My Book House
This beautiful set was edited by Mrs. Olive Kennan Beaupré Miller, who also wrote A Picturesque Tale of Progress and other books.
My Book House was in print from 1920 (6 volumes) through 1971 (12 volumes). The contents of the set did change over the years. Someday I hope to examine sets from different years and make comparisons and contrasts between the various editions. For now, I am describing the 1971 set only. (I have a friend who has compared the 1950's edition with the 1971 edition. One change she found between these later sets is the replacement of "Little Black Sambo" with the retold story, "Rama and the Tigers." "The First Moon Landing" was obviously a 1971 addition as well.)
Each of these volumes is a work of art. On every cover is a color reproduction of a lovely painting. Inside you will find striking pictorial endpapers and interior illustrations by such artists as Mariel Wilhoite, The Hollings, Matilda Breuer, M. S. Hurford, Don Nelson, James Daugherty, Donn P. Crane, Maud and Miska Petersham, Gordon Heath, Garth Williams and others.
I would like to quote briefly from Mrs. Miller so that the reader may know the perspectives from which she built her anthology. Following that, I offer pictures of the volumes and a partial list of contents for each.
Of the literature selections, she wrote--
"In My BOOK HOUSE, I have tried to give children the best in literature, gathered from the greatest authors of the past and present, and from our rich heritage of old folk tales, told from generation to generation in every country in the world. But I have selected those stories with care. Avoiding those tales where evil traits of character, such as lying and cheating to gain one's ends, have been made to appear good, I have chosen only those where truly desirable qualities invite the child's admiration. I have tried also to grade all this material as wisely as possible, that the child might have the right story at the right age, and to put it forth so beautifully illustrated that it would be irresistable to him. Here, in these twelve volumes, adult and child can enter, hand-in-hand, a wonderful realm of imagination and beauty, portrayed in the best literary forms of verse and prose....
"The permanent value of My BOOK HOUSE arises from the fact that at the time of its inception, I had no pet theory of education to advance.... I was in search of fundamentals, simple fundamentals, which must remain eternally true. Chaos then existed and is, unfortunately, still permitted to exist, in the realm of reading for children. They were being given stories, ethically sound, all jumbled up with those where the ethical slant was bad, and stories for the older children were being read to the child when he was too young, overwhelming him with fright and confusion by presenting to him characters and situations far beyond his understanding at the moment. Out of this chaos I was trying to bring order, an order that could never be disturbed. So let me review a few basic principles, with which I emerged from my search and on which I built My BOOK HOUSE.
"First,--To be well equipped for life, to have ideas and the ability to express them, the child needs a broad background of familiarity with the best in literature.
"Second,--His stories and rhymes must be selected with care that he may absorb no distorted view of life and its actual values, but may grow up to be mentally clear about values and emotionally impelled to seek what is truly desirable and worthwhile in human living.
"Third,--The stories and rhymes selected must be graded to the child's understanding at different periods of his growth, graded as to vocabulary, as to subject matter and as to complexity of structure and plot.
"On those three simple fundamentals My BOOK HOUSE was built."
VOLUME ONE, IN THE NURSERY
This volume includes over 400 nursery rhymes, poems, and short stories. Authors include William Shakespeare, Robert Browning, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robert Louis Stevenson, John Keats, Hans Christian Andersen, William Wordsworth, Alfred Tennyson, Carl Sandburg, Alexander Pope, Kate Greenaway, Isaac Watts, Christina Rossetti, James Whitcomb Riley, Robert Burns, Pearl S. Buck, Mary Mapes Dodge, and many others.
Included are about 100 Mother Goose Rhymes plus numerous nursery rhymes from regional and historical America (New England, Creole, Pennsylvania Dutch, Native American, Eskimo, and others), Germany, Czechoslovakia, France, Poland, Africa, Switzerland, Mexico, Finland, Wales, Scotland, Russia, Ireland, Sweden, Spain, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, China, South America, Englad, East Indies, Estonia, and other countries as well!
There are also selections from the King James Version of the Bible.
VOLUME TWO, STORY TIME
Authors include Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Aesop, Aristophanes, Christina Rossetti, John Keats, Sir Walter Scott, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, William Blake, Clement Moore, Walter de la Mare, Hans Christian Andersen, Edward Lear, Mary Mapes Dodge, Hector Berlioz (adaptation from his opera), Eugene Field, Beatrix Potter, Walt Whitman, Heinrich Heine, Leo N. Tolstoy, Robert Burns, and others.
Selections include "The City Mouse and the Country Mouse," "The Gingerbread Man," "The Little Engine that Could," "The Little Red Hen," "Rama and the Tigers," "The Strange Adventures of Baron Munchausen," "The Tale of the Nutcracker," "The Tale of Peter Rabbit," "The Teddy Bears' Picnic," "The Ugly Duckling," "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod," and many others. (There are about 90 selections.)
There are, again, selections from the King James Version of the Bible.
VOLUME THREE, UP
ONE PAIR OF STAIRS
(Cover Painting by Lilian Westcott Hale)
Authors include Charles Kingsley, Geoffrey Chaucer, Aesop, James Whitcomb Riley, Kenneth Grahame, Eugene Field, A. A. Milne, William Wordsworth, Brothers Grimm, Annette Wynne, Lewis Carroll, Alfred Tennyson, Thornton Burgess, Kate Greenaway, Emily Dickenson, Joel Chandler Harris, and Robert Louis Stevenson.
Selections include The Adventures of a Water Baby, The Brownies in the Toy Shop, The Daring Prince, Chanticleer and the Partlet, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Honest Woodman, Little Maid of Far Japan, The Shoemaker and the Elves, The Story of Li'l Hannibal, The Wee Wee Mannie and the Big Big Coo' [Cow], and many others. (There are about 60 selections.)
Once again, there are selections from the King James Version of the Bible.
VOLUME FOUR, THROUGH THE GATE
Authors include Arthur Ransome, George MacDonald, Carolyn Sherwin Bailey, John Greenleaf Whittier, Hugh Lofting, Oscar Wilde, Brothers Grimm, Mary Mapes Dodge, and others.
A Story of The Blacksmith (Johannes Brahms), The Boy Hero of Harlem, The Boy Samuel (retold from the Bible), Cinderella, The Cowboy's Life, The Girl Who Used Her Wits, Hansel and Grethel, How Brer Rabbit Met Brer Tar Baby, Old Johnny Appleseed, Pecos Bill, A Song of the Canadian Lumberjack, The Story of Big Paul Bunyan, and others. (There are about 35 selections.)
[We do not expose our children to many of the fairy tales as entertainment or teach them that witches are characters for fun. In spite of our conservative view in this respect, we have found much to appreciate throughout this fine set.]
VOLUME FIVE, OVER
(Cover Painting by J. Allen St. John)
Authors include Rosemary and Stephen Vincent Benét, E. B. White, Johanna Spyri, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Louisa May Alcott, Rudyard Kipling, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Gudrun Thorne-Thomson, A. A. Milne, and others.
Selections include Abraham Lincoln, All About Columbus, How Robert Fulton Harnessed the Giant, Casey Jones, Charlotte's Web, The First Thanksgiving Day, George Washington and the First American Flag, Give Praise, Hiawatha's Childhood, In Columbus' Time, Jack and the Beanstalk, John Henry, Little Gulliver, The Nuremberg Stove, The Story of Tom Thumb, We Thank Thee, Why the Sea is Salt, Wilbur Wright and Orville Wright, Winnie-the-Pooh, and Others. (There are about 30 selections.)
VOLUME SIX, THROUGH FAIRY