Classic literature has a totally unfair reputation among young readers as inaccessible and reserved for the ‘smart’ kids. True, classic books do not read like modern writing and the vocabulary and usage in classic literature can be daunting. Although these concerns are more easily overcome than one might think, they lead both young and seasoned readers toward books that are shorter and look easier. Inevitably, a student will be required to read a classic piece of literature. When this happens, and it will happen, the ideal scenario will be that a young reader has a familiarity with classic literature and the skills to read and enjoy the beauty of classic literature.
The Classic Starts series from Sterling Publishing aims to familiarize young readers with by re-writing children’s literature for younger children, making the books shorter and easier to read.
The books provide a gentle introduction to the classics by giving children the plot and characters without bogging them down with a lot verbiage and complex side stories. It is hoped that the classic story will feel more like a review to children after reading the abridged version, and they’ll be able to enjoy the nuances of the original better.
The series includes Mark Twain’s ‘The Prince and the Pauper,’ Jack London’s ‘White Fang,’ Lucy Maud Montgomery’s ‘Anne of Green Gables,’ and 48 others. Each book ends with questions for discussion that a grown-up can use to get the reader to think about the book. This can foster discussions about the relevance of the story to the child and modern life.
You can also just read it to them for bedtime. These abridged editions can be a good introduction to you, too, if your school was always a little light on the classics. The re-telling of Rudyard Kipling’s ‘Animal Stories’ holds all the original word-play and can be a charming way to wind down in the evening.
Dr. Arthur Pober, Ed D, writes the afterwards in the books. He helped create the series. He served as principal at a laboratory school called Hunter College Elementary School and has over 20 years of experience in early childhood education. The actual writers are Kathleen Olmstead and Diane Namm. The retold versions stay true to the original tone and plot of the stories, and they can be read by your average 3rd-grader on their own. This can be your child’s portal into the wonderful world of classic literature.