I have mentioned before that I like to read Charles Dickens at Christmas time. I’ve also mentioned that for the past couple of years, I’ve included the Littles in my Dickens reading. We read A Christmas Carol together 2 years ago, and last year we read Oliver Twist. This year, they are on a slightly darker kick, and they’ve decided that after we finish Something Wicked This Way Comes this week, they want to read Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I’m down with that. Too many people don’t get the opportunity to read that book and take all their impressions of it from the various movies out there (my favorite of which is Mary Reilly). So I’m thrilled the Littles want to read it now.
But I still have to read Dickens for Christmas. One thing I’ve learned in the last two years is that I enjoy reading Dickens slowly. A chapter a day? I think I can hold myself to that. So I started David Copperfield this morning. Slipping into a Dickens novel is like sliding on your favorite, old, worn pair of blue jeans for me. I’ve read A Lot of his books, several of them (think Great Expectations) many, many times. But I’ve never read David Copperfield, believe it or not. So I’m very excited to read this one. Of course, I know the story. But it’s kind of like if you’ve seen those stupid Hunger Games movies… Ugh! the books are infinitely better. I’ll put it this way… I’ve read the Hunger Games series twice. It is literally in my top 3 favorite trilogies of all time. But I stopped watching the movies after the second one. Truth? I only watched the second one to see if they did something to make up for all the enormous gaffs in the first one. They didn’t.
But don’t let me step up on that soapbox. I might never come down.
My point is that reading the book is Always Always Better. You know that, right? So I’m really excited to be reading David Copperfield. So excited that maybe, yeah, it’s going to be Very Difficult to stick to a chapter a day.
The thing about reading a chapter a day, whether it’s aloud in your homeschool or on your own, is that you are better able to savor what’s happening in the book. If you know me, you know I read roughly 3-5 books per week. I have since I was 5. I love books. I love stories. I find the oddest times to read. I listen to books on my Kindle when I’m driving. I’m not kidding; I can’t remember the last time I heard music. I listen to books when I’m cooking. I sneak out of the house when it’s all rowdy and testerone-filled and go sit in the woods and read. I read while I’m in my deer stand, waiting for deer to show up. I literally Cannot Go To Sleep if I don’t at least read a couple pages in bed. If I have a morning when I don’t have to be up moving and Martin gets up before me, I read in secret while everyone thinks I’m asleep. See why I might have trouble sticking to a chapter a day? I may have to read two books at once for the next 2 months. Or maybe I’ll finish this one and read Great Expectations or A Tale of Two Cities again.
Ever read A Tale of Two Cities? Wow. Excellent stuff.
Wait. Where was I? Oh, savoring your book. Dickens’ writing style can be difficult, especially for early readers and people who haven’t spent a lot of time with the classics. We don’t talk that way anymore, and in this world of instant gratification, we definitely don’t write that way anymore. Sentences that have more than 40 words? Not just a couple of them, but most of them! Yeah, we don’t have the attention span for it these days, do we? Remeber, when Dickens was writing, there were no TVs, no internet, no social media with its limited characters. Books were the most highly valued form of entertainment. That’s why the classics are the best kind to read. They don’t just rush through the story with as much action as possible. They help you think a bit more about life, they slow you down. So savoring them makes them all the sweeter.
If you are tackling a classic novel with your littles, be it The Secret Garden or Black Beauty or The Grapes of Wrath, going slowly and discussing Everything is the best way to make sure they’re following. Reading the book twice within a few years (as we have done with Something Wicked) can help your child catch things he may not have fully understood the first time around. If you’re reading by yourself and I’ve convinced you to delve into the world of Dickens, a chapter a day can give you time to think about what you’ve read, mull it over, and come to a deeper understanding. And to email me, maybe, if you’re lost and need an explanation. I’m pretty good at those. When I’m not rambling.
Come on, read David Copperfield with me. It’ll be fun. I Swear.
If I didn’t give you anything useful today, I apologize fully. I realize I rabbit-trailed through this entire post and I’m totally owning it. Okay, so I don’t apologize. Sometimes I just like to let you in on what I’m thinking.
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