December 14, 2010

First Encounters with Dickens

A Christmas Carol (Puffin Classics)
Up until last year, I had never read the original A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens.  It's true.  I have seen countless movie versions and even read a few children's versions of the book to my children.  However, as far as the original work was concerned, I had never read it.  This all changed when my husband and I thought our oldest son was mature enough and reading well enough to embark on his own read through of this classic. 

Wanting to be aware of the specific content of the books our children are reading, we decided a quick read through on our part was necessary.  I was leery to read Dickens again.  During middle school, we were required to read Great Expectations. I am sure it is a well written novel, but due to the dreary presentation and overload of academic requirements for the book, I never wanted to pick up another Dickens novel again.  That had been 20+ years ago.  Since that time, I had heard others say Dickens was a great author and his stories were classics.  Typically, I smiled and nodded politely in response, thinking I would never want to embark on another Dickens novel ever again.  Then last November, when my husband and I discussed the necessity of a parental read through, it was with apprehension, I volunteered.  After all, I reasoned, I would then be able to compare the original to the other renditions I had seen or read previously, and perhaps there was something to the written works of Dickens.  

From the first page, I was hooked.  The read through turned out to be an awesome reading adventure.  I read the work in a mere two days.  I do tend to read fast, and the book is around 100 pages, but it was that good.  I could not put it down.  Being familiar with the basic story line allowed me to concentrate on the more intricate details of the characters and the novel itself.  There were a few parts that were quite scary for me like the initial meeting of Scrooge with the ghost of Jacob Marley.  However, overall the book was well written and I definitely understand why there are so many book versions and movies based on the original.  It is that good.

After my read through, our son read the book.  It was his first encounter with Dickens.  I held my breath awaiting his verdict.  Would the accompanying learning activities I had created help him to enjoy this classic author or would his experience be more akin to my first encounter with Dickens?  He read the book and completed the activities over a few weeks.  Afterwards, he deemed it "OK, not my favorite, but still good."  I'll gladly take that response as I know it means he won't take 20+ years to pick up another book by Dickens.

On a side note, my husband and I thought perhaps watching A Christmas Carol film would be a fun closing activity for our son.  We considered the then in theaters 3-D rendition with Jim Carrey, rated PG, but after researching its content and reading reviews from trusted sources like Plugged In, a website sponsored by Focus on the Family, we decided to watch a more family friendly version that we could all enjoy.

This post has been linked to the Hip Homeschool Hop.  If you are looking for homeschooling resources or other homeschool families, then visit this fun weekly link-up. 


  1. Hi Dorie,
    I'm visiting from Hip HS Hop. I'm linked up just below your blog :) I just read a child's version of A Christmas Carol to my children and some of my kids liked it better than others. I don't think I have ever read the original version. I'm glad your son thought it was a good read. Have a blessed day! I am now following you!

    Tracy at "A Slice of Smith Life"

  2. We all 'discovered' The Christmas Carol, the Christmas before last. My husband read it aloud to all of us. Afterwards, my daughter read it herself and even started working on her own version of a play with her friends. What version of the movie did you decided on?

  3. Oh my...we had similar experiences with Pip, I think!!

    So what version did you decide upon? We also rely a lot on Plugged In...even for us grown ups!

  4. Debbie and Annette:
    We decided on Albert Finney's Scrooge from 1970. My husband's parents introduced us to it years ago, and we opted to share that version. The visual quality is definitely dated, but we thought it was enterating. It is a musical with song and dance numbers. After we watched it, we walked about singing "Thank you very much..." for days.

  5. Loved reading a Christmas Carol. Dickens is definitely an author that I enjoy reading! Stopping by from the Hip Homeschool Hop!


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