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Hilton Obenzinger <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 15 Feb 2003 14:08:44 -0800
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I question whether HF should be read in high school -- given some of the
quality of teaching -- much less by a 7 year old.  However, if I were to
read it out loud to a 7 year old, I would read it the way it is, word for
word, and describe the fact that the word is ugly, and why, explain slavery
and that the book is filled with dark and scary things, and we would talk
about each episode at length.  How do you explain the Grangerfords and
Sheperdsons?  How do you explain the murder of Buck?  How do you explain
the brutality of Pap?  So, if a kid can handle it, and if you as a parent
can truly deal with the implications, go ahead.  The best children's books
have a great deal of darkness to them -- try reading the original Pinocchio
out loud, for example.  But reading to a child is the beginning of literary
criticism -- and the parent should actively promote discussion.

Hilton Obenzinger
Stanford University