Thursday, May 10, 2007

Thursday Thirteen #32

The only thing besides computer contrariness on my mind this week is Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events which I continue to plow through with enjoyment even in the midst of this personal crisis. Yes, it is children's literature. So, sue me. I'm getting a big kick out of it. I am on book nine. I've heard some complain that it is too repetitious for their taste and they stopped after book three or four.

True, it is repetitious. But repetition is something kids really dig. I started reading them at the behest of my twelve-year-old niece last summer. Well she was twelve then. I finished Book Three shortly before we got our WIFI towards the end of September. My attention got forced in other directions after that. First the joys of WIFI Internet. Then NaNoWriMo. Then news of the looming library closure. By the time the libraries had locked their doors on April 6, my niece had delivered to me the 13th and final book of the series and I had promised her that I would make them my first priority. She wants to discuss them with me but she can't say a word without giving spoilers.

Part of my enjoyment of these stories is imagining reading them aloud. They would be such a delight to read aloud. I think they were designed for it. I can hear the different voices of each distinctive character in my head.

I love to read aloud to kids. I once was in high demand for it. First with my baby sister who was born when I was seven and let me read to her until she was out of grade school, well past the time she had learned to read for herself but she continued to beg me to read to her because she loved the way I did the voices and other dramatic effects. Then there were the hundreds of kids I babysat from age twelve on. Then nieces and nephews. There haven't been any kids of an age to want to be read to in my life for going on a decade now.

One of the things I love about these books is the unabashed use of multi-sylabic words in books meant for kids who are starting to read chapter books. From the time I started reading chapter books myself, I hated the way so many of them limited the vocabulary. Later when I looked into writing for children and discovered that most publishers who published children's books insisted on books being designated for age groups or reading levels and then enforced guidelines for them that limited vocabulary among other things.

Nope, Uh-huh. No way. I am not going to write down to kids. It might be one thing for books with the primary purpose of teaching reading skills. But not for books meant for recreational reading. I remember those reading text books in first through fifth grade and I hated every one of them. They were boring on every level. Now that's repetition I could do without! Like choking on marshmallow cream.

But then, I had been reading certain chapters of the KJV of the Bible from age four. That was my template for both language and story and probably still is. My mother had been reading aloud to me from the time I was an infant until I was at least eleven. She pointed at every word as she said them. That is the way i learned to read. It wasn't until I was in forth grade that they learned that I had never learned to read phonetically and thus was unable to sound out words I had never seen before.

OK so maybe I was precocious. I don't know. But I can't see any benefit in depriving children of exposure to 'difficult' or unfamiliar words. So for any of you TTers with kids in your life from 4 to 14, I give you the thirteen titles of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events. I was scrambling mentally for a TT this week that had nothing to do with the recalcitrant computers and malicious programs when it came to me that the thirteen titles of these books were a perfect fit.

The Thirteen Titles of Lemony Snicket's
A Series of Unfortunate Events

1.Book One: The Bad Beginning

2. Book Two: The Reptile Room

3. Book Three: The Wide Window

4. Book Four: The Miserable Mill

5. Book Five: The Austere Academy

6. Book Six: The Ersatz Elevator

7. Book Seven: The Vile Village

8. Book Eight: The Hostile Hospital

9. Book Nine: The Carnivorous Carnival

10. Book Ten: The Grim Grotto

11. Book Eleven: The Slippery Slope

12. Book Twelve: The Penultimate Peril

13. Book Thirteen: The End

For a bonus, here is the official website which will give a bit of the flavor of the story with excerpts besides which there is an activities page and video trailers for the movie based on the first three books, as well as delightful examples of the illustrations by Brett Helquest: Lemmony Snicket

Links to other Thursday Thirteens!

1. Fence 2. jenny® 3. Mercy's Maid 4. Toni 5. Susan Helene Gottfried

(leave your link in comments, I’ll add you here!)
I know I've been remiss in this the last couple of weeks. I will try my best to get it caught up. Even if I have to use the persnickety PC.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

5 tell me a story:

Fence 5/10/2007 3:35 AM  

I love children's books. Well some of them :) Haven't tried the Lemony Snicket ones yet, but we do have the first three at home. May have to give them a go. But so many books, so little time :)

happy T13

Anonymous,  5/10/2007 6:33 AM  

I've seen the movie by Jim Carey, is that a good version compared to the book?

Mercy's Maid 5/10/2007 8:24 AM  

I love the books and the movie.

Jenny--the movie only covers the first three books in the series. I enjoyed it, but there's a lot more to the story than just what's portrayed in the movie.

Susan Helene Gottfried 5/10/2007 2:53 PM  

I haven't read this series yet; Shame on me, I know. I figure my son will bring them home and we'll read them together.

What you said about vocabulary hit home with me. #2 LOVES chapter books. She's at an age when she SHOULD be into picture books and early readers. But she wants plot! Characters! All the good things.

Needless to say, we read them together. Franny K. Stein. Junie B. Jones. Laura Ingalls Wilder.

And needless to say, my son scored a rare perfect score on the vocabulary component of one of those standardized tests that do things like measure IQ.

I don't talk down to the kids either.

Happy TT!

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