The Odyssey for Kids

I’m hoping to find a way for my 12-year-old daughter and I to read *The Odyssey * together before summer’s over.

What we’re interested in doing is a film/lit project. After seeing O Brother, Where Art Thou? about 1,000,000,000 times, she wants to check out The Odyssey to see where the parallels are. She knows some of the plot from watching a lot of PBS during her younger years, and has already drawn some parallels between the two works. She’s obviously interested and I want to encourage it.

I’ve only read snippets of I]The Odyssey *, but it seems like the writing and length might be a tad daunting for a two-week project. I’m looking for a youth edition of the work that retains the main plot elements and spirit while making for easier reading than “adult” translations. Is there such a thing? If so, where can we get it?

Thanks for your help!

I used to have exactly what you’re looking for (I even read it at the very same age). Unfortunately, though, I haven’t seen it in years, so I can’t give you the information needed to find it on Amazon or anything. All I know is that it was somewhat old; probably published in the 60’s/70’s. I believe it also condensed most of the “boring parts,” focusing mostly on the exciting parts of his adventures.

I’ll give my basement another look, but don’t hold your breath… Sorry I can’t help you more. :frowning:

This is in no way intended to replace reading the work, but I highly recommend the audio version with Ian McKellan reading the Robert Fagles translation. If you do a tape a day (approx. 45 minutes per side), you and your daughter can get through it in two to three weeks. The translation is excellent and McKellan is fabulous.

I also saw a stage adaptation at the McCarter Theater in Princeton, NJ, about four years ago that was one of the best plays I’ve ever seen (and I’ve been going to Broadway plays since I was about twelve). Imagine the sirens as a group of women who embody the typical male sexual fantasies–school girl, nurse, nun, business woman, streetwalker, etc. It was hilarious.

I read the big grown ups’ version when I was 9 or 10. Not in the original Greek, though. It shouldn’t be too hard for a 12yo.

I remember reading “The Wanderings of Odysseus” as a kid, and it was pretty fantastic. The illustrations are great.

The Odyssey
Ultra-Condensed by Samuel Stoddard and David J. Parker
*I rule. *

*For your sin of pride, I curse you for all eternity. *

(Unfazed, Odysseus boards his ship and sets SAIL for Greece, where his family is awaiting his RETURN from Troy. A STORM happens, and it drives them off course into the MEDITERRANEAN, where they come upon a strange LAND owned by the giant Cyclops POLYPHEMUS who eats some of the men ALL UP, but then they ESCAPE. Still lost, they run into the island of the sorceress CIRCE who turns some of Odysseus’ men into ANIMALS, and it takes YEARS before they escape, and then they sail by some singing SIRENS, but they can’t hear because they have STUFF in their ears. Then they come upon an island where there is a field of HERBS, and they all get HIGH, until Odysseus says it’s time to GO. Then Odysseus’ men let a WIND out of a BAG, and some more men DIE. And they sail on to HADES to talk to some DEAD people, and some more men DIE. And they steer the ship between the six headed monster SCYLLA and the torrential whirlpool CHARYBDIS, and Scylla makes some more men DIE, and Charybdis makes the rest of them DIE. Then the ship busts up into a JILLION pieces, but Odysseus is SAVED by the nymph Calypso who confines him to her ISLAND because she thinks he’s HOT, and she wants his BODY. Then years later she lets him GO, but Poseidon is determined to terrorize him FURTHER. And then SUDDENLY Odysseus has an IDEA.)

Poseidon, I am sorry.

*Ok, you can go home now. *

(Odysseus goes home.)


Go to the public library, and check out the Greek Mythology section. I bet they will have several different retellings of the Odyssey, by age and comprehension level, etc. It might be part of a bigger book of “Greek Myths” rather than just the Odyssey, of course, but so what?

PS - For all the commentary, there aren’t THAT many parallels between O BROTHER and the Odyssey, IMHO. Yeah, he’s wandering and meets a cyclops and a Circe, but that’s about it.

Not what IMDB claims


The SparkNotes Study Guide is always helpful.

By far, the best childrens version of The Odyssey that I’ve read (and I’ve read a good number of them) is *The Adventures of Ulysses* by Bernard Evslin. A fairly slim book, but it manages to capture the spirit and essence of the original extremely well. I still reread it and The Odyssey periodically, some 20+ years after I first discovered them.