Did everybody but me know that Rudyard Kipling is not appropriate for children? I had a little space in my teaching schedule this week and I thought I’d read the kids a couple of the Just So Stories, since we had just read a few fables in the unit I was covering. And then I spent an hour and a half trying to find one to read. Project Gutenburg has the vast majority of the tales free online, so finding the texts wasn’t hard. Finding one that I was comfortable reading in front of the kids was much harder. The Elephant’s Child is full of domestic violence. Several of them, including one about a Rhinoceros, are VERY RACIST against Asians. This is problematic for obvious reasons. There were a few that were super boring, including one about the creation of the alphabet (?!?). And so I ended up reading them How the Camel Got Its Hump, while taking out the words that were way above their vocabulary level. They liked it and asked for a second one, and I had to tell them that I didn’t have a second one for them to listen to. It was the only one that I could find.
I remember as a child listening to radio adaptations of the Just So Stories. They were full cast works with narrators and Bobby McFerrin, I think, providing music for it. Now I wonder how much they were adapted. Did I think that these were children’s stories because National Public Radio took out all the parts that I didn’t want to read to my 6th graders? Or did the various horrors just not register with me? I don’t know for sure, but now I want to try and find them to re-listen to them.