Robinson Crusoe – The Good and the Bad, Even for Kids

The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (Great Illustrated Classics)The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn’t ask why, but my local used bookstore has several “Great Illustrated Classics” editions and I have bought a few. I like classics and I like that these have been abridged and rewritten for younger readers.

Growing up, Swiss Family Robinson, because of the Disney version, was foremost in my mind. It was a telling experience for me at UCLA when I read Defoe’s original. I read his Moll Flanders in college, too, and gained perspective.

Robinson Crusoe is a colonialist and this book helped Europe to justify its tendencies to dominate. I explained some of this to my kids, but I also talked about the industriousness of Crusoe, who can herd goats and grow perennial crops, like grapes, which can be made into storable raisins.

With the good comes the bad.

I talked to them about Friday and subjugation, about how Crusoe started as a plantation owner, meaning he was an owner of slaves. This kid version was primarily the plot, but I added a lot to encourage discussion and perspective.

I do recommend the original and hope my kids read that version when they are older and ready to better understand it.

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