Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Hobbit :: Read-Aloud Thursday

Read-Aloud Thursday at Hope Is the WordTime for another Read Aloud Thursday hosted by Amy at Hope is the Word. (I'm posting today as per my M/W/F posting schedule, but will link to RAT tomorrow.)

Yes, folks! We did it! We read The Hobbit! And before any amount of time passes, I wish to document our adventures with Mr. Bilbo Baggins.

For starters, if you are somehow unaware of what The Hobbit is about, here is the author's personal description:

"If you care for journeys there and back, out of the comfortable Western world, over the edge of the Wild, and home again, and can take an interest in a humble hero (blessed with a little wisdom and a little courage and considerable good luck), here is a record of such a journey and such a traveler. The period is the ancient time between the age of Faerie and the dominion of men, when the famous forest of Mirkwood was still standing, and the mountains were full of danger. In following the path of this humble adventurer, you will learn by the way (as he did) -- if you do not already know all about these things -- much about trolls, goblins, dwarves, and elves, and get some glimpses into the history and politics of a neglected but important period. For Mr. Bilbo Baggins visited various notable persons; conversed with the dragon, Smaug the Magnificent; and was present, rather unwillingly, at the Battle of the Five Armies. This is all the more remarkable, since he was a hobbit. Hobbits have hitherto been passed over in history and legend, perhaps because they as a rule preferred comfort to excitement. But this account, based on his personal memoirs, of the one exciting year in the otherwise quiet life of Mr. Baggins will give you a fair idea of the estimable people now (it is said) becoming rather rare. They do not like noise."

Now, I should tell you two things about our reading experience:

1. It came about as the result of the arrival of certain Lord of the Rings Legos which arrived *ahem* on our doorstep. Before the Lego Maniac is allowed to open up those sets, he must read the books. And we must start at the beginning - which is, of course, with The Hobbit. (It will obviously be a little while before we open those Lego boxes, but that's ok. I think we should age a bit before we move in with the trilogy.)

2. Bookworm1 is five years old and while some might think The Hobbit to be a bit above him, I thought it would be good for him to rise to the challenge. And it was! (Challenges are always good for us. We just frequently don't like to admit it!)

I think children can comprehend a lot more than we give them credit for and while they certainly have limitations, we place more on them than is really necessary. When it comes to literature, I would rather stretch them and grow their horizons early on. Coupled with the fact that I'm the mother to two boys, I want to read books to them that encourage them to want to live an honorable and adventurous life. For us, The Hobbit fit the bill for this moment in time. (Also, Mommy wanted to re-read this work before the movie is released this coming December! 'Twas a nice excuse!)

Although Tolkien was a bit wordy (there are some rather long descriptions of the land the hobbit and dwarves traversed) we ploughed through and read every word aloud. Certainly there were times when he was distracted or lost with the descriptions, but he did fully comprehend the story. Before we'd begin a new chapter we'd talk through what had happened in the last one (to refresh both of our memories!) and to make sure the story was sinking in. I'm not so naive to think that he won't need to re-read this one in the future, but at least I know the story will be familiar to him and I imagine that it will be just as exciting then.

Not every chapter was exciting to him, but most were. At various points of time (mostly when goblins were present) he was sitting rigid next to me, holding his breath, waiting to find out what happened. (His ears were even turning red.) And the character of Gollum was certainly interesting as well. All scenes which included Smaug the Dragon were well-received and the Skin Changer was a great curiosity. Bilbo brought a few laughs and the hamster we added to our family during the reading of this book bears his name.

Meet Mr. Baggins:

Personally, I loved reading this book with my oldest (with my second born in close proximity)! It was a challenging read, but worth every effort as it's a rather incredible story. And now Mommy and Daddy are eagerly looking forward to a date night on December 14th. Because I'm happy going there and back again a few times more!


Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Excellent! Since I just read The Hobbit myself for the first time two years ago, I don't have the familiarity and history with it that so many others do. I'll definitely add this one to our To Be Read Aloud queue! :-)

Gina @ Hott Books said...

I'm so excited for you! What a wonderful thing to read as a family!

Barbara H. said...

Oh, I can't wait for the movie!!! I read the book a few years ago but would love to read it again before the movie comes out. I looked for an audiobook of it but only found "dramatizations" at the place I usually get them.

Queen of Carrots said...

We are still working our way through it and even the twins seem to be getting something out of it. The big kids LOVE it and act it out as we go along.

Diary of an Autodidact said...

I wasn't quite that young, but I do remember my dad reading The Hobbit to us as kids. (He also introduced us to Out of the Silent Planet and a version of Red Storm Rising with the language and sex left out.) I will need to read this to the kids. Also, the movie looks great.

Joyful Reader said...

I agree that we should stretch our kids in the area of literature. I am a child of a baby-boomer and they didn't really make me do anything that I didn't want to (short of a few chores). Myself on the other had am encouraging my kids to read above what is "comfortable" to them. They are appreciating the challenge.

Stephanie Kay said...

Wow! The Hobbit already?! Joel just started reading it with our gang. The oldest is the only one that's really into the story. The others come and go as it interests them.

Bluerose said...

That's awesome!

I've been attempting to stretch Grasshopper's reading(my reading to him), too, although nowhere near the level of "The Hobbit". :)

Cute hamster! It brings back many childhood memories.

Heather VanTimmeren said...

Oh, we have a date night planned for December 14th, too, or maybe it will be a family outing. Daddy read it aloud to our kids, 5 & 8, a few months ago, and it was enthusiastically received!

Stephanie said...

How cool. : ) We are getting into a good read-aloud before bed routine going here with The Magician's Nephew. I may have to put The Hobbit in the queue next! I wouldn't have thought to try that one with my munchkins and it's been YEARS since I've read it. (I think it's the only one of the series I have read!) But since I usually won't let my kids see the movie until they've read (or had read to them) the book ... a-hem. : )

Annette W. said...

I have never read this or LotR. Yeah, I know. I should, and now I have good motivation! I'm wondering if it'd be better for US to wait till E is 5 or so...since I think he'd love it.

We just read The World According to Humphrey. Have you? With a hamster in the house you should!

Sky said...

I often live in LOTR in my head. I could be a Rohirriam or Ent quite happily I believe. I absolutely love The Hobbit and I am really hoping that Mr is home when it is in theater so we can see it together. Will I see it alone if need be? Yes, yes I will.

Mary Prather said...

We have been listening to The Hobbit on audio and it's really good! My seven year old son got a small LEGO set with Bilbo Baggins after we had listened to the first five chapters.

I agree that we underestimate what our kids can take in - it's an awesome story!!!

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