I’ve decided that my little girl can handle chapter books. Or, rather– I think that she MIGHT be able to handle it, and I want to get into the habit of pushing her.
Abbey has a remarkable capacity for story. I see it in the books we already read her (shorter, “children’s” books), in the shows she watches, and… well, it’s just obvious that her mind focuses very sharply when she hears a story.
So, we’re giving chapter books a try. And, what do you know? She is really enjoying the Narnia series- we started last week with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Of course, there’s another reason (beside story-retaining capacity) I’m trying out Narnia books on Abbey. I want to see how well she understands moral & theological concepts, and Narnia is a perfect place to do this. It offers the unique opportunity to understand these concepts obliquely without “inserting God” into the question; kids have the habit of answering what you want them to say when you’re asking about God. Because the subject is one of importance- and kids really get this- they’re attuned to answer the question the way you want them to answer it, even if they think something else. But the real learning only happens when they can answer freely and honestly. (This concept works exactly the same with adults, as a matter of fact.)
So, tonight, Opa was reading to Abbey about Edmund’s first encounter with the White Witch. If you recall the story (I believe it’s chapter 4), the Witch pretends to be nice to be nice to Edmund, when in fact she’s only manipulating him. Opa & I peppered Abbey with comprehension questions afterwards, to see if she understood that the Witch wasn’t actually being nice.
Abbey’s comprehension was quite sharp. She definitely understood that the Witch didn’t truly care for Edmund, and that she wanted something else from Edmund. So we stuck on that topic for a while- eg, ‘is it good to pretend to be nice to someone when you really want something else?’ (answer: no)… or, ‘do you think the Witch is trying to ‘trick’ Edmund?’ (answer: yes)… ‘should you trick others?’ (answer: no).
These are all great benchmarks for comprehension. Not only is she putting details of the story together, but she clearly understands something about fairness. And we will build on that for later stories we read together.