Archive for September 4th, 2009

Reading the Hobbit to Very Young Children

Friday, September 4th, 2009


We finished reading The Hobbit on September 1. We started on July 24, so this was a long time in reading. It was quite a success.

My strategy reading chapter books to very young children now is not to force them. We’d tried Harry Potter, Alice in Wonderland, Narnia and others during the normal reading time (when I do Dr. Seuss, P.D. Eastman, Bill Peet, and Maurice Sendak for all the kids). This did not work. Books without pictures bore the two year old and can’t keep the attention of the four and six year olds.

Instead, I started reading The Hobbit after they’d gone to bed. With the four year old and six year old in bed (two year old sleeps in a separate room), I’d sit in my reading chair and go through 5 or 10 pages. If they were interested, they could listen. If not, they could sleep or play quietly. I’m sure neither of them heard or understood every word. But when Bilbo Baggins was talking with Smaug, I had their rapt attention.

In general, I did not stop to explain words (there would have been too many). I tried to voice act the conversations as best I could, so the kids could follow those. And, every night, before starting and after finishing, I would summarize the latest events in the book. I’d also bring up the latest events as part of our dinner time conversations.

The biggest problem is that the book continues for 40 pages after Smaug is killed, and the kids couldn’t see any point in continuing the story after that. It was hard keeping enthusiasm for the story after that.