JiEun Lee
Reading the Classics in the children's version

Hello everyone,


Now it is summer and I can see bunch of lists of book for summer reading.


The books listed always on my list are classics (not limited but like Hemingway's, The Great Gatsby, Tolstoy and etc..)


I was ambitious (or stupid) that I could read in original version, which I found sometimes I ended up researching all words I don't know or disect each sentence grammartically to make sense.


While I really want to read those classics so that I could participate in literacy conversation, whenever I picked up the original version I get distracted and put down the book.


One day, I came across a thought if it would be easier to learn basic plot of the each classics in children's version.


Then my silly entitlement set in (Not sure if 'entitlement is the appropriate word to use)

' It says on the cover, for age 7-12 (or whatever under 13).. It's not for me...'


What is your opinion/suggestion?


Should I start with children edition or does anyone have other brilliant suggestion how to enjoy (or understand at bare minimum) original?


Thank you in advance.

Jul 1, 2014 12:29 PM
Comments · 4

Reading boiled down books for children isn't going to allow you to have good conversations about literature with other adults. 


The truth is that you are better off starting with books that are originally in English (not Tolstoy) and that are more modern and easier and then work your way backwards and to more difficult books and books from earlier times. 


Animal Farm by George Orwell is an allegory that has fairly simple language and plot but with big implications. That one might be good to start with. It's not really "modern" but was at least written in the 20th century. 


Buy the book in your target language AND in your native language. Read through a paragraph in English underlining words you don't know. Look up the words. Read the paragraph again. Then read the paragraph in your native language to make sure you understood that paragraph properly. 


It's a slow process, but reading watered down synopses and children's versions ruins the book. Better to go really slow and read the great language and ideas in their original adult forms very slowly. That's my opinion. If something isn't clear you can come here and ask questions and get lots of help. 


That's my two cents. 

July 1, 2014

Marcus, I think if it is someone's goal and DESIRE to read the classics of literature as it is taught in schools in order to have discussions about literature, then reading Harry Potter is cruel and unusual punishment! I don't want to read Harry Potter in any language. 


Don Quixote is a terrible example as that would be like reading Shakespeare right out of the gate. The language of Don Quixote is ancient. No one should start with Old English nor Old Spanish.


The trick is to read what you WANT to read, what you WOULD read in your native language. If JiEunn is for instance a literature professor or student of literature in college then she should read good literature in English. She should just pick the very easiest ones to start with first. 


I'm reading The Alchemist here with a bunch of folks in Spanish and English because I'm curious about the book, have heard about it and want to know what's inside so it's a book I would read in English and it also happens to be easy Spanish and Easy English and it's an absolute blast to be reading it together with others. 


Read what interests you! If literature interests you, read literature and if Harry Potter interests you, read Harry Potter. 


It's better to read something you like very slowly constantly going and looking at the translation into your native language than to force yourself to read something you don't want to read. If you have others JiEunn with whom you will enjoy discussing The Great Gatsby and/or Animal Farm then I say go for it. Half the joy will come from your discussions. 


If you want more suggestions regarding easier classics to read, please just ask. 



July 2, 2014

Thank you Dorothy and Marcus10 for your inputs.


I might have confused you guys and what I meant by 'original' is what is written in the author's own words (not children version).

July 2, 2014

I disagree.  Books like Animal Farm and The Great Gatsby are books they make native English speakers read in high school.  In my case, the only people that read The Great Gatsby were people in Advanced Placement classes.


Classic literature written in the English language shouldn't be read by someone just learning the language.  That would be like me reading Don Quixote because I'm learning Spanish.  I most likely wouldn't finish it nor would I understand it because I'm not at the level required to read it proactively.


Books like Harry Potter, however, that are meant for kids, I would encourage people to read.  I'm reading Harry Potter in Spanish and even though it's a sturggle at times, It's alot easier to comprehend and learn from than reading more adanced books in Spanish.


My recommendation for someone looking for easy books to read in English would be

1. Harry Potter series

2. Goosebumps series


These are the types of books I read when I was younger.

July 2, 2014