.

Good literature is a pleasure to read aloud.  It rolls off the tongue and provides a wonderful opportunity for children to hear English used artistically and vividly.  It is vitally important to share your favorite childhood stories with your children.  By example, you can teach them to read with expression.  Let the younger ones participate and experience literature above their own reading level when you read something for the older children.

Another benefit of listening to books is the development of the imagination.  Encourage children to use the descriptions of place and plot to make a mental movie of what is happening in the book.  Doing the voices of the characters can be fun if there is interesting dialogue.  Also, the family member who is the usual narrator can take a break when other family members take a turn reading aloud.

During a recent school break, I pulled our family together with Dad as the reader, a practice we had neglected.  Our teen daughters participated, with some foot-dragging.  It was well worth it when my 14-year old said to her father: “Daddy, I love the sound of your reading voice.”  Trips, vacations, and sick days are all wonderful times to put in extra reading moments.

“Children are made readers on the laps of their parents.” Emilie Buchwald

honey for a child's heart

Read-Aloud Resources:

Hunt, Gladys M.. Honey for a Child’s Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.

Hunt, Gladys M., and Barbara Hampton. Honey for a Teen’s Heart: Using Books to Communicate with Teens. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.

Trelease, Jim. The Read-aloud Handbook. Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England: Penguin, 1982.

Categories: British novels, Children's Books, Classics, Fantasy, Humorous, Inspiration, Read Aloud, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

The Hobbit: “Have your cake and eat it too”

the hobbit alan lee covertThe Hobbit is a wonderful story which began as a bedtime tale J.R.R. Tolkien dreamed up for his children. Although the book was first published in 1937, over seventy years ago, the current generation is receiving the same delight from the adventures of an unlikely hero, Bilbo Baggins the hobbit, and a great supporting cast of characters. This classic story didn’t need to have new life breathed into it, but movie director, Peter Jackson has done just that with three feature films produced by New Line Cinema.

I earnestly desire to “have my cake and eat it too” when it comes to loving a book and then having a movie made of it, but the movie must do it justice. The fact that this beloved book merited the making of three feature-length films with big, big budgets gave me hope that Tolkien’s story has been faithfully depicted. The second movie released in December 2013 picks up the story at chapter seven with Bilbo and his dwarf companions finding safety with Beorn the skin changer before they enter Mirkwood and its many dangers. This second movie is chockfull of compelling characters: The Elvenking, the wily dragon Smaug, and Bard of Lake-town.

My first impulse is to recommend that you read the book before seeing the movie so that you receive the story as the author intended it to unfold – the plot intact with detailed descriptions and the complete dialogue that define the characters. Also, this particular story begs to be read aloud. Last year, I read it to my teen girls before we went to see the first movie (“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”).

However, there have been plenty of times that I read the book after I saw the movie simply because I didn’t have time or I wasn’t aware that a book existed. In those cases, reading the book after the movie became a worthwhile endeavor because as an interested movie fan, I received the equivalent of additional special features: it’s as if the book contained deleted scenes, and background information that the movie didn’t cover. Peter Jackson like many moviemakers before him has succumbed to the temptation to alter characters, shorten dialogues, and add entirely new scenes, mostly in this case to heighten the danger and suspense.  Due to these changes, I am not fully satisfied with the movies so far.

tolkien with pipe

The Hobbit is the kind of book that contains beautiful words – fluid, funny and moving, that seem to flow directly from the mouth of the author to our ears. I imagine Tolkien sitting by the fireside with his pipe in his hand, weaving the magic with his gravely voice, and I am the child at his feet:

“The nights were the worst. It then became pitch-dark – not what you call pitch-dark, but really pitch: so black that you really could see nothing. Bilbo tried flapping his hand in front of his nose, but he could not see it at all. Well, perhaps it is not true to say that they could see nothing: they could see eyes. They slept all closely huddled together, and took it in turns to watch; and when it was Bilbo’s turn he would see gleams in the darkness round them, and sometimes pairs of yellow or red or green eyes would stare at him from a little distance, and then slowly fade and disappear and slowly shine out again in another place.” (p. 132)

I highly recommend the hardcover edition of The Hobbit with color illustrations by Alan Lee published in 1997 by Houghton Mifflin. The story of the Ring that Bilbo finds continues in The Lord of the Rings as evil forces tighten their stranglehold on Middle-earth. Its inhabitants must rise to even greater heights of bravery in the ultimate tale of good versus evil.

Here is a wonderful blog article on Tolkien’s perspective of his work as revealed through his correspondence: apilgriminnarnia.com.

