“Art is the only serious thing in the world. And the artist is the only person who is never serious.”
Some of my most favourite reading memories are of me curled up with stories by Oscar Wilde. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. The first story of his that entranced me was The Nightingale and the Rose in an illustrated book of love stories, then came The Importance of Being Ernest, which still makes me laugh out loud every time I read it, and of course The Picture of Dorian Gray, the compulsory read for anyone interested in the fin-de-siècle literature and the Aesthetic Movement. It seems that some of the most intellectual, fun and popular books have been written by Irish authors. Just think of Joyce’s Ulysses, Wilde’s stories, Beckett’s dramas and novels, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels or Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Readers of various ages in various times have found these books entertaining, cool and very different from the mainstream offereings of the time.
Oscar Wilde has always been a literary hero thanks to his elegant and playful use of the English language, his aphorisms and enchanting stories. In the Helbling Readers series he is one of the most popular authors with four readers already in the catalogue, and a fifth one, The Selfish Giant, coming out soon in the Young Readers series.
The Selfish Giant, originally published in The Happy Prince and Other Tales collection of stories for children in 1888, is now adapted for very young learners in English by Maria Cleary and illustrated by Cecilia Tamburini.
The power of this allegorical tale comes scross perfectly in the reader with its simple yet poetic language and the gentle and affective illustrations. The text and the images fully support each other in this reader, and they grasp the essence and atmosphere of this heartwarming tale. Let the tale, the text and the images do their job. These stories do not need further explanation, just the readers: you and your children or students.
In the language classroom you can learn about feelings, nature, the seasons, and adverbs describing actions. The story creates a memorable context for feelings like ‘afraid’, ‘angry’, ‘sad’, and ‘happy’ and activates a wide range of feelings which will help the readers respond to the text. Use the book to approach the story interactively through discussion, movement and activities after the first reading. The little yellow duck will help you engage your students in games.
There are Play Station activities before and after the story which will provide enough material for several hours of reading and learning. Remember to do the Play Station Project to take engage your students on a creative level doing arts and crafts together.
Explore four more Oscar Wilde stories and read them with your teen, young adult and adult learners.
- The Fisherman and his Soul by Oscar Wilde, adapted by Frances Mariani – Level 1/CEF A1 reader
- The Happy Prince and the Nightingale and the Rose by Oscar Wilde, adapted by Maria Cleary – Level 1/CEF A1 reader
- The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde, adapted by Elspeth Rawstron – Level 2/CEF A2 reader
- The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde, adapted by David A. Hill – Level 3/CEF B1 reader
You can also find a special lesson plan dedicated to Oscar Wilde on this Blog. Don’t forget to check out his famous aphorisms.