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Monday, November 26, 2012

Christmas Gifts for Families: Oliver Twist Radio Theater

Looking for a creative Christmas gift for a family?  In the tradition of Radio Theater, Focus on the Family has produced a full-cast audio dramatization of Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist.   I was delighted to have been provided a complimentary copy by the publisher, in exchange for my honest review. 

Oliver Twist, also known as The Parish Boys’ Progress,  is the powerful story of a young orphan who escapes a miserable existence to flee to London, where events unfold that impact the lives of many that the young boy comes into contact with.  The story deals with weighty themes including  confession, redemption, compassion, and corruption.  It addresses the social ills of Oliver’s day, which are not so different from our own.

We sat down as a family over the course of several nights to listen to this production, while we completed our ornaments for a Jesse Tree swap.  Each of us enjoyed it immensely.  This is not just a book on tape.  It is a theater quality production in an auditory format.  This production of Oliver Twist (Radio Theatre) features a full cast, cinema sound, and an original music score that create the feeling that you are in the middle of the story experiencing it as it unfolds.  We particularly enjoyed that we were able to complete our project while sharing entertainment as a family.  Television steals visual attention; auditory theater leaves it free.

By Michal Osmenda (Flickr: It's Christmas time
 [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
There are some weighty issues addressed in this story including drunkenness, abuse, and crime.  It may be best suited to children over the age of twelve or so, according each child’s level of maturity and readiness.  Homeschoolers may find this production of Oliver Twist to be an invaluable part of their curriculum.  As a speech pathologist, my thought is that it would benefit young people in this era, who are so immersed in visual media, to develop their skills for auditory comprehension via material such as this.

We spent several nights listening to the entire story as we completed our project.  I do think, though, that it would best enjoyed more gradually, in single installments, as presented on the five disks.  This would be lovely activity, enjoyed  on a nightly basis as a family, after the younger ones go off to bed.

Focus on the Family Radio Theater's Oliver Twist (Radio Theatre) was indeed a delight.  I will, now, forever associate it with Advent preparations.  I am grateful to have had the opportunity to review Oliver Twist for Tyndale House, and think that it would make a delightful family Christmas gift.

Educational Resources for your Convenience:

PBS has a variety of resources including a map of Oliver’s London, a “Who’s Who”, and teacher resources:

A character card game which can be adapted for use by families:

Some additional Radio Theater selections from Focus on the Family:

1 comment:

  1. I loved this as well. I was unfamiliar with the story of "Oliver Twist" so it was a very pleasant surprise for me. It was great to listen to as well, like watching a movie almost!


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