03 September 2012

A gaping hole in my kids' education

When our boys were very small a lovely friend at church, whose children were well on their way to grown up, commented that our children would be very fortunate. They would grow up hearing the best stories ever - the stories from the Bible - and wouldn't have to worry about all those fairy tales.  With first baby in arms, I was fresh out of retirement from primary school teaching where my forte had been reading, writing and children's literature.  I smiled at my friend's comment and thought inwardly, "Yes, my children will hear lots and lots of Bible stories, that is for sure, but we will be reading widely from all sorts of good children's books and stories as well."

As it turns out, we didn't read many fairy stories.  We've read lots and lots and lots of books of all descriptions but the fairy stories seem to have passed us by.  Maybe because that comment has always stayed with me.  Maybe because most fairy story books are covered in princesses and fairies and pink...and our boys don't seem to do pink.  And so while we have been reading widely, the fairy tale classics haven't ever risen to the surface.

I realised this gap in their education when our nine year old came home from school a couple of weeks ago saying that he needed to write a puppet play based on a fairy tale and by the way, what happened in "Jack and the Beanstalk?"  So we sat down together and I started to tell the story, only to find that I was bit hazy on some of the finer details.  Did Jack just take a golden egg and then the goose or was there something else in between?  And what happened to that giant when Jack cut down the beanstalk at the end - did he scamper back up the top half of the beanstalk to his castle in the sky never to be seen again or did he come plummeting down into Jack's garden and meet a horrible end?  If the horrible end...what did they do with the body?

So off we went to the library looking for Jack and the Beanstalk and came home with 100 Classic Stories.  What a great book.  A blue border and not too many cute pink things on the cover - a good start. And inside it has all the stories I remember hearing as a child, stories I read at school, stories I read to children at school and one or two that I don't know.  We have been having all sorts of fun reading a couple of these every night before bed time and getting ourselves all caught up on the classics.

Turns out, by the way, the giant did come down with the beanstalk but they didn't mention how Jack and his mother dealt with a dead giant at the base of the beanstalk just outside their kitchen window.  Awkward.


Deb said...

"Awkward". Love it.

Meredith said...

Someone suggested that the giant fell so hard to the ground that the earth swallowed him up. But that doesn't sound all that plausible.