Eleven plus children sometimes need stretching. We urge them to read a wide range of books. We want our children to be able to absorb an exuberant vocabulary. After all the children will rely on their vocabulary, at times, while they doing some verbal reasoning exercises.
So if we tell the children to read the classics, are we being reactionary? In The Three Musketeers we read language developed in a rather spectacular setting:
‘Whilst they were within the precincts of the camp, the four friends did not exchange a word: they were, besides, followed by the curious, who, having heard of the wager, wished to know how they would extricate themselves from the affair.’
So the story of The Three Musketeers is all about friends fighting with each other, the people are simply sorted by nationality (French or English), where they live, work and fight is important (Gascon or Norman) as is their social class (master or servant.). But when Athos stands on the parapet immune to the bullets we hope the children will identify with him.
We want our children to stand on the parapet, in the Eleven Plus room, immune to questions that may phase them. We want our children to feel that they are heroes and heroines as they tackle adversity. We want our children to feel that they can conquer all that lies before them.
Books that children read today are often full of characters with imperfections and problems. But we hope that as the story grips them and takes them on a journey of exploration they will react positively in a similar manner in the examination. Then our children will show that they have absorbed the `hard’ words and the complex concepts. They may also learn a little about punctuation! Just look with awe at the punctuation in the passage above. We hope that our children will replicate the confident use of commas in the examination.