Like the Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit is a children’s classic, and perhaps even better known. With the release of the extremely successful “The Lord of the Rings” movies, we come to the book that started it all.
Tolkien is considered the father of modern fantasy literature, and it’s this world of Middle-Earth that started it all. A close friend of C. S. Lewis, Tolkien was part of the informal literary discussion group known as the Inklings. I can’t even begin to imagine all the creative discussions that took place there.
Also worth noting is that there’s a dramatized, audio version of this story produced by the BBC. Other than the terrible voice of Gandalf, I quite enjoyed it.
One seemingly peaceful day, a wizard named Gandalf shows up at the home of a plump, middle-aged, well-to-do Hobbit named Bilbo Baggins. Without really obtaining consent from the Hobbit, the wizard tricks him into throwing a party for a band of dwarves.
As the group’s chosen burglar, Bilbo reluctantly goes with them in search of a vast dwarf treasure, which had been stolen by a dragon named Smaug; who lives in the Lonely Mountain. Encountering trolls, giant spiders, goblins, wolves, elves, and–among other things–a mysterious creature inhabiting an underground lake, the team eventually makes it to the mountain.
With the help of the men at Lake-town (just below the mountain,) Smaug is finally defeated, but this is when the real problems arise. Everyone seems to want a piece of the treasure and the dwarves are not willing to give it up. Using his new found burglar status, Bilbo finds himself doing what he can to try and stop a war.
This is another one of those books that was read aloud to me as a kid. To this day I can still picture my initial mental images of Gollum. There is no doubt that this is a classic, and a must read for all.
Things to consider:
Unlike “The Lord of the Rings,” “The Hobbit” was aimed towards kids. It contains a lighter atmosphere and isn’t nearly as dark as the rest of the series. There are still some elements which may be disturbing to some children–and the wording may be a little difficult to read here and there–but overall it’s fairly kid friendly and good for both girls and boys.
Opportunities for discussion:
Overcoming greed is one of the main points of discussion here. Talk to your kids about temptation and that giving into it often leads to terrible consequences. Whether an obsession over food, TV, video games, cloths, music, or any number of things that bombard our children today. As we learn in this story, obsession over treasure went far enough to cause a war. We also learn that a simple and selfless act can produce great change. Ask your kids if there is anything in their life that they can honestly consider an area of greed, and then have them do a small act of selflessness to counteract it. Challenge them to leave their comfort zone and explore deeper parts of their lives.