What would you suggest?

by | How Would You Answer This? | 3 comments

Hi Laurie,

On your suggestion, I am reading Penrod to my boys, and I think it hilarious. However, my boys (ages 5, 8, 10, 12) don’t understand a lot of it, and I often encounter French words and even English ones that I have never heard before (and do not know how to pronounce!). I have thought of stopping the reading and picking up something a bit easier to understand and read, and then I think maybe they’ll get used to the turns of language and understand it better as I go, but for one son in particular I might as well be reading the entire thing in French–he just doesn’t get the hints of what is happening, and I have to stop at nearly every paragraph to explain in plain English things like “drying up the single source of cash-income” and then explain why it is funny. It is time-consuming, to say the least. Is this struggle to make him understand worth the effort, or would you advise me to read more accessible literature and come back to it in a few years?

Thank you,
Jennifer Thompson

Wondering how our readers would answer this? Laurie


  1. SisterTipster

    Wow~you have really persevered in reading something that is difficult. I don’t know about what anyone else will tell you, but I’d be in favor of finding a version of it that your children (and you) can understand fully…if you had a good grasp of it, then you could translate as you went along, but as it seems from your discussion, there is a real struggle happening here. Your children are awesome to be listening to something hard for them to understand because mine might riot~ok,,,just kidding about the riot part, but they’d show all sorts of behaviors that would NOT make me happy while I plowed through the book. I always have gone for books that my children will understand even using “classics” written for children UNTIL they are old enough to comprehend. HTH & blessings!

  2. Lea Ann Garfias

    I have been through something similar when we read the original Pilgrims Progress when my children were 4, 6, and 8. I needed to explain much of the allegory and vocabulary, but I considered it part of the education. We enjoyed it and still talk about that summer, nearly 4 years later.

    I do vary my read-aloud material so that it is of different levels and textures. This helps us to appreciate different kinds of literature while developing my children’s taste for quality books.

    I strongly recommend you cheerfuly set the tone for the reading time. Rather than dragging them through it, make this an adventure for you all. Taking turns narrating or restating small sections of a chapter can help; we did re-entactions in our front yard for our neighbors, even! By the end of the book, the children will have a better grasp for more mature language and you will be glad you put in the effort.

    ~ Lea Ann

  3. Elisabeth

    I just recently read “Men of Iron” to my children ages 8, 5, 3, and 8 months. Because it takes place in medieval times, there were many words and ideas that were totally foreign to me, not to mention to my children. As we came across something we didn’t understand, we would either figure it out from the context or look it up. It was really fun, for example, to find out what a gauntlet is and to even see a picture of one online. Something I’m trying to learn is to not feel like reading aloud to the children is a race. It’s okay if it takes a long time to get through a book! Having said that, if I started reading a book that neither my children or I were enjoying at all, I might stop reading it and try something else. (But only after giving it a good chance!)


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *