Wednesday, August 22, 2012

First Son's Narration: The Riddle of the Sphinx

There once was a king and queen that really wanted a son and at last the queen gave birth to a baby boy. Then when the king brought his son to the temple of Apollo, the priest there said that he would kill his father and have his father’s queen for his wife. Then when the king heard this, he ordered one of his servant’s to kill his son, but when the servant got where he planned to kill him, he pierced his ankles and hung him up on a tree.

A shepherd came and found him and then he went to the city where he came from and gave him to the king and queen of that city. Then he grew up to be a good sports player, racing and boxing and wrestling. When he went to a temple to pray, the priestess there said that he would kill his father and take his father’s queen for his wife, just as his real father heard when he was just an infant.

Then he ran away through the city, tried to escape. He saw a chariot coming. The rider on top said “Get out of the way and let me pass.” And when he would not pass the servant tried to whip him, but the prince was too fast. He grabbed the whip, struck the servant dead and also knocked the man off the chariot and his head landed on a rock and then he died. Little did the prince know that this man was his real father.

Then he heard of a giant monster called the Sphinx which had the wings of an eagle, the head of a woman, and the body of a lion. Then he dared to go and try to answer its daring riddle. He solved it. Then the Sphinx went out of the city, cawing and flapping, cawing and flapping. And then he returned to the city and had a queen for his bride. Little did he know that this was his real mother, the second part of the prophecy.

Then a giant plague ran through the city which he was in. He sent messengers to go to the temple, to go into the hills, and see what they wanted them to do before the plague stopped. Then when all the other people didn’t know who, there was an old blind man who knew. Then the king said it wasn’t true. Then suddenly the story of his life unraveled and the truth came crashing down on him. And then he stabbed his own eyes to blindness. Then everyone started robbing from him. All he did was stumble and beg through all the streets. Only his own daughter cared about him. He drifted away in peace.

 -- narrated by First Son today (in third grade) after a reading of the myth in Classic Myths to Read Aloud

I resolve to read this post every time I despair of First Son's ability to narrate.


  1. At what age does one begin encouraging oral narration? I mean, obviously we talk about what we read and such around here, but it has got me thinking since we started the Little House books if I should encourage this a bit more with Gemma, or just let it be and enjoy the stories...

  2. Monica, I'm pretty sure Charlotte Mason advocates no narration until children are six years old. First Son is now 8 (will be 9 in December) and this is by far the best narration he has ever given. Most of the time he'll read three paragraphs and remember only the last sentence. It's a trial.

    First Daughter, on the other hand, has been a far better narrator than First Son for years already. Even now I have to tell her to hush all the time because she'll jump in before he finishes a thought.

    So some children are natural narrators and will spontaneously share everything back to you without prompting. If Gemma does this, go with it. I think it would also be appropriate to point things out at other times like, "You've helped Mommy sweep, just like Mary and Laura did." Connecting the readings to her life will increase her interest and also present opportunities for natural discussions about the differences between then and now (and the similarities) and a bit of what Gemma might be thinking and pondering about what she's heard.

    I would discourage you from asking about the reading itself as in a narration. Gemma is still young, and regardless, there are some books that should just be enjoyed. We read from at least a few books every day without narration - just to relish. Our first experiences with the Little House books and the Narnia books were like that.

  3. Thank you. I always appreciate your guidance and insight?

    Unrelated, sort of...have you guys read Mary Poppins and any of the Beverly Cleary books? And did you do the whole Little House series? Pondering where to go next. I know I'd like to do Mary Poppins at some point this year, as Gemma's godmother works for the local theatre and that is one of their productions next summer, so I think we will take her.

    Anyways, just curious what else you have done. I remember loving Cleary as a kid (mouse and the motorcycle, Ramona, etc.) but sometimes your perspective is different as an adult. I haven't revisited those for years.

  4. I have no idea why I put a "?" after the first sentence. Probably because I should quit multitasking and help my kids finish their morning chores...

  5. Personally, I don't like the book Mary Poppins. It's one of those times I think Disney actually did better than the book. So my kids have seen the movie but we're not reading the book together. We've listened to all of the Little House books and the kids loved them all. Even Kansas Dad and I enjoyed them. Definitely worth it. We've also read quite a few of the Cleary books and the only thing I noticed at all was a little bit of kids being mean to each other in Henry Huggins, and of course there's sibling rivalry in the Ramona books, but nothing that really concerned me. Not that we've read them all. I should put one or two of them on the list for this year as the girls are probably old enough to really enjoy them now. First Son laughs out loud at the Mouse and the Motorcycle books and reads them on his own now.

    For Gemma and your crew I would highly recommend Happy Little Family by Rebecca Caudill. There's a whole series. I bought the other three to read aloud this year but haven't pre-read them myself (and probably won't). You might also want to consider The Best Loved Doll and All-of-a-Kind Family. I haven't read these aloud yet because I've been waiting for my girls to get a little older (though I think First Son will listen along fairly happily as he likes a good story, I try to make sure we have plenty of boy-protagonist stories). We listened to The Secret Garden in the van when First Daughter was 3 or 4 and she was happy listening to that as well, though I intend to read it again to them when she's older because there's so much good stuff in it.

  6. Oh thank you!!!! I will keep these all in mind.


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