Disney’s live action The Jungle Book pounces into theaters April 15th! Jon Favreau promises a closer interpretation of the text this time around (not that I have anything against the 60s classic), so that gives every American kid 3 months to finish the book.
You probably know that besides The Jungle Book, Rudyard Kipling also wrote the poem If; you may have memorized it in junior high. You may even have read Captains Courageous as a kid—or at least the abridged version, because let’s face it, all that nautical jargon gets in the way of a good story. But did you know that Kipling was a prolific writer and that more than half a dozen of his novels are considered classics?
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There are too many books in the world worth reading. There are too many books in the world not worth reading. Assuming one reads the books worth reading, at a pace of one Great Book a week (a nearly impossible feat when reading aloud) only 52 books may be read each year. That’s a great reminder to make every book count; while it certainly won’t harm your kids to read a crappy book every now and then, make sure the books you choose to read aloud are above reproach.
Some writers get me all fired up and make me want to read every single word they ever wrote. Edgar Rice Burroughs is one. Edgar Allan Poe is another. Jane Austen. Mark Twain. Oscar Wilde. But when I’m choosing read aloud books for my kids, I simply do not have time to read the entire catalogue of each of my favorite authors. I have to focus on the magnum opus, the most important work of each.
Since I can’t read everything, I have become a master of the author introduction. Before we begin reading any book, I take a few minutes to talk about the author and where he came from, and check the publication date and remind the kids what was going on in the world during the book’s historical setting.
Kids, meet James Fenimore Cooper. He was an American author in the early 1800s. He mostly wrote about the American frontier. We’re reading The Last of the Mohicans, but that’s really Episode II—but it’s more like Episode I because The Last of the Mohicans is a prequel to Cooper’s first novel in this series. This book is set during the French and Indian War. What were the two sides in the French and Indian War? Yep, it was the French against the British…why didn’t they call it the French & British War? I don’t know—let’s Google it….
You, Teacher, Mom, it is your job to introduce, not to reveal all. Because there are not enough hours in the day, in our lives, to read everything we want to read. So this month, you read The Jungle Book. You mention that there is a Second Jungle Book. Oh yeah, there’s also some book called Captains Courageous—I think Rudyard Kipling wrote that one too. It’s about, you know, a rich brat who gets whipped into shape at sea.
You order every Kipling book from the library and you do what it is moms do best: you lead your kids to water. No, you can’t make them drink, but you can strew like a ninja. For the uninitiated, to strew is to leave interesting things around the house nonchalantly, semi-hidden, or in the garbage—places kids are sure to notice them, and perhaps ingest them.
Five Rudyard Kipling Books That Are Not The Jungle Book
[1894 The Jungle Book]
- 1895 The Second Jungle Book
- 1897 Captains Courageous
- 1899 Stalky and Co.
- 1901 Kim
- 1902 Just So Stories
I love Disney and its amazing interpretations of classic literature! Read more about it:
Who is your favorite character in The Jungle Book?