"His friends were very fond of him..."
I had a lovely experience today with a girl in my Year 8 class. She had done all her work and had chosen a book to read from the shelf. I was on the other side of the room when I heard "There was a boy whose name was Jim". I supplied the rest of the line. We then took it in turns to read the whole poem, with her supplying dramatic emphasis, and me reading the bits where the archaic language got a bit confuddling. She then said "Miss, listen to me read some more!" What a wonderful thing to hear.
The version of Jim by Mini Grey is an absolutely fantastic book to read, whatever age you are. If I was the Queen of the World and had a magic wand, one of the many, many things I would do would be to stop people from seeing books as being for specific ages. I enjoy reading Jim; an 8 year old might enjoy it, and I certainly saw a 12 year old enjoy it today. The irony is, it's not even easy to read! Hilaire Belloc did write for children, but the writing is not simple. It's simply more fun to read if you're used to seeing books as inaccessible, and suddenly you are confronted with something that, although it might be hard, has pictures of delicious ham, pop ups and a fold-out section of a boy being eaten by a lion...
It's SO much easier to enjoy reading when you have an enjoyable book in your hands.