When I started thinking about this homeschooling journey, I don’t think I could’ve envisioned studying ancient Greece with my five and six year olds, much less reading an adaptation of The Iliad to them and them enjoying it. But that is what we have done. Lulu spends part of her days lately engrossed in D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths. We have read some of them aloud, but she has taken the book for her own private enjoyment. It is not unusual to find her with her nose stuck in it at the lunch table or in the back of the minivan as we’re out running errands. My own education in the classics lacked much substance; I don’t remember encountering Homer until a world literature class in college, and I was an honor student who took two years of AP English and scored high enough on the examinations to test out of freshman English in college. I can’t say that I enjoyed any of the ancients then, which is one more reason for me to give my children the education I didn’t have. I want them to be familiar with the stuff on which our civilization is based, and I don’t want them to be put off by it when they encounter it again (and again and again) as they get older. Enter Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliffe. It was Janet’s post entitled “First Encounters with Homer” that gave me the courage and conviction to introduce my girls to the complex and violent tale, and they reacted just like Janet’s girls did: they loved the story and would beg for just one more chapter. They didn’t seem too put off by the violence, which I must attribute to the fact that their imaginations are innocent and thus less likely to conjure up grotesque scenes in response to the narrative. (For a good discussion of this, read Janet’s post that is linked above, including the comments.) Sutcliffe‘s narrative is gorgeous and reminds me of the translation I read in my hefty Norton anthology way back when. I had a hard time keeping the huge host of characters straight, and I even went looking for something to use as a memory aide for me and the girls.
I ended up making these cards from images I found on this blog via Jimmie’s Squidoo lens entitled “Greek Classics for Children.” I made a set for each of my girls and even color-coded them: blue for the Trojans, red for the Greeks, and gold for the gods. However, mostly we just enjoyed the story. I have Lupton and Morden’s The Adventures of Odysseus to explore with them next, but I think we’re going to finish Rascal first; it is turning out to be quite a lengthy and dense story to read aloud.
How do you feel about adaptations of classic stories? I admit to being a purist, but somehow reading these works that we read in translation anyway doesn’t feel as much like “cheating,” especially when the writers doing the adapting are so good. Don’t ask me to read an adaptation or abridgement of something like Anne of Green Gables, though. 🙂
What’s in your read-aloud basket this week? Please share a link to your post in the comments. I have a busy evening ahead of me tonight, so if I don’t manage to post a list of links tomorrow, I will make an extra long list next week! In the meantime, click through from the comments! 🙂
Happy Read Aloud Thursday!