I am a bit of a planner, I like to try and get resources organised in advance – books that we are planning on using are often bought a few weeks (sometimes even months) earlier than needed. I just like knowing that I have them, it helps me feel calmer about what we need to cover. But my desire to do some forward planning sometimes backfires.
I have already started thinking about what resources we are going to use for my son’s next next academic year (starting September he would in theory be in Year 6). One of things I know I want to do is go through some of the classic stories but in an abridged version. I have started to see with my oldest, now completing her Year 8 how an understanding of classic stories can help the kids with their later English studies. Yes, often the kids end up reading the proper version later on but just knowing who the characters are, what the main plot is helps them to understand the more complex writing when they tackle it. And I have often seen English activities where extracts of these more classic stories are used, so if the kids already have a basic understanding of the plot, the characters they naturally seem to find the extract and its activities less intimidating.
Since we are huge fans of the Big Cat reading series and we have already used a number of their abridged stories (both my kids read the BIG CAT version of Little Women and Black Beauty before they went on to read the unabridged version of both those stories) I asked if we could get a few more of their classics, specifically – Frankenstein, Wuthering Heights and Great Expectations.
And what happened, the day after they arrived my son (who already has a mountain of library books waiting for him to read) spotted them and immediately liberated Frankenstein from my desk. (I am starting to wonder if there is a special power linked to my desk – it does seem that if books are sitting on my desk and not on their desk, or next to their bed, or on top of their bookshelf, or next to the couch or actually anywhere in the house…….. the books on my desk have some sort of magical attraction and there is a great need to “free” them from the desk – just a theory).
Anyway after stealing or liberating Frank (as he is now called) my son read it cover to cover. He was intrigued by the story and promptly started questioning me about the monster – is he a Zombie or how would we classify him? hmm, I had honestly never thought about this so we had a bit of a strange conversation about how do you classify monsters and what is a monster.
But the point is he has read an abridged version of Frankenstein, he found it interesting and now he knows the basic story line and the characters.
I am all for kids reading the classics (we have a collection on our bookshelf) but I am also all for making the classics appealing and not intimidating. And I have found time and time again that giving the kids a simpler version to read first, opens the door and invites them in.
The books in the images above are these ones – Collins Big Cat – Frankenstein: Band 18/Pearl by Beverley Birch (2016-01-05), Wuthering Heights: Band 17/Diamond (Collins Big Cat), Great Expectations: Band 15/Emerald (Collins Big Cat)
Admin – As I mentioned above I requested these BIG CAT readers from the publisher so we could use them and write about them in a planned starting year 6 post but my son had other ideas.
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