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Does anyone have any idea (or vision) how to encourage kids and teenagers to read the classics? Seems that almost all high-school kids don't have the patience for 'heavy classics', such as Crime and Punishment or even Lord of the Rings (who needs to read when you can watch the trilogy).

I am just wondering if there can be some creative idea that would encourage them to download those classics and have some knowledge in literature?
 

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Honestly, I'd let them come to the classics on their own. I think it wold be better to tempt them with something more contemporary that they could relate to.

Mike
 

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When I was in HS, the ONLY book over 4 years that got the "I don't really like to read" students to crack the book was Lord of the Flies. I thought it was depressing, but at least it was a reasonably fast moving story that could be followed without too much trouble.

I personally think The Princess Bride would be a good choice -- it uses a lot of standard tropes of classic literature and is a fun story -- not to mention the movie -- that kids would probably actually read. It could be used as a jumping off point for talking about the "boring" stuff. :D

My husband, also not much of a reader, also found much that they assigned in school dull beyond measure, but he enjoyed The Old Man and the Sea.
 

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jmiked said:
Honestly, I'd let them come to the classics on their own. I think it wold be better to tempt them with something more contemporary that they could relate to.

Mike
I agree.

Does it really matter what they are reading as long as they are reading? So many kids and teens don't read at all unless it's for school and frankly, most kids will get exposure to at least some of the classic as required reading for school anyway. If it doesn't interest them outside of school, you can't force it on them.

Come to think of it, who cares what anyone else reads regardless of their age? There's plenty of adults who don't read the classics either - including myself. Does that somehow make me inferior?

Reading for enjoyment should be just that - enjoyable. And the only way it's enjoyable is if you read what you want to read, not what someone else thinks you "should" read.
 

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history_lover said:
I agree.

Does it really matter what they are reading as long as they are reading? So many kids and teens don't read at all unless it's for school and frankly, most kids will get exposure to at least some of the classic as required reading for school anyway. If it doesn't interest them outside of school, you can't force it on them.

Come to think of it, who cares what anyone else reads regardless of their age? There's plenty of adults who don't read the classics either - including myself. Does that somehow make me inferior?

Reading for enjoyment should be just that - enjoyable. And the only way it's enjoyable is if you read what you want to read, not what someone else thinks you "should" read.
I agree! Especially that last sentence which really hits the nail on the head for me. I had to read so many books (classics) in junior high and high school that I just didn't enjoy that it really turned me off of reading for years. Reading wasn't something I did for pleasure, it was homework and a chore for me. It wasn't until I was in my late 20's that I started reading for enjoyment again and realized how much I enjoyed reading books in genres that I liked.
 

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I agree with what a bunch of people have said - reading needs to start somewhere. Milk before meat. They'll eventually be ready for the classics, but if those books are forced on them, the students won't appreciate them, and in many cases, they'll end up disliking reading.

That said, there's a huge wave of authors right now who are re-writing the classics into modern, more contemporary stories. Jenni James, as one example, is taking on the Jane Austen novels and giving them a teen twist. A lot of her readers are then going on to the original stories and are really enjoying them.

So there's always that method. :)
 

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I bought my 8 yr old GD a PW for Christmas and put books on it like Black Beauty, The Secret Garden, Little Women, Wind in the Willow (which she requested). She'll read them just because they're there and she loves to read. Right now, she's racing through the Judy Moody books.

I suspect that we will be reading some of the classics together as she gets older.
 

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Andrea Pearson said:
I agree with what a bunch of people have said - reading needs to start somewhere. Milk before meat. They'll eventually be ready for the classics, but if those books are forced on them, the students won't appreciate them, and in many cases, they'll end up disliking reading.

That said, there's a huge wave of authors right now who are re-writing the classics into modern, more contemporary stories. Jenni James, as one example, is taking on the Jane Austen novels and giving them a teen twist. A lot of her readers are then going on to the original stories and are really enjoying them.

So there's always that method. :)
I think one reason so many people don't read is that the things they were forced to read in school were so difficult and boring. If more children were encouraged to read things they find entertaining, they will be more likely to read for pleasure later in life.
 

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Geoffrey said:
I think one reason so many people don't read is that the things they were forced to read in school were so difficult and boring. If more children were encouraged to read things they find entertaining, they will be more likely to read for pleasure later in life.
True - but personally, I think that comes down to the parents. I grew up with my mom always reading books to me, even when I was old enough to read them myself, she would read to me for some quality time together. She would also take me to the library and book stores regularly. Basically, she showed me from the start that even if I don't like what I have to read for school, I can read other things on my own that I will enjoy more. I don't think it takes much to show that to kids, as long as you do it early enough, but when you have parents who don't read for pleasure themselves, they aren't exactly going to make that effort with their kids.
 

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history_lover said:
but when you have parents who don't read for pleasure themselves, they aren't exactly going to make that effort with their kids.
I completely agree with this. My parents are both avid readers, as are my hubby's parents. We both LOVE to read and our siblings do too. It's a family culture thing. My hubby and I were raised on the classics - my mom read to us all the time growing up. But I was homeschooled, and didn't have to read the classics for a school assignment. Rather, we read them as a family and it became a tradition I want to continue with my kids.
 

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SIU said:
Does anyone have any idea (or vision) how to encourage kids and teenagers to read the classics? Seems that almost all high-school kids don't have the patience for 'heavy classics', such as Crime and Punishment or even Lord of the Rings (who needs to read when you can watch the trilogy).

I am just wondering if there can be some creative idea that would encourage them to download those classics and have some knowledge in literature?
If you have access to the kids standardized test scores, I'd check out the lexile levels that the kids are capable of reading at and the lexile levels of the books you'd like them to read and make sure that you are suggesting classic books for leisure reading that are at least a little below what their instructional reading level is. If they have to really work at getting through the books, they aren't going to enjoy them, and reading is going to feel like a chore. The jump in reading level from The Hunger Games or Twilight or even the Harry Potter books to The Lord of the
Rings
is huge.

I'd also be sure to present these books as "books I really loved when I was your age" rather than "things I think you should read to be well-educated." If you can't do that with a clear conscience because you didn't come to appreciate the books you want them to read until later in life, let them wait to discover them, too.
 

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If you want to encourage kids to read the classics, encourage them to read - read anything. You sometimes hear people who think it is terrible that young people are reading books like The Hunger Games. I think it's fantastic. A lot of them will discover the classics on their own, if you don't turn reading into a chore.
 

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Presenting them as "books I loved when I was your age," as noted above, is important. (It may not work -- the kid in question may think anything the parent/teacher loved is automatically a snooze from the late Cretaceous.) Anything presented with an "eat your peas" tone will probably be rejected outright. If you're still enthusiastic about the story yourself, then it's worth pitching it to younger readers if their reading skills are up to it. (Moby Dick might not be a good match for a 5th grader.)

But since this is Kindle Boards...

When I was in 5th and 6th grade (late Cretaceous), you could walk into almost any place that sold comics and find some selections from Classics Illustrated. That line of comics did adaptations of everything from Dickens and Bronte and Shakespeare to Dumas and Melville and Verne. My first acquaintance with some of these stories was through Classics Illustrated, and I'll bet I'm not alone among KBers in saying that. A number of those comics are showing up in the Kindle store now -- a bit pricey and probably available only for the Fire, iPad, or cloud reader on desktop machines, but if you can't get a kid to pick up the full book, a CI comic version will usually give a good quick overview of the story and often recommend a reading of the original. If nothing else, the kids will remember some of those titles when they start picking up the original books on their own.
 
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