I always thought that we would “tackle” Ibong Adarna and Florante at Laura in the high school years. Such a strong word – tackle – for something as beautiful as reading those two literary works. If you also didn’t have a good experience of reading them in your school days, I’m sure that’s the word you would be compelled to use too!
Using living books for my children’s education has given me a push and a bit of boldness to introduce those classics earlier. These Filipino books may be a bit harder, but as Charlotte Mason said in the second volume of her education series:
We read him books like Tanglewood Tales, and, when he’s older, Plutarch’s Lives, not trying to break them up or water them down, but leaving the child’s mind to deal with the material in its own way as best it can.
The goal is to enjoy literature, to be familiar with it, and trust the child to get what he can out of the material in his own way. It is not to analyze each word, sentence, or turn of phrase.
That takes off the burden of “getting it right” — and what a relief that is!
The original Ibong Adarna
One of our joys at The Learning Basket is tracking down beautiful books and sharing our finds with our readers. After watching Ballet Manila’s spectacular production of Ibong Adarna, Sanne searched for an original edition and found one with minimal editing. It’s now available at our shop. (Click here to order.)
This edition just updated the spelling of some of the archaic words. It also features a glossary right on the page where it is used for easier reference.
How we’re learning
Starting to read Ibong Adarna can be intimidating, especially given the analysis experience that I have of it. So I just jumped in with the following ideas on how I would go about it with my 6-year-old boy and 9-year-old girl.
These are mostly the things that we do in our Charlotte Mason homeschool lessons that I’m applying to our study of Ibong Adarna. Please note that I am just beginning to scratch the surface of Charlotte Mason’s teachings and these are based on my current level of understanding!
One page at a time
To go through the book slowly and to adhere to Mason’s short lessons, I decided to just read one page at a time. Each page has eight verses of archaic Filipino. One page at a time is just right for us.
Having words such as tuturan, ibabadya, and salang requires that I take a peek at the vocabulary list on each page before I even read to my children. I read each word and explain it to them and give usage examples before I start reading. In case they forget while in the middle of my reading, I just explain again.
Since my children have a bit of resistance to hearing difficult Tagalog words, a dramatic reading helps them engage better… if they’re not laughing outright at their mom’s silliness!
Oral narration is a must in a Charlotte Mason education in the early years. Since the depth of the words in the epic makes it seem like a foreign language, I ask my children to narrate right after each verse.
One of the fun things that we do with our more difficult books is to draw scenes or characters based on what we have just read. Both of my children love this. Not only do I see what they’re picking up, their booklets also make beautiful keepsakes and parts of their portfolio.
My children, at the end of a term, on their own volition, acted out several poems that they’ve memorized. For Ibong Adarna, I would probably ask them to act out (if they don’t beat me to it!) the exciting parts when we get there, such as the princes turning into stone and the capture of the Ibong Adarna.
I plan to pick some verses for memory work. How I’ll pick which ones, I still don’t know! I still have to do a bit of research or more advance reading!
My son enjoys the copywork that he’s working on now – a passage from A Midsummer Night’s Dream that we have memorized. I plan to make some verses from Ibong Adarna that we have already read into copywork using Worksheet Works.
Should we be reading Ibong Adarna in the early years? Let me leave you with some words of wisdom from Charlotte Mason herself…
To introduce children to literature is to install them in a very rich and glorious kingdom, to bring a continual holiday to their doors, to lay before them a feast exquisitely served. But they must learn to know literature by being familiar with it from the very first. A child’s intercourse must always be with good books, the best that we can find.