Reading The Hobbit to a Nine-Year-Old is Golden

My beat up copy of The Hobbit
My beat up copy of The Hobbit

Round about the time that the new “The Hobbit” movie came out, I dusted off my old copy of the book and started reading it to my nine-year-old son Porter before he goes to bed each night. Jen reminded me that I probably bought this paperback back when the Lord of the Rings movies started coming out. Now I recall buying it along with the three Lord of the Rings books.

As you can see, my copy of The Hobbit is pretty dogeared. The only thing I may like better than a beat up old book (that I myself beat up) is a fountain pen. I should maybe get some Scotch tape and fix up the cover before it gets too late.

So my first observation about The Hobbit is that it is an absolutely delightful story to read. That delight only grows when I read it out loud. J.R.R. Tolkien was a master storyteller. He refers to orcs and wargs and wood-elves and wizards and dragons as easily as if he were talking about who he ran into in a little pub in Cambridge the other evening. Nothing odd or unusual about invisibility rings or talking giant eagles and spiders–nothing odd at all.

As I read, it takes me back more than twenty years to when I last The Hobbit. It was the late spring of 1990, just before I got married. I was a sophomore at Brigham Young University and had just finished up a grueling semester that included the world’s most difficult chemistry class for those who were not scientifically inclined (like me). As a mental reward, I went down to the sci-fi section of the BYU Bookstore and bought a copy of The Hobbit. I read it in just a couple of days.

photo(1)What has surprised me somewhat is how little of the story I actually remember. I have only shadowy recollections of Beorn the bear-man, the battle with the giant spiders and the escape from the wood-elves. Even reading the story of Bilbo getting lost in the orc tunnels and meeting up with Gollum this time around was almost like reading it for the first time. Perhaps all that legal training has helped me retain my dwarf-and-hobbit tales more clearly these days.

Porter loves to read with me. I’m not sure how much of it he understands. He often asks questions about who’s talking and what happened to Thorin and does anyone else know about the ring. The important questions.

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