As part of our homeschool lessons last year (as well as this coming year) we read selections from Rudyard Kipling’s Just So Stories. We also started reading The Jungle Book for fun. Note: the books ARE NOTHING LIKE THE DISNEY CARTOON VERSIONS. That may be obvious, but it is worth stating because we (especially those of my generation who grew up with the Disney version now considered quaint, compared with “modern versions” of Tarzan etc.) have images in our heads of Mowgli that are Disney, not Kipling.
If you haven’t read these, you should. They are amazing! What worked for us was to read a story (or part of one) while the kids eat lunch/snack. Fair warning: the stories are charming, meandering and…wordy.
But as soon as the Mariner, who was a man of infinite-resource-and-sagacity, found himself truly inside the Whale’s warm, dark, inside cup-boards, he stumped and he jumped and he thumped and he bumped, and he pranced and he danced, and he banged and he clanged, and he hit and he bit, and he leaped and he creeped, and he prowled and he howled, and he hopped and he dropped, and he cried and he sighed, and he crawled and he bawled, and he stepped and he lepped, and he danced hornpipes where he shouldn’t, and the Whale felt most unhappy indeed. – from How the Whale Got his Throat
If your normal reading routine is The Cat in the Hat, these are going to be a shock to your system. Maybe your kids won’t sit still for a whole one, or maybe it will be hard for you to read the whole thing at once. Friend, it is so worth it! Give it a try. You will soon be enjoying the way Kipling’s descriptions roll off the tongue (or twist it!) and how clever his characters are.
Yesterday, I discovered a very cool website called Storynory. The site has recordings of many of Kipling’s stories, all of which I listened to with both kids. We were spellbound. Mesmerized. If reading the books yourselves is too much, go here and listen. It’s amazing!!
Our favorite (not by far) was the telling of Rikki-Tikki-Tavi which we actually had not read together yet. It just might be the overall best story that we read this year. It certainly is in the top three. The story is thrilling and epic, and might scare very young listeners, though my four year old loved it. You can listen online or download the file to your computer (straight into iTunes even). Listen and be captivated. This, this is what education is meant to be!