The Child’s Story Introduces Young Readers to Dickens

 

The Child’s Story by Charles Dickens

Occasionally, I am the Mystery Reader at my daughter’s elementary school. The latest book I read for them is The Child’s Story by Charles Dickens. My favorite edition is the one published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (2000) illustrated by Harvey Chan.

It is a short story about a traveler who sets out on a journey and encounters these characters: a child at play, a boy who is learning, a young man in love, a busy middle-aged gentleman, a father and an old man who remembers. The story is written in the third person, closely following the traveler, but we also get to know each character that he meets. Together they experience life and its purposes and meaning according to the character’s age.

To say this is a story that explores a journey through each “season” of life would be trite. Rather, Dickens collects universal experiences of each life phase into one story. In this way, the story prepares children to see their future beyond childhood and reassures adults that the innocence and joy of youth can still be captured. My favorite line is “It was a magic journey, and was to seem very long when he began it, and very short when he got halfway through it.” Adults—those of us who are mid-way through our own journey—will enjoy how true this description is.

I have read a number of Dickens’ books and was pleased to find one that I could share with my children. His writing can be so matter-of-fact about the realities of life that he can sometimes seem harsh, unfeeling or even depressing. And while this story does not sugar-coat life’s hardships, he does show both the pleasantries and the struggles alongside each other. Although this is a picture book, the more serious theme is just right for older elementary students, probably between 7-10 years old.

Chan’s illustrations are exquisite and make Dickens approachable to younger readers. The lines are softened with feathering, texture and roundness. The foreground colors are muted but rich with deep blue, maroon, brown, green and gray. In contrast, the golden yellows and oranges of the background emphasize the light that touches each setting in varying degrees. I especially like the pencil sketches interspersed with the text.

Overall, The Child’s Story is an ideal introduction to Dickens for young readers. It will spark thoughts that broaden a child’s view of the future. And it can be a starter for meaningful conversations about life experiences like learning, love, marriage, work, death and old age.

Share on Facebook4Tweet about this on TwitterPin on Pinterest0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Share on StumbleUpon0Share on Tumblr0Email this to someone

3 Comments

  1. Minna
    Jan 9, 2008

    Thank you for this review. I’m always looking for great literature for my children, as young as they are. I will definitely put it in our “cart”.

  2. Andrew
    Nov 1, 2014

    I really looking forward to looking to read this story after reading this review.After reading this story,I would love to tell it to my friends and family.
    Thank You for this review

  3. Andrew
    Nov 1, 2014

    I am really Looking forward to read this book after reading this review.After reading the book,I would certainly read out the story to my Friends and Family.
    Thank You for writing this review.

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *