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July 17, 2010


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I don't know enough about Buddhism to judge, but that seems like an interesting idea. Also interesting is your point regarding Bilbo's misery. When you put it like that, it makes you pity Gollum even more.

I think it would be better to read the LOTR first, rather than seeing the movie, even if it means waiting a few years. Not only because the book is immeasurably better, but also because films tend to colonise the imagination. This makes it harder to experience books on their own terms.

Kirsten Edwards

But do get the sound track - I listen to it on my annual re-reads now every year. It's exactly right.

As to your question: Let them find LOTR on their own, unless you have some reason to believe they won't manage it. In which case, if you can get a copy of the Rob Inglis book-on-tape/book-on-cassette/book-on-recorded-medium-du-jour (http://catalog.kcls.org/record=b1297871~S50) If you aren't familiar with the man's work, remember how great Patrick Stewart's one man show of A Christmas Carol was? This is the one-man-show of LOTR/The Hobbit.

How about Mowgli? Kipling's jungle books would be a first-rate aloud at that age...


This may be overly cautious, as your boys are still very young, but I would recommend that you not introduce them to LOTR or in fact any sort of science fiction or fantasy, beyond what's already happened. In our society there's an image of sci-fi/fantasy fans as introverted Beta male losers who can't get sex to save their lives. Even if your boys end up with completely different personalities when they reach dating age, if it becomes known that they're interested in sci-fi and fantasy - and stuff like that can be addictive, with interests being hard to conceal - many girls will run the other way, fast.

Your sons are still young enough that you can put them on the right path.


Tony Zbaraschuk

OK, so we know the right age for Hobbit-readings. You'll have to let us know what the right age for Lord of the Rings is...

Andrew R.

Tolkien's moral imagination really is incredible. What I find amazing is that he's really good for both seven-year olds and thirty-year olds alike. Seriously, I had a moment of thinking about the Silmarillion and how the Noldor react to the darkening of Valinor--they're clearly the good guys, but when they lash out for revenge, full of hate and pride, they wind up being capable of horrific evil. And for some reason, my thoughts kind of popped back to America in the couple of years after 9/11 and thought, "Holy crap! That's us!"

I find that his presentation of Christianity is far, far better than his fellow-inkling Lewis.


@Peter: is this intentionally so funny silly? You tell a guy who has "met" his future wife at a science fiction mailing list, that "girls will run the other way" if boys are to interested in SF&Fantasy?

Best wishes, Hella, who knows Claudia (also from the same SF mailing list)
((btw, if you are not German: Hella is a female first name :-) ))

Bernard Guerrero

"You tell a guy who has "met" his future wife at a science fiction mailing list, that "girls will run the other way" if boys are to interested in SF&Fantasy?"

LOL! That said, there are different levels of nerdiness available. My wife likes Tolkien plenty, but I've heard her laughing about (that is, at) the guys running around on her college campus with tinfoil swords often enough.


Hella!! Heh, I didn't want to say anything but I thought this was funny, too. I gather Peter didn't know that which goes to prove that even Sci-Fi nerds can assimilate, eh?

Great to hear from you again! How are you??!


Hi Claudia, I'm rather well, thank you. Geeky me found my own geek ...
with the nice side effect to enhance the in-house SF&Fantasy library :-)

And now I subscribe to your blog, too (In all your blog moves I've lost the track in this one)


A bit late on this, but... I'm flabbergasted at the suggestion that a parent should shape a child's reading choices so as to enhance the child's social standing/dating appeal in the teenage years. To "put them on the right path" of avoiding certain books for the image it would create? Yes, let's encourage our children to shape their personalities to the whims of high-school popularity contests.

Honestly, horrified.


I'm with Julia and Hella. Personally, I think that SF does a great job of expanding a child's imagination. Introduced both of my sons at early ages. In fact, my husband read the Hobbit to at least one of them when around the age of Doug and Claudia's elder two sons.

Oh and anyone who would run from me if they found I was an SF fan would be someone I wouldn't be interested in anyhow! :) My husband and I are both SF fans. Both sons are avid readers, the elder one preferring classics and some SF, the younger one preferring fantasy but reads quite a bit of SF too. Note, all 4 of us are Vorkosigan fans!

Doug (not Muir)

I think the following is more or less obligatory at this point:

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs."


crocs for toddlers

This was and still is my favourite book as a child. The lord of the rings is harder going but just as brilliant. I will be handing my copies to my son when he is old enough to tackle them. Sure you can see the films but the books are so magical and let your imagination run wild!!

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