YEAR 6 (1)
10-11 Sutcliffe’s Iliad and Odyssey
Primary Level Classics
I tend to start off with Aesop’s Fables for young children, and there are plenty of versions available very cheaply. We have ‘The Aesop for Children’ by Milo Winter, which has large print, engaging illustrations and is nicely written: it can be used from any age. Have a browse around and find one which suits your family.
Next we move onto Greek myths. Again, there is a lot available. Here’s a run through the some popular versions which we’ve used with ages 5 -10 and which you might well come across: ‘Favourite Greek myths’ by Bob Blaisdell, Dover has a quite dull text and unremarkable illustrations but is OK for an introduction and the text is simple enough for a new-ish reader. ‘Favorite Greek Myths’ by Mary Pope Osborne is an American book, very nicely retold with lovely illustrations, and a good choice of stories taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses.
D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths is recommended on almost every American Classical Education website I’ve ever seen, but I must confess I don’t like it much! Some of the drawings are very poor, and the text is uninspiring, but the book is at least thorough in terms of what it covers (gods, minor gods and heroes) so is worth having if you can find it cheaply (and the pictures match the text well, which is useful for discussion purposes).
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Wonder Book , and his Tanglewood Tales are popular for this age group. They provide an odd, slightly twee ‘Victoriana’ take on the myths (late 1880s), retold as a story within a story, but Hawthorne writes very well. Due to the old-fashioned language, these would probably be a read-aloud for under 10’s.
Finally in this age group we look at Homer. Perfect for the 10-11 age group, Rosmary Sutcliffe’s ‘Black Ships Before Troy’ and ‘The Wanderings of Odysseus’ are amongst our favourite re-tellings of Homer’s epic tales. Sutcliffe manages to capture the flavour of Homer’s language but in a way that is easily accessible to children and holds their interest: as with all Sutcliffe’s books, it’s also a pleasure to read aloud. The illustrations, by Alan Lee of Lord of the Rings fame, are excellent and match the text perfectly. Another alternative is Roger Lancelyn Green’s ‘The Tale of Troy’ – a little dryer than the Sutcliffe but Green is always reliable and writes very well. Sadly, there really isn’t much available when it comes to Roman myths or history for this age group, hence the emphasis on the Greeks. Geraldine Mccaughrean’s ‘The Orchard Book of Roman Myths’ is one of the few on the market for primary aged children, and has the advantage of being available as an audio book as well.