Thursday, 17 April 2014
Read Aloud Classics: Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
I think it was in college during my Children’s Lit class when I started to dream about reading aloud to my future children. I imagined being a mom who snuggled up with my little ones before bedtime and read a chapter each night as they dozed off.
We read to Mariah every night before bed from the day we brought her home. She has always been a little bookworm. As the second child, Lana’s nightly storytime was pretty scarce during the first year (ain’t nobody got time for that with two kids). Just this last month or so she’s started to love books and bring them to us to read to her over and over again. I’m so happy she no longer slaps books out of our hands after two pages…I was afraid my read aloud dream wouldn’t come true if she continued on that way.
I’ve been reading chapter books to Mariah since last summer when she was 3. We’ve read Pippi Longstocking, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, the entire Mercy Watson series, some American Girl books, Catwings and a few more. We read them when Lana is sleeping so we’re not interrupted and because bedtime is a pain in my rear right now and it’s not feasible to snuggle and read like the peaceful dream I once pictured.
Part of my read aloud dream was to read classic children’s literature like Alice in Wonderland, The Secret Garden, Swiss Family Robinson, and most of all Peter Pan. These are all books I’ve never actually read myself, and so I imagined us reading them together for the first time.
Then I got impatient.
I also realized I should read it first so I might be a better reader when it comes to read aloud time. I also needed to figure out what age might be most appropriate.
So my first classic children’s book was Peter Pan.
I loved it. I loved how the style of writing was so different from modern children’s books. It was sophisticated and magical and played to a child’s imagination. I’m fond of books that pause and talk directly to the reader in a little aside. It makes you feel like you’ve been given some secret information the characters don’t know about. Peter Pan did this over and over again. I also think I loved it because, as a grown up, I can see and appreciate the way J.M. Barrie describes Peter and the Lost Boys and how their childish minds worked. I also felt the pains of Mr. and Mrs. Darling as they longed to have their children return.
A beautiful book.
I only wish my mind could wipe out Walt Disney’s version of the characters. I wanted so badly to imagine Wendy, Peter, Captain Hook, and Smee for the first time based solely on Barrie’s descriptions. I couldn’t. The Disney version is forever ingrained in my mind. Even though I tried to see them differently, it seems like Walt did a pretty good job with the Darling children and Peter. Other characters like Captain Hook, Smee and the other pirates, as well as the Indians were much more frightening in the book – and I liked it that way. It made overcoming them all that much more triumphant.
So now that I’ve read my first classic, I’m ready to share this wonderful book with my girls…just not yet. Maybe in a year or two….and then over and over, because it seems like a story that gets better each time it’s read.