Campbell’s books?




Condensed soup has its place (in my bowl with a grilled cheese sandwich waiting to be dipped) and, to some people, condensed books have their place as well. When I was a kid my grandfather had a room full of Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. I was lucky enough to have that room to sleep in when we were visiting. Night owl that I am, I read a lot of these books. I loved that I could get through a book in a late evening/early night and there were usually a couple more books in the volume that I’d move on to the next night. I’m not sure I remember any of those stories, but I enjoyed them at the time.

Some people appreciate abridged books, while others not so much. As a librarian, most of the abridgements geared toward kids I see are classics. Classics aren’t usually something meant for children to read by themselves. To make them more accessible publishers add pictures and edit the content. I’m kind of torn about this, not because I don’t think kids should be reading them, but because I don’t want a kid to think “I read that book” and never return to the original. Maybe they would never read the original, so it’s better that they have some exposure to it but, if you’re just trying to get the story, why not watch the movie? What makes literature literature isn’t just the story line, it’s the writing, the style, the ideas: the content. If you change the content, are you still reading literature?

My suggestion, hold the classics for a little older children and then share them with your kids. Read together. Or, if you can’t hold off (school assignment), try what the first link suggests and get the audiobook for the kid to read along to. Being read to allows for much more complicated sentence structure than reading alone (see the difference between the writing in a picture book and a beginning reader board book). If you must, sure use the abridgements or check out some of the graphic novels out there that are pretty awesome.

And, if you read one of the illustrated classics as a kid, do yourself a favor and pick up the original.

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