The Hobbit movie 2“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (released December 2012)

“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (released  December 13, 2013)

“The Hobbit: There and Back Again” (released December 17, 2014)

Categories: British novels, Children's Books, Classics, Fantasy, Humorous, Inspiration, Read Aloud | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Read Aloud – A Christmas Carol

Good literature is a pleasure to read aloud.  The words roll off the tongue and provide a wonderful opportunity for children to hear the English language used artistically.   A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens may be a prime example of a book that is a pleasure to read aloud, and one that appeals to many age levels.  I hold nothing against the many movie versions of this classic tale, but I do want to point out that they all cut out great bites of the original book.  Charles Dickens is a master of the English language and although that can be daunting to the average reader, most of his vocabulary words can be understood in context.  As an example, Dickens describes Scrooge at the outset of the story as: “… a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire…” (p. 10).  I get this, don’t you?  Scrooge is miserly, cold-hearted, and loveless.

One Christmas vacation, I read A Christmas Carol in its entirety (88 pages unabridged) to my husband as he drove the long tedious I-70 highway from Denver, Colorado to his hometown near Kansas City, Kansas.  My fourteen-year old has re-read the book twice during her Christmas break.  She is hoping to read it a third time this year.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, author Gladys Hunt encourages us to keep reading aloud even when our children can read independently: “What most parents do,… is stop sharing books as soon as a child can read alone.  That makes reading a solitary happening, with no chance to talk about a book or discuss what it is saying. ” (Honey for a Teen’s Heart, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 2002).  Steve Demme, an inspirational homeschool speaker and founder of Math-U-See curriculum read at night to his four sons by positioning a chair in the hallway within earshot of his boys’ rooms and reading from there.  I vividly remember when I was called on during a babysitting job to read aloud to five children at bedtime.  They lined up on the couch and listened attentively while I read them the next chapter of the third Narnia book.  They knew where their mother had left off and they didn’t want to miss a night!

We can teach our kids to read with expression by our own example.  We benefit from listening to books also in the development of our imaginations.  Books with “boring bits” describing places are just opportunities to make a “mental movie” of what is happening in the book.  Doing the voices of the characters can be fun, especially when there is interesting dialogue between well-drawn characters.  To mix it up, the family member who is the usual family narrator can take a break while others take a turn reading aloud.  It’s important to switch genres of books to accommodate the tastes and ages of different family members.  Vacations, trips, and sick days are all wonderful times to put in extra reading moments.

Family closeness is precious and we value it even more at Christmastime.  I am beating the same drum as I “requote” Jim Trelease, the author of the Read-Aloud Handbook: “Next to being hugged, reading aloud is probably the longest-lasting experience of childhood.”  Read aloud and build closeness!

Other resources with wonderful read aloud book lists:

Sonlight Curriculum catalog

Hunt, Gladys M.. Honey for a Child’s Heart: The Imaginative Use of Books in Family Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002.

 

Categories: British novels, Children's Books, Classics, Inspiration, Read Aloud, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Hobbit: Fantasy and Real Life

The Hobbit began as a bedtime story for JRR Tolkien’s children.  It has a milder story arc than the Lord of the Rings trilogy and, therefore, is a great read-aloud for families whose younger children can absorb the peril of giant spiders, a wily and powerful dragon, and battle scenes.  Older teens and adults will receive enjoyment and insight from the book as well.  (My husband listened to it on audio just this past summer).

I found that reading The Hobbit aloud to my teen daughters recently offered not only the solidarity of sharing a great story, but also a new understanding of how our inner gifts and life purpose can be drawn out by others. Gandalf does this for Biblo Baggins, who sees himself as a simple hobbit in the Shire, living a safe and complacent life.  All of a sudden, he is thrust into an adventure and needed for skills he didn’t know he possessed.  Throughout the story, Bilbo saves the day.

Wow!  We all need to have others who will see our unique purposes and help us walk them out.  Like the biblical Gideon, sometimes we are “hiding in the wine vat”, just trying to get by and then we hear the voice of the angel: “Greetings, you mighty man (or woman) of God, the Lord is with you!”.

Beware, as Tolkien shows us, the road to fulfilling our destiny is fraught with difficulty.

The first of a two-part film adaptation of the book: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released on December 14, 2012 by New Line Cinema, Warner Bros, and MGM.  I urge you to read the book first so that you receive the story as the author intended it to unfold – unabridged-  the plot intact with all the detailed descriptions and dialogue that define the characters.  Also, give yourself the fun experience of having certain scenes and  themes of the book jump off the pages right at you.  The movie. By contrast, is the product of  director Peter Jackson’s vision and how the story impacted him.

 Fun Fact: There are editions of his work that JRR Tolkien illustrated himself.  The Art of the Hobbit was published recently which contains his artwork. http://www.amazon.com/The-Art-Hobbit-J-R-R-Tolkien/dp/0547928254

Categories: Children's Books, Classics, Fantasy, Inspiration, Read Aloud | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: