Prose Lullubies are not for the Fainthearted

My sister is six-and-a-couple-of-months-old, and we’re on page 194 of The Hobbit.

I bought a copy filled with some of the many drawings and paintings of the talented Alan Lee, with the intention of trapping her one day, while she was strapped in the car and unable to escape, and start reading. The first couple of times I tried to force books upon her as story-time reading were unsuccessful, she claimed that Gerald Durell was “boring”, despite her immense enthusiasm for animals, and declared Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone just as bad. However, she has maintained interest in The Hobbit for approximately a month now, and we both enjoy the experience, though sometimes she asks what words mean. And fair enough, Tolkien uses some rather advanced vocabulary for a year 1 student!

I love the fiction genre, and when I was younger, my parents read me a lot of books – they steadfastly continued throughout my entire primary schooling – till I was 11! – and almost the complete Anne of Green Gables series was narrated to me, night after night, in Hebrew. I derived great enjoyment from the experience, and have very fond memories of my mother, muddling words and nodding off as her voice grew hoarse, with me poking her awake gently and demanding that she finish the chapter, though I, at the time, had formed and enforced some very stubborn, weird views on what I was allowed to read in English. I love passing on my enjoyment and seeing my sister drop off to sleep.

But I have to wonder, should I have started with something more benign? The Colour of Magic, perhaps, or The Spiderwick Chronicles, or even renewed the Anne of Green Gables tradition? Because The Hobbit has some pretty gory images, some rather gruesome, violent scenes, and a lot of talk of beheadings and enemies and evil. And I don’t want my sister gaining a binary perspective of the world, seeing everything as direct oppositions. On the other hand, she’s interested, and I want to foster that – because isn’t her interest an indication that she is ready to be read these stories? Although, possibly I should be waiting until she can read them herself…

 

What do you think?

-Let’s call me Lily

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