Reading Aloud Alice

Dear Alice,

Your visit this year was excellent as always. My students appreciated enormously the wit and wisdom of your story, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Only one had actually read you before; the rest knew you vaguely from the Disney movie or books thereof. The one who had read you hadn’t especially liked the experience, expecting an adventure more of the Harry Potter sort, no doubt. However, this time she had a blast!

Knowing of my obsession with you, my class was eager to get going. As always I read you from The Annotated Alice, slipping in context as necessary, say some of the original poetry that Carroll parodies in his verse. For example, “How doth the Little Crocodile” is a parody of Isaac Watt’s didactic poem, “How doth the Little Bee” which the original child audience would have known well. I also brought in some of the story behind the story — that of the Reverend Charles Dodgson (Carroll’s real name) at Christ Church College in Oxford and his telling of the story to Alice Liddell and her two sisters. Lots of fun references to Oxford and the girls’ real life are sprinkle throughout.

I read it to them while they followed along in a variety of illustrated editions. They enjoyed Carroll’s own illustrations, those of John Tenniel (the illustrator of the first published edition), Arthur Rackham‘s, Peter Newell‘s, Angel Dominguez‘s, Helen Oxenbury‘s, and Alison Jay‘s to name a few of their favorites. I also showed them Robert Sabuda’s pop-up and read to them Whoopie Goldberg’s variant, Alice.

Before starting you, I showed the kids The 1900 House, a reality show where a family had to live for three months as in 1900 London. The kids loved it and I think it gave them some sense of what life might have been like for Alice, some thirty-five years earlier. And then, during the week or two that I was reading you, I also showed the kids the BBC production of The Young Visiters, sort of Victorian/sort of Edwardian I think, with a similar bizarre sensiblity to your story. Most recently, in preparation for our project, I showed them a pretty dreadful version from 1985 (of which they were most fascinated by Ringo Starr as the Mock Turtle while I was fascinated to noticed that the screenplay was by Paul Zindel). With the latter, I wanted them to pay attention to the different screen shots, especially with chapters like “A Mad Tea-Party” which can seem all talk and no action. After our spring break I plan to introduce them to our anime-ish project, pairing them up to create small movies for each chapter. We’ll post them on our class blog and I’d very much like to put them on youtube too. (I’m really into youtube as a teaching resource. Yesterday, after finishing the movie some of the kids and I commented that the girl playing Alice looked a bit like Shirley Temple. I then went to youtube and found several clips so they could see what she was like exactly.)

I feel as if I could practically recite you, I’ve read you aloud so many times. Because of this I do notice that your creator does over use the words curious and melancholy, but that’s okay. His book and yours is still as fresh today as it was when my father first read it to me eons ago.

Thanks again for another wonderful time together. Can’t wait to do it again!





Filed under Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Reading, Reading Aloud, Teaching, Writing

9 responses to “Reading Aloud Alice

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