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Friday, August 10, 2012

10 Reasons the Hardy Boys' Top Contemporary Kiddie LIt

I started reading the Hardy Boys when I was 7.  I read all the old books that I inherited from parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and since there are a lot of readers on my dad's side of the family, that was a lot of books.  I loved the old stories and have been eagerly awaiting the day that my own kids grew into them.

Finally last week we began to read the Hardy Boys books ('50s editions) after two years of reading about, ahem, Loonie T, and I'm in love all over again.  I remember the stories, the recipes, the villains and the mysteries; but most of all, I remember why the Hardy Boys - and Nancy Drew by extension - are so much better than many contemporary kiddie chapter books.

Here are my Top Ten Reasons to set aside contemporary kiddie lit and pick up the Hardy Boys:

  1. The Hardy Boys know how to speak English properly.  The author doesn't start sentences with conjunctions or use improper tense.  You won't pick up bad grammatical habits from this series.
  2. The author varies the sentence structure.  Franklin W. Dixon knew how to use more than two types of sentences, and it shows in the excitement and flow of his writing.
  3. As I used to tell my first-grade students, 'said' is a dead word - and not just to me.  You won't find it more than once per page in a Hardy Boys' book.  Dixon knows his synonyms and picks really vibrant ones.
  4. The Hardy Boys are kind and compassionate to those around them.  Instead of showcasing their selfish natures, Dixon capitalizes on the positive and the ways that his characters can help those around them - and not just by solving the mystery.  Frank and Joe voluntarily help out business owners and take food to neighbors in need.
  5. The Hardys' attend church on Sunday and honor the Sabbath.  It's rare to see and even more so to read about.  I love the great example set by these characters.
  6. Frank and Joe honor their parents.  Rather than talking back, being rude when upset, or sneaking around, they ask permission for things - even at 18! - run errands for their mother, and help their father.  Again, uncommon actions in this day and age of super-busy schedules and techno-craziness, at least from where I'm sitting.  
  7. Dixon pens a clean read.  Yes, there are villains and they do bad things, but they are neither glorified nor gory.  Somehow Dixon manages to write stories that are suspenseful but not scary.  Wrongdoing is put into the proper perspective.
  8. The entire family can enjoy these stories.  Because of the clean yet action-filled plot, nearly everyone will pick up something.  Although my kids are hearing lots of new words in The Tower Treasure, they love to read snuggled up with me - and they're learning to ask about things that they don't understand.
  9. The Hardy Boys' books can spark some great conversations.  As we've read our way through this first book and tried Welsh Rabbit for the very first time, we've talked about a wide variety of things, from word meanings to food traditions and career options.  
  10. What do you think?  What characteristic of the Hardy Boys' books would you put here?

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