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Kids Room Education Which books/music/paintings should kids be engaging with?
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Which books/music/paintings should kids be engaging with?
Which books would you recommend kids read? We know some books we prefer to leave for when kids are old enough to understand their subtleties and wrongdoings (some cases have been discussed here in conversations on Childern's books  and How do we inoculate young girls against gender stereotypes), so which books are good for which age? As a kid I loved the Dumas books, the Three musketeers, The Count of Monte Cristo, but today’s kids are more mature. At which age should they be reading these books? Is their maturity real?

Another question is that people ban kids from reading books, and perhaps paintings with a lot of nudity in them, but what about music pieces? Are there works that kids shouldn’t be allowed to hear? Are there paintings kids shouldn't be seeing?  Which paintings and which music pieces should they definitely be engaging with, and at what age?

Or even other artworks - Dance, Theater, Photography, etc.
Books Discussed
The Count of Monte Cristo (Everyman's Library)
by Alexandre Dumas
The Three Musketeers (Oxford World's Classics)
by Alexandre Dumas

I introduced my neices and nephews to books about the artist Paul Klee.  His playful childlike works appealed to them and generated an interest in other non traditional modern art works.  They love to imitate the abstract works.  The more disicplined work can come later as they get older and more sophisticated.
Was cruising thru topics and came across this one. Your posts seemed kinda lonely, so I thought I'd give you some thoughts on this really good and clearly neglected idea.
I started giving my son exposure to important works when he was pretty young. But it was more about teaching him to look for classics, find them for himself.

When he was about 11 we read one of my favorite books from grade school, Island of the Blue Dolphins. Also Phantom Toll Booth, a really good one for learning about perspectives. He and I took turns reading the first Harry Potter book aloud to his sister that year as she was in first grade. (All Potter books, both Beatrix and Harry, were read with British accents.) 

When he was in 7th grade we went to London for spring break where we went to St. Paul's, the Tower, Westminister Abbey, The National Portrait Gallery, took the tour at the Globe. shopped on Portabello Road and laughed at the crazies on Speaker's Corner. We spent a day at Hampton Court and one in Salisbury to see Stonehenge and the cathedral. We saw Les Miz, his favorite show, and I let him play video games in the Picadilly Sega parlor at midnight.

About that time I gave him a list of "must see" movies, explaining that film is the literature of the 20th century and he'd already missed about 50 years worth of good ones so he had a lot of catching up to do. We watched everything from Casablanca and Bridge Over the River Kwai to Drs. Strangelove, Zhivago and No, A Clockwork Orange, Chinatown, Butch Cassidy and The Sting, Cool Hand Luke, Harold and Maude, Lawrence of Arabia, all the Marx Brothers, Psycho and Young Frankenstein. Of course he was already in love with Star Wars, Animal House and Blazing Saddles because kids always love those.

For a while I got a jag on putting CD's into my kids Easter baskets every year. When Mace was 14, he got a copy of Black Sabbath Paranoid (this was before the Osbornes were on TV). He looked at me quizzically and asked why this? I told him because there was a law somewhere that said every 14 year old boy must have a copy of Iron Man. He said he didn't understand. I said, "Don't worry, you will." By the time he graduated high school, it was legend. That same year I bought a copy of the Sports Illustrated swim suit issue, wrapped it up and sent it to school as a gift to his lunch table. 

We went regularly to the Chicago Art Institute, The Field and The Science and Industry Museums and saw productions at The Goodman. His senior year in HS I took him to see Hal Holbrook do Mark Twain and lucked out with tickets to see Arthur Miller's Finishing the Picture, which starred Mathew Modine, Scott Glenn, Linda Lavin and other well-known actors. When Mace asked why all these stars were in the show, I said, "This will be the last play by an American icon. For the rest of their lives, these actors will be able to say they were in the premier of Miller's last play." The show wasn't that great, but it was a classic moment and Miller died two months later.

I was a HUGE fan of the Chicago Humanities Festival. When I noticed Neil Gaiman would be speaking in '04, I got tickets immediately. Mace and his BF, Zac, had never been to a lecture and book signing before and Gaiman was their idol. The both brought their beat up copies of American Gods for him to sign and still talk about what it meant to meet him.

I maintain it's not about what kids read or see or hear or know, or shouldn't,  that's so important. It's about looking for opportunities to create classic moments, ones which kids will remember for the rest of their lives and draw on. Ones that will help them identify genuine experiences for themselves as they get older and you aren't there to point it out for them.

And, BTW, I'm a huge Klee fan, as well.
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Latest Post: August 22, 2011 at 11:42 PM
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