Thursday, November 4, 2010

A Favorite

We couldn't find our bedtime free read last night, Caddie Woodlawn, so I asked my daughter to pick another book. She picked Robin Hood, which we never finished from last year, YR2, which never sat right with her (the not finishing). It was her favorite book last year she said because of the 'words' and how funny it was.

She's talking about the unabridged, Robin Hood by Howard Pyle where sentences like, "'By my faith and my troth,' quoth Robin..." and "Mayhap they do not understand a lad like thee. Thou shalt come with us, and perchance we may find a certain one that can aid thee in thy perplexities..." are how the stories are told.

And it was her favorite.

Thank you Charlotte. I never in a million years would have picked something so completely, obviously and blatantly out of a 2nd grader's league myself. Who would? Even the 4th grader we know who attends the Classical Academy is reading the version by someone other than Pyle, which is completely redone in modern, 'easier' language. I don't blame them! Frankly, had I not known Charlotte, I'm certain I would have picked the Disney version for her, because that's the track we were on only a few short years ago.

Imagine what we might have missed.

Here's a snippet from what we read last night:

Thus, mile after mile, they strode along, now across a brawling stream, now along a sunlit road, now adown some sweet forest path, over which the trees met in green and rustling canopy, and at the end of which a herd of startled deer dashed away, with rattle of leaves and crackle of branches. Onward they walked with song and jest and laughter till high noontide was passed, when at last they came to the banks of a wide, glassy, and lily-padded stream ...

Behind them and before them stretched the river, its placid bosom ruffled here and there by the purple dusk of a small breeze. Sweet green osiers bordered the banks, and far away the red-tiled eaves of some tall tower glimmered in the sun, the weather-vane a spark against the blue sky. And now they travelled more easily, for the road was level and hard. Around them and over the surface of the water skimmed and dipped the swallows, gay dragon-flies darted hither and thither glistening in the sun, and now and then a solitary heron rose splashing and with startled cry from its hiding place among the reeds and sedges that grew in the shallow margin of the stream.

I knew as I read through that beautifully descriptive scene that because we had been in touch with nature so intimately, those scenes were vivid in her mind as they were in mine. To be able to hear something we know and love so dearly described in such a masterful way is incredibly enlightening to the way of words and language. Words; part of the reason why Robin Hood was her favorite.

What a journey Charlotte has us on. Praise God for this richness He has blessed us with! I only wish more people could see and know about this treasure trove, this Aladdin's Cave CM wished to share with everyone.

In case you missed it, here's another post I did a while back on the topic of language with more snippets from Robin Hood that may be of interest: http://livingcminca.blogspot.com/2010/05/for-grasp-of-language.html

"Will you come with me, sweet Reader? I thank you. Give me your hand."


  1. Excellent! I read this to my 3rd grade son last year and he loved it so much that his body pressed against mine as he got lost in it! It is precious to find the language and stories that stir up the deepest imaginations within us. A thing Charlotte "implores us to exert ourselves" in. (words from Beatrix Potter as the little sparrow talks to Peter Rabbit.)

  2. Beautiful and true post. Love it!! 'Tis true for most children. My six year old can listen to Robin Hood by Pyle in small bits without trouble. My 9-year old with LD's struggles so much to understand the words, however, the meaning of the whole sentence is lost. I will try again when he is older. It all depends on the child, I suppose. But your main point; that most children can and do love the literary language of the original texts, is so true.

  3. Love it. Just posted about reading a poem with Isaak this morning, per his request, that I'm sure most people would frown upon reading to a five year old. It was amazing. Then, we stumbled into the library to see what books we could find on the Erie Canal, his new passion. And I was not surprised, sadly, when the librarian kept suggesting that each book on the subject matter was "not for his grade level." You bet I will be posting on this shortly!

  4. That's what I love about Charlotte Mason; the literature and language are so rich! It's like I stumbled on a secret treasure. My sis-in-law is beginning her homeschooling journey, so she took a quick look at Ambleside Online and quickly decided it was way too girly for her boys. I'm guessing she was referring to the poetry and art study. So sad! She is one who has her bookshelves well stocked with twaddle. All well. She'll never know what a treasure she passed up.

  5. Nice, Naomi! You explained so well one of the keys of CM that we have discovered - that children are capable of understanding so much more than we give them credit for. My nine-year-old daughter is reading, liking, and understanding Robinson Crusoe. This blows my mind, even though she is the fifth child to walk down this path. You'd think I'd be over it, but it still manages to amaze me. (And to Heidi - your friend is so missing so much! Maybe your influence will show her otherwise. How could you get more masculine than Howard Pyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Tolkien, etc.???)