After being completely obsessed with Jim Dale’s narration of the Harry Potter audiobooks, I sought a new read that he also narrated. Luckily, I quickly found a match on my to-read list in the form of Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie.
I’ve had a small fascination with Peter Pan for a while, likely connected to the fact that some writers have deemed my generation the “Peter Pan generation” because of our desire to be children for a lengthier period of time than our predecessors. However, instead of attempting to stay a child forever, I dove-tailed a teensy bit and decided to immerse myself into the world of children’s culture and media as my occupation. Subsequently, I’ve been trying to read some of the children’s literature classics that I haven’t read yet and dive back into those I really want to re-read.
While I was in high school, I had tried to read Peter Pan in physical book form and couldn’t get into it at all because I felt like it was too childishly written and I wasn’t in a mental space to appreciate that. To me, it felt like a story that needed to be told to me, which makes sense since the story was originally written as a play and thus felt like it needed to be performed in some way for me to appreciate it. Later that year, I saw Peter Pan performed in San Francisco the summer before I left for college… and let’s just say, I felt quite a few emotions.
That said, there are parts of the text that are definitely dated which makes it hard for me to recommend this book as a read for children who aren’t aware enough to understand the historical and social climate that existed when this text was first published. When most American individuals read novels like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, they are likely reading it as part of a middle or high school curriculum with English teachers who explain the historical and social context that existed when the novel was written. When most people encounter the story of Peter Pan in whatever format they consume, they are too young to understand some of the dated language (every time the phrase “red skins” was used I cringed). Thus for those younger audiences (2-12 year olds), I think they should encounter a newer version rather than the original text that has adjusted some of the language and removed some of the racial undertones that seep into the story. Unfortunately, I haven’t read such a version so I’m not able to recommend a specific publication. Because of this, I think the best time to listen to this book is when you’re a young adult, perhaps reflecting on your own experience with childhood, but are also aware enough to recognize some of the faults that exist within the original text.
If you choose to read Peter Pan, I definitely recommend reading the story in audiobook format, specifically the Jim Dale version if possible, over a physical copy.
On that note: if you have any recommendations for other literary works performed by Jim Dale, please send them my way!
Author: J. M. Barrie wiki
Narrator: Jim Dale web