The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

by L. Frank Baum (1899)

A Sweet Spot and Intermediate selection.

Can a classic written over 100 years ago still have something to share with modern readers? Yes, when the classic is L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, especially in this edition with black-and-white versions of W.W. Denslow’s whimsical illustrations. Come along with Dorothy on her journey from Kansas to Oz and back again, and you will see that this tale will delight your students and families, just as it has done for generations.

As most know, Oz is the story of a farm girl, Dorothy, who is swept away by a tornado and dropped into a faraway land. Her house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East, Dorothy gets the witch’s shoes, and she sets off down the Yellow Brick Road to Oz to meet the Wizard and find her way back home. Along the way, she is joined by three noble friends, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion. Some scary monkeys. Click your heels. “There’s no place like home.” It was all a dream.

Well, it turns out that Hollywood took some liberties with Baum’s original tale. Did you know the witch’s enchanted shoes are really silver, not ruby red? Did you know the Queen of the Mice and her field mice save the Lion from the field of poppies? Did you know that the Wicked Witch of the West controls the Winged Monkeys with a Golden Cap? Did you know that Dorothy actually says, “Take me home to Aunt Em”? There is also Dainty China Country and the Country of Quadlings. All of that and so much more await your students in the original novel. (And, there are thirteen sequels waiting for families who want more adventures in Oz.)

But more than just a rollicking adventure story, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz opens up compelling themes for families and classrooms – themes like loyalty, friendship, and what does “home” really mean. The travelers embark on a journey of self-discovery and self-sacrifice. They will find that things aren’t always what they seem, and often what you really need most, you had all along.

This classic tale is still delightful and accessible. Rich characters and endless action ensure that modern readers will be eager to complete the journey with their new friends. The lessons of love, friendship, redemption, and self-worth are ones that every family should share. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz has all these qualities that mark it is a timeless classic.

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