Surfing the Net with kids: Charles Dickens

By Barbara Feldman
February 5, 2010

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English novelist Charles John Huffam Dickens (1812-1870) not only achieved fame in his lifetime, but continues to be popular to this day. He is known for his iconic characters, such as Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, and for his portrayal of Victorian London, as if the city was another character in his stories.

BBC: Charles Dickens Animation

Yes, you read that correctly. BBC presents a delightful animated introduction to Charles Dickens’s life. In addition to the video, there is a multimedia version, called Scene Selector, an annotated slide show with hot spots for the discovery of additional material about Dickens’s life and work. For more fun, follow the Play the Game link to Survive Dickens’s London. “Dodge through Victorian London, avoiding the gangs and villains and trials and tribulations of Dickensian London in order to seek out Charles Dickens in his chalet hideaway in Rochester.’’

David Perdue’s Charles Dickens Page

David Perdue’s fan page is dedicated to enhancing “the reader’s experience, providing background on Dickens, his work, and the times in which he lived.’’ He’s successful on all counts. Visit for Dickens Fast Facts, summaries of each of his novels, a cross-linked list of 400 characters created by Dickens, a look at Dickens’s London, a timeline, and a glossary that defines terms from Victorian English that you probably don’t know. “Blacking - shoe or boot polish. As a child Dickens was employed at Warren’s Blacking factory.’’

Victorian Web: Charles Dickens

The Victorian Web is a compilation of literature resources from Brown University. The Dickens section contains several hyperlinked biographies as well as critical reviews of biographies written in the 19th and 20th centuries. The links allow visitors to dive deeper into the material, to learn, for example, about the role that child labor played in the Industrial Revolution. Literature students will appreciate the sections on themes, genre, characterization, imagery, and the political and social history of Dickens’s times.

New York Public Library: Charles Dickens

“Dickens’s childhood was a sorry mixture of the fondly remembered and the wholly detested.’’ Librarian Kenneth Benson of the New York Public Library brings us an online Dickens seminar, divided into six sessions. Starting with The Young Dickens, you can follow the illustrated online class by clicking on the session links at the bottom or top of each page. For teachers, there is a lesson plan with learning objectives listed in the left-hand navigation menu.