Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Greek Myths for the 21st Century Children

My Daughter’s First True Love

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Greek Myths Marcia Williams
I am so excited to write my monthly Poppins Book Nook post this month. See, the topic is Greek Myths, and this is the subject that my 7 year old is truly passionate about. I think this interest started when she was about 5, and we read together Greek Myths by Marcia Williams. How did we support this interest? For once, we didn’t try to “dumb it down”. I brought her to a sizeable section in our library with myths of the world and let her choose her own books (she was a fluent reader already). She still visits this section on every visit, and by now she read every single Greek myth book plus many myth books from other cultures. This is a girl who would have a hard time telling Sleeping Beauty apart from Snow White, but Greek Gods and heroes are household names to her. I find her depth of knowledge surprising. She can tell you what happened to Orion or who the manticore is and how Odysseus traveled home. And, of course, she is a specialist on all things Percy Jackson.

Who Is Percy Jackson?

The Lightning Thief
If you only know Percy Jackson from the ill-begotten movie The Lightning Thief, you are missing something special. Rick Riordan’s series Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus (this one is still in progress) is a great read for adults and children alike. Both my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the series, and our myth lover can’t get enough of them rereading her favorite parts over and over again. Here are a few things that I really like about these series:
  • Strong female characters – girl heroes in this book can fight and think just as well as their male friends and in many cases save the day.
  • Modernizing Greek Gods and heroes and making them more accessible for our children. It’s exciting to imagine Gods and heroes living and acting in our own time vs. long time ago.
  • Diversity of characters – there was less of that in the first series, but the second series introduced a new set of heroes with mixed racial heritage.
  • Consistency of the fantasy universe where the action takes place – once you are there, you don’t need to constantly struggle to believe in it.
  • Humor – even though some of it is more suited for adults (for example, heroes visit Amazon Seattle headquarters that is run by… well, you can guess)
  • Geography knowledge is introduced through heroes going on quests to various parts of North America and Europe. A lot of action is happening in our Northern California backyard!
  • Tactful treatment of adult themes – yes, there is romance in these stories, especially in the second set. We debated for a little bit whether the second set is suitable for our then 6 year old. However, romance moments go “whoosh” right over her head, and will be certainly more interesting for children over 10.

Making a Percy Jackson Quiz

Making a Quiz
There are many great ways to use Rick Riordan’s books to extend your children’s knowledge. Smarty loves quizzes and doesn’t like writing, and I suggested to make her own quiz on the first book. Unfortunately, when we discussed quizzes, I made a wrong suggestion about the questions that she might want to put on a quiz. I proposed a question with several likely spellings of the same name. She liked it and, as a result, 9 out of her 10 questions were all of the same kind, What is the right spelling of X’s name? To explain to her how quizzes are made, I sat down and wrote my own 10 questions for the first half of The Lightning Thief. My quiz is hard and designed for hard core Percy Jackson lovers like my daughter. It looks like our network “ate” it, but once I find it I’ll link it to this post.
My daughter was also on a Rainbow Loom kick during Christmas break, and I asked her to make me a Percy Jackson bracelet. Camp Half-Blood campers are wearing orange, and Camp Jupiter kids are wearing purple, so our matching Percy Jackson bracelets are orange and purple. It’s our “secret Percy Jackson” club.

More Resources for Percy Jackson Books

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A Giveaway

Poppins Book Nook Giveaway! Every month the Poppins Book Nook group will be offering readers a chance to win a brand new storybook that ties in with our theme for the month. This month one lucky winner will win a copy of D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths!  The winner must reside within the United States. Just enter the Rafflecopter below to win:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Ashley said...

How cute that you have matching bracelets! It is always interesting to see what kids will choose to be interested in!

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

My oldest loves the second series as much as he enjoyed the first. He thought the Amazon joke was very funny, too. He's the only one of the children that ever had an interest in Greek or Roman mythology - started when he was very young, like Smarty. I haven't read either series...but when I was in high school I liked Douglas Adams' Dirk Gently books for their similiar treatment of Norse mythology (not for younger children, though- if I remember right).

Kara Carrero said...

Awesome giveaway! I definitely need to look in Percy Jackson more. I loved teaching mythology to my high school kids when I was teaching.

Ticia said...

You know I'm a big Percy Jackson fan, we're waiting until junior high for the kids to read the books though because there's a lot more shades of gray in the Percy Jackson books than in Harry Potter (I don't think my kids would react well to Luke's betrayal).

Joyful Learner said...

Please post the quiz when you get to it! K would love to take it. She knows much more Greek mythology than I do.

maryanne @ mama smiles said...

We haven't read any of the Percy Jackson books yet, but they sound worth reading. Do they need to be read in order to make sense?

Dayna Abraham said...

Wow wow and more wow! Legoman loves Greek mythology! We have read Percy Jackson (the first two in the series and then hit distracted by Harry potter). I agree with everything you have says about this series! It's wonderful! I will try to find my list of graphic novels he lived too!

Deceptively Educational said...

My son doesn't like writing either. I never thought of having him write his own quiz. I think he'd love that!! Thanks (as always) for sharing your great ideas and activities!

Anonymous said...

This is a great tie-in for the Percy Jackson series. I like the presentation and how it applies to the young and the old all at the same time.

Carrie said...

We will have to check those out. Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!