When school ended, my husband announced he wanted to start a family read aloud. Every evening before bed, he wanted to share a few chapters from one of his favorite books, WATERSHIP DOWN. If you’ve never read it before, here’s the premise:
The story follows a warren of Berkshire rabbits fleeing the destruction of their home by a land developer. As they search for a safe haven, skirting danger at every turn, we become acquainted with the band and its compelling culture and mythos. Adams has crafted a touching, involving world in the dirt and scrub of the English countryside, complete with its own folk history and language (the book comes with a “lapine” glossary, a guide to rabbitese). As much about freedom, ethics, and human nature as it is about a bunch of bunnies looking for a warm hidey-hole and some mates, Watership Down will continue to make the transition from classroom desk to bedside table for many generations to come. –Paul Hughes
Did you catch that first sentence, the one about this book being taught in high school? My boys are seven and nine. I was pretty skeptical about their interest in this big, fat, difficult book.
But guess what? We finished last weekend.
My little guy didn’t get every scene, but he followed a surprising amount of the story and often finessed a second or third chapter out of my husband. My nine-year-old (who loves to read but often needs to be pushed to pick up challenging books he hasn’t read before) finished before the family did. He’s gone on to read TALES FROM WATERSHIP DOWN, too.
How did these guys not only hang in there through page-long descriptions of England’s verdant copses, but also embrace the story enough to add rabbits Hazel, Big Wig, and Fiver to their playtime conversations?
Because Dad shared a story he loved.
I really and truly think this was the magic behind our summer experiment.