Over the summer I wrote a number of “starting Year 7” posts where I mentioned the different resources that we were planning on using. So I thought I would give an update on one item that is proving to be a MASSIVE hit with both of my kids (my eleven year old and her eight year old brother) – Black Beauty.
We selected Black Beauty as a book that we were going to do a more in-depth “study” of. Our plan was that we would read it together – so me, sitting on the couch with a child on either side and as I read aloud they would follow (and YES I know they do really follow because any little mistake I made is quickly pointed out to me). This way of reading is something we always do with books, we always have one book that the three of us read together. However this time our plan was to read it more slowly and to try and discuss the different events, themes and characters in the story.
Well we’ve started and both kids Love it, really LOVE IT. They already knew the basics of the story (we had read a condensed version before) but the Oxford Children’s classic version that we are now reading has all the detail that they missed in the condensed version and they are loving it. They are really getting to know the characters – both the people and the horses and they are both forming very strong opinions about how some of the animals in the book were treated – the horses that were treated harshly and the foxes that were hunted. They no longer view Ginger as a naughty horse but they both really feel for her and understand why she behaves the way she does. I am finding all these discussions so fascinating. We did an exercise were we looked at the different horses and their character as described in the book and then also wrote down how they had been treated and it was one of those lightbulb moments for the kids.
This is one of the reasons why I picked the Oxford Children’s Classic version of Black Beauty we have read other Oxford Children’s Classics in the past (The Railway Children was hugely popular with both of mine) so I expected that their Black Beauty version would be a good version of the story – and it is. Now I must confess there have been times when I am reading it aloud that I actually stop and have to re-read certain sentences because it just does not seem to sound right to me – but that is because the characters are speaking English like they would have in that time period. And I Like this. I like the fact that it has NOT been modernised, the kids are hearing the older English, they are hearing the phrases and words that would have been used in those times and for me that is an important detail.
I also must admit that although I was fairly confident my eleven year old would enjoy the book I was not sure about my eight year old. I thought he might find it a bit slow going but that is NOT the case. In fact he often sits and re-read sections to himself. And he even asks if we can read just one more chapter tonight. He is just soaking up the story and learning so much from it.
We have not finished reading it yet but it has already been such a hit with both my kids that I really just wanted to write a quick update.
If you are looking for a family-read-together book then all of us HIGHLY recommend giving Black Beauty a go (this version – Oxford Children’s Classics: Black Beauty). It truly is a gem of a story and one of those classics that I wish everyone got a chance to read.
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All wonderful stories!