The story I am about to tell will give you the wrong impression of us as a high-brow and literary family. Just remember, we are all about Disney Pixar...
However, this week, Beanie received a somewhat unusual gift for a 7-year-old from a friend of the family: Her own two-volume set of Edmund Spenser's "The Faerie Queene." It is a beautiful set - the Everyman's Library edition - in like-new condition, but with the old scent of a library wafting off its pages.
I believe I read, as a college undergraduate, a portion of Spenser from my Norton's Anthology, but it failed to leave a lasting impression on me. So, I admit that I looked a bit skeptically at the books, as lovely as they are. To be honest, I just like holding the books and turning the pages and smelling the librariness of them - and though I have not asked her, I think Beanie does, too. She not only likes to read, she likes books. Take that, amazon...
StraightMan and I have read a few verses aloud with her - I know that we failed to do justice to the Elizabethan English - and I am surprised at how we have been enjoying it.
(Of course, part of me inwardly groans at the notion that Beanie will become obsessed with Elizabethan literature, eventually writing her PhD on Spenser and the making of the modern English imaginary, then spending her days teaching composition to college students who will be unable to grip pens in their hands b/c they have evolved agile and elongated thumbs for texting. However, I digress.)
Beanie esp. liked the image of "a Dwarfe did lag, / That lasie seemd, in being ever last." "What does that mean?" she asked. I told her to imagine taking a walk with her brother and how much further and further behind he falls as we walk.
She objected to the characterization of "a Dragon horrible and stearne." "Well, actually," Beanie said, rather authoritatively, "dragons can be quite nice."
A Dwarf and a Dragon, not to mention a Knight and a Ladie?! I find myself being drawn into the story.
So, that is my message for today: Read something olde school with your kids!