To read the classics (great books) is to enter into what has been called "The Great Conversation." We listen to what the authors have to say, determine what it is they are saying, reflect upon it and decide what we think about it. By confronting the work in this way students learn to think critically and begin to form a foundation for their own opinions and ideas. To come in contact with great ideas is the beginning of learning to have great thoughts.
Children should be read to at a young age. Younger children can and will enjoy long and complicated stories with words they do not understand. It is a mistake, particularly as children are just learning to read, not to read things to them beyond their reading level. Younger children just learning to read can read books at their reading level along with having books read to them far above that level.
In addition to suggesting classic stories specifically for younger children I also introduce them to standard classics by way of abridgements and biographies about authors. When they eventually confront the unabridged version of Homer's Odyssey or one of Shakespeare's plays they'll already know basic plots and characters and feel familiar with the work instead of intimidated. I've read some great abridgements of Don Quixote, The Epic of Gilgamesh and Shakespeare's plays to my son.
The older student's reading list is a classics or "great books" list. These stories have lasted through the ages. Many of them have affected the cultures which produced them and the best of them have influenced many, many generations of readers. They do this because they touch themes, questions and emotions that are common to humankind.
In education it is important to use what works. There are a lot of different ideas out there about how to educate our children. Many of them are very, very good and many of them work for lots and lots of children. However, just because one method works for many children does not mean that it will work for all of them.
My wife and I spend most of our educational time simply reading to our son. We choose books (many of them current) that explore history, historical figures, science, literature, math and more. We avoid textbooks and worksheets. That's our method, not the only method. Children are different and part of the challenge and difficulty of being a parent and/or teacher is to nurture and discover our children's/student's talents, desires and preferred (best) ways of learning.
Content is King. The content of this site has the highest priority which is why I will have no advertising here: no flashing boxes, no pop-ups, no annoying animations and no static ads lining both sides of the page. Your subscription price pays my salary and gives you a calm and peaceful place to come to plan your child's or student's literature education. The closest thing to advertising I have are links to Amazon.com to purchase the books and a link to the Millstone Education Store. The links for Amazon are provided as a convenience and all links will only consist of text. The Millstone Education Store will initially sell t-shirts with literary themes, but I hope in the future to begin selling some of what is on this site in book form.
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