Saturday, January 03, 2009

A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
Ages 7+

This year for the first time we read A Christmas Carol together as a family as we approached Christmas. I was reminded again of what a great story it really is. When I first read it a few years ago I realized how much better the actual book is than any adaptations I had ever seen. The book has a strong Christian basis and reminds the reader that the “joy of the season” is rooted not in circumstances but in the gospel. There are poignant reminders of the importance of caring for others, for making the most of life and other key truths.

Two things make it difficult to include younger children though. First, some of the ghosts are intended to be frightful and they are at times. Dickens tells his story well, but probably beyond what many younger children are ready for. Second, the language and concepts are difficult at many places. This is due to the age of the book and to the fact that Dickens was not targeting young children. Various aspects of life which Dickens mentions are no longer common, and thus can be confusing. I found myself often rewording as I read and pausing to explain. My son who turned 9 while we read this book said he enjoyed the book though he did not understand all of it- even with my explanations.

In the end, I would recommend A Christmas Carol for family reading, especially for those with older children and with parents taking time to explain. Children will catch the main points and they will be introduced to a classic to which your family and the child individually can return often in years to come.

(My link above takes you to a listing of variosu editions. You can find very inexpensive editions.)

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