Saturday, August 12, 2006

Winnie the Pooh

I was reading the answers to the Book Meme and came across this by MotherReader:

When I was in fifth grade, an adult saw me reading Winnie-the-Pooh and commented what a sophisticated book it was. It left me with a life-long appreciation of the humor in Winnie-the-Pooh that I think many kids miss because they think the book is too young for them. It also gave me a firm conviction not to rush kids into older books, so when they do read a book they will appreciate it.

Let me say how much I love that adult who not only did not dismiss MotherReader's book choice, but also said something encouraging and positive about it. I hope I can be that adult in children's lives.

But my second point:

What books do kids read "too soon"? What books should be read (or reread) when a child is older? Sometimes it's a situation like Disney, where the book has been turned into a cartoon that is viewed as "babyish;" sometimes it's a book like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, where parents think that because the movie is OK for their child, so too are the books.

Whatever the reasons, what books can we "take back" for older readers?

1. Winnie the Pooh
2. The House at Pooh Corner
3. Grimm's Fairy Tales
4. The Lord of the Rings
5. Harry Potter (most notably, the more recent/ older books)
6. The Wizard of Oz books
7. Anne of Avonlea and the other Anne sequels

and the reason I'm not doing more is I have to pack.


web said...

I read a lot of YA's because my older sister read them. Don't think they did me any particular harm, though they were all pretty bad. I don't think they have to be reserved for anyone. ;-)

Liz B said...

Oh, I'm not saying that they should be reserved or shouldn't be read; but why not reread? What books do kids think are "too young", for whatever reason?

After a viewing of Veronica Mars, a bunch of people at the Televisionwithoutpity boards argued that a character shown reading Forever was immature, since Forever is a book for 5th & 6th graders. I wouldn't say those kids shouldn't read it; but I do think that high school students would be wrong to not read (or reread) the book.

Nancy said...

I was lucky enough to choose Children's Lit as my focus for my college thesis, so I found a lot of great books after I was "grown up." Here are just a few:

Dear Enemy
Girl of the Limberlost
Emily of New Moon

One of the fascinating things about children's books is how adult themes are woven through them, and sometimes you have to go back as an older reader to really appreciate this.

I'll also say that when I read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, I kept thinking there was no way I would let a child under 12 read that book -- too scary. But then I remember some fairly scary books I read when I was 10, and I'm not sure if I might be underestimating how kids handle fear.

Anonymous said...

Forever for fifth and sixth graders? If I had a kid in fifth grade who was reading Forever, I'd fully expect her to be doing so under the covers, with a flashlight, without telling me. (Which isn't to say that this is a practice I disapprove of, btw - I'm all for it. :))

Reader response theory, which you know is one of my "things", says that each different reader brings something different to, and takes something different from, a each different time that they encounter it. So, the teens at my then-library who were reading Half Blood Prince last summer were all talking about who R.A.B. was, and what items were likely to be horcruxes, while I heard one ten-year old tell another about what had been, for her, the most controversial part of the book: "Somebody KISSES somebody!" Everyone was reading the same words, but different aspects of those words were jumping out for different people of different ages.

In another example, when I read LotR as a teen, I wondered how the not-yet-of-age Merry and Pippin had been able to get away from their parents - I was quite sure that my folks would have totally flipped if I'd've disappeared with an older cousin (even a cousin of particularly good repute) for upwards of a year. Whereas on recent re-reads, it's been other parts of the story that've caught my imagination and my eye. Did I even notice most of these other things as a teen? No way! But would I have read the young hobbits the same way if I'd first encountered them as an adult? Most likely not.

So, I'm all for re-reading. To Liz's list, I'd add some picturebooks too - anything by Maurice Sendak or Dr. Seuss, for example. And Stinky Cheese Man and that sort of thing, too.

Liz B said...

I'm not here, I'm packing...

I do think one of the things I'm concerned about is people dismissing books for the sole reason of "already read that" or "oh, that's much too young for me."

Being I'm on the Series of Unfortunate Events kicks, that's one where I think everyone who reads it as kid should reread once grown.

Becky said...

Alice in Wonderland. I read it as a young child, then read again for 10th grade and it was an *entirely* different book lol.

MotherReader said...

Thanks for the support of Winnie. I'm sure he's over at Fuse#8 library right now, with his ears burning.

The Princess Diaries are definitely a series that is nicely placed in YA, but moms pick them up for their fourth graders - based on the movies.

Paddington Bear is one that is a hard read that kids feel too old for before they are even old enough to be able to read it.

And Harry Potter is one I've always thought has been pushed too young - mostly by parents who want to be so proud that their kid was listening to it at four years old. But, at least I suspect the kids will go back and reread Harry.

Greg Pincus said...

I'd say that Shel Silverstein's poetry is often read too young than not returned to when the more sophisticated wordplay and ideas can be absorbed better. Harry Potter and Alice in Wonderland would get my votes, too.

There is, however, also the thought that you can get to some books "too late" as well (though it's probably more about timing than early/lateness). I never liked the Lord of the Rings books at all, but I didn't read them til I was lateteen. At that time, for me, they were a whiff... but even then I remember thinking I'd've probably liked them more a few years earlier before I'd read certain other books.

Perhaps it all comes from loving honey?

Emily said...

When my 11th grade French class read "The Little Prince," a number of us (myself included) came out of the closet to say that we had been mystified by it upon reading it as children but liked it much better now; it's really not a children's book.