Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Books on Tape

So, I've been getting Derek books on tape to listen to in the car while he drives to and from work. He always has aspirations for reading more, but never has the time to accomplish the goal, so I thought this would be ideal. I also like being the one to pick the books on tape because I usually choose books I've read and then we can talk about the books later.
The first book I grabbed him was called Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi. I haven't read this book in several years, but I did remember that I liked it and the main character was a female dwarf. He enjoyed the book and thought it was well written.
The second book I grabbed him was a book I recently finished called A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (the author of The Kite Runner). It was a very sad book, but so powerfully written. He told me he enjoyed it as well, but that he definitely needed a cheerful novel next.
Well, I didn't get him a cheerful novel, but I did grab him a classic that I love...East of Eden by John Steinbeck. If you haven't read it, you should. I read it after my friend Tina and I absolutely loved the story.
So, I have been doing the same thing with Ryanna. You'll notice my "shelf" of books in the sidebar of my blog and you'll see that it lists The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary. I thought that would be a book a bit above her reading level and would be good for her to listen to as we drove. Truthfully, I didn't know if she'd want to listen, but to my delight, she demands to listen to her books on tape every time we get in the car now.
So, after the first, The Mouse and the Motorcycle, I went to Ralph S. Mouse, also by Cleary. She seemed to enjoy both books and did pick up a bit of the story. I didn't know how well she'd follow because she's often busy looking at the scenery as we drive or daydreaming--something she does a lot. However, I figured even if she gets only tidbits of the story, hopefully, it's enjoyable and she's developing a love of literature.
Our latest book is Matilda by Roald Dahl. I was excited to get it because I didn't grow up reading Dahl. I read Cleary and Judy Blume mostly. My husband had been really excited to have her hear it. I have to say that I've been really shocked at the violence and the language. It's a children's book, but Ms. Trunchbulll (spelling is a guess since it's a book on tape), is quite a villian. It talks about the Chokey where she imprisons children for whole days or hours at a time...and the way she talks!!!!
She calls the children "stupid, little blisters, gobs of glue" (those are the phrases that are fresh in my mind from today's drive anyway). The way the parents treat Matilda and speak to her is appauling. I don't know, I am pretty disturbed by the whole thing really. It's making me worry that Ryanna's going to be afraid of school and start using some of the language that is repeatedly spewing forth from the Headmistress and the parents.
I'm still a little up in the air about how I feel about the whole thing. Not to say that the books I'm intrigued by don't have images that are violent or contain bad language in some spots, but I'm not choosing to read those books to my four year old.
Any of you who grew up reading Roald Dahl, what do you think????


Lacey said...

Matilda the movie was on a couple of weeks ago for Halloween...Christopher thought it would be so cute for Elodie to see but I totally agreed with you...I felt bad for little Matilda and the way her family treated her....and the school was awful! We decided to turn it off but after Elodie went to bed, we finished the movie. The ending was happy but it's unfortunate you have to wait till the end for it to get all happy on you!

Crazymamaof6 said...

i read Dahl and loved it but never read Matilda. i was a James and the giant peach , and BFG, willy wonka an the great class elevator. James and the giant peach was tad violent with the mean aunts. but he overcomes and finds his happiness. Peyton has read then and loves them but he is 9 so maybe an older kid thing? i read them and loved them as a kid and i wouldn't consider myself scarred.

JenW said...

i read some of those books and was frankly disturbed as well, when i was younger. James and the Giant Peach especially was a little bit, if i read them now i'd probably be fine. i read mostly Cleary and Babysitter's Club when i was younger...not much Dahl until i was older, old enough to not be too scared. maybe wait on it? i love the mouse and the motorcycle and all those books!

kjirsti said...

I grew up reading R. Dahl. And I adored him, I read his book mainly in later elementary school. I have read most of his books. I am very sensitive to visual violence, but I don't remember feeling Dahl was particularly violent. The way that he sculpts all of his characters is such that they are extremes in society. Mathilda herself is fantastical, so it wasn't hard to think, something like a chockey was also make believe. However, again I was older and perhaps better at deciphering reality from make believe.

Ruth Petersen said...

I' m glad to get some book on tape ideas. I'm using tapes not only in the car but also at home when I'm doing no brain tasks. I thought Matilda was over the top. It would be fine for an older child. When we were in Clarkston Wa. We were taking turns reading James and the Giant Peach out loud. We were so enthralled with it we read late into the night and almost finished it in one night.

Kylie said...

I read Dahl when I was younger and don't remember being affected by it. I wasn't four, I was more like 10 probably. I thought that Miss Honey was a nice dramatic foil to Trunchbull, and was amazed at how a little genius could come from such a rotten home. I also remember trying to move objects with my eyes, hehe. I'm sure Derek and Ryanna will enjoy reading it together when shes a bit older and understands the difference between reality and exaggeration. PS Bravo to you for making reading with your kids a priority.

Tina said...

Yes I love everything I have read by Dahl. I agree with some other comments- I read them a lot as a child, but more of an older child- age 10 or so and don't remember being all that disturbed by the language or content. Jon just finished reading "James and the Giant Peach" to Seth. He loved it. They are now reading The BFG.

Thanks for the shout out about East of Eden, my favorite novel. I should read more Steinbeck.

And thanks to Jen for the Babysitters Club plug. I loved, loved, loved these books. I only read something else when I couldn't find any new BSC at the library and I had read the ones I owned a half dozen times already.

mmhamblin said...

I loved Matilda and read it over and over, but I was around 9 or 10. I think I will wait with Jacob before we start that book. There's plenty of time! I can't wait until we can start Harry Potter with him!

peachytiffers said...

I didn't get to read everyone else's comments, but I will share my opinion. Roald Dahl has always been one of my all-time favorite authors from the time I was in elementary school. His books are full of nonsense and unrealistic ideas, but I love them. I do have to say, from a teacher standpoint though, that choosing material that is appropriate for the age of the child is a huge part of it. I have seen many examples of advanced youth readers that run into a problem of finding new material to read that is appropriate for their age level. I really started to get into RD when I was in fifth grade and I don't really think it should be introduced any earlier than that. It is all silliness, but it can have topics that might be too much for children. I recently learned that one of his books called Going Solo has a part in it that mentions bare breasted women, but suprisingly it was in the elementary school library and counted as an AR book, which means that the children could read it and count it for points toward their reading grade. I think that RD is great and I love all of his books, but I would hold off on them until at least fourth grade. But that's just my opinion!

Cuddlydoll said...

Roal Dahl is not for the faint of heart. When I was young my mom always got books on tape when we went on vacation. One year she got Witches by Roald Dahl. His books are a little bizarre and pretty dark. Even Charlie and the Chocolate factory is bizarre. I'd save thos books until she's a little older.