14 Dec 2012
I thought you might like to take a look at our latest family read-aloud. It's a beautiful book, and it seems a shame to keep it to ourselves. It's this lovely old Ward Lock edition of Tales from the Arabian Nights, without a printing date, and without an author, although we do know that the illustrator is one A E Jackson, and since Mr Jackson was actively illustrating between 1910 and 1920, we can hazard a guess that my book dates from this period as well.
These are the beautifully illustrated endpapers. I guess the Genii has just been released!!
I chose to read this book to Jemimah (and her Daddy) because I discovered in general discussion recently that she didn't know the real story of Sinbad the Sailor. She was familiar with Aladdin, because Andrew Lang's marvellous version of that story was included in a lovely book of read alouds that we read over and over in her preschool years, but alas, Sinbad and Ali Baba were known to her only via the Disney Corporation. She did know a bit about Ali Baba - there were forty thieves, the password was Open Sesame; she didn't even know that Sinbad was a Sailor!
Nowadays the tales are not read much in original unedited versions, probably because of their length and convoluted storyline - there are stories within stories within stories. It's a shame, because the tales have entered into our speech and our imagination. Today's kids are missing out on terrific stories filled with exotic climes, thrilling action and adventure, dramatic plots and weird, enthralling magic. Scheherazade managed to keep herself alive for 1001 nights by stopping mid way through these tales and keeping the angry Shahryar in suspense. Surely we can do the same with our kids!!
Interestingly, it is believed that these three best know stories, those of Sinbad, Ali Baba and Aladdin are thought not to have been part of the original tales, but to have been included by a Frenchman, Antoine Galland, who translated the tales in 1704 from a manuscript sent to him from the Middle East. Have a read of the Wikipedia entry for 1001 Nights. It's fascinating.
Jemimah loved the story of Aladdin when she was in kindergarten. She's enjoying them just as much now, and so is her Dad. These books are ageless, really, just be sure to read them sometime.
What is your family read aloud right now?