So I think I may have mentioned, I went in to my daughter’s preschool class to be a “celebrity reader” a few months ago. Not wanting to push my luck with the Shakespeare (and not having a version handy that I would consider appropriate), I went with the modern Shakespeare – Dr. Seuss . I was a big hit.
Well my oldest daughter is in first grade, and also has a similar “parents feel welcome to come in and read” program which I have studiously avoided. First graders, for those who aren’t parents, are far wilder than preschoolers. Much less likely to pay attention, much more likely to say “You stink” or “We hate this book” if they had this book, or, you know, if I stink.
But school’s coming to a close and I may not get the chance to do this again, so I break down and tell the teacher I’ll come in this week.
BUT! I have a plan. I head to Amazon and grab The Tempest : For Kids (Shakespeare Can Be Fun series), even getting the extra shipping to make sure it shows up on time. This series has a number of things going for it:
* written by an elementary school teacher, for her students
* written in rhyming verse, ala Dr. Seuss
* illustrated by her students, ages 7-8 (which I guess makes them more like second or third graders)
Now, I’m getting into it. I’ve got visions of bringing my now several versions of this story and letting them be passed around the class while I read from this one. Heck, maybe I’ll even bring my Shakespeare bust and sit him down on the desk with me.
But this is where my schemes gangs aft agley. Book arrives, and it is indeed beautiful. Brightly illustrated on every page, not just with images but with paraphasings of key passages.
But *dense* with text. This book is over 60 pages long, with 10+ full sentences on each page. For 6yr olds that is a tremendous amount of information, and there’s no way they can meaningfully follow the story if I attempt to read it in one sitting. I even tried to time it, and reading quickly – without interruption for questions – it would take me near to half an hour to get through the thing. Heck, I was on 9 minutes before we even saw Caliban!
In short, there’s no way I’m reading this to my daughter’s class. Even though it’s written by a school teacher I’d now call this the kind of thing she could read to them over multiple sittings, not as one drive-by by a random parent who they won’t see again,
Although my daughter and I found a replacement book today (Harold and the Purple Crayon), I haven’t given up hope. I will either dig up my Usborne version and see if I think it’s good enough to keep their attention (from what I recall there aren’t enough pictures, and still too many words)., or if I have the time and energy if I can actually paraphrase this one down to just a sentence or two per page, so I can keep the pictures and still get the story across in about 10 minutes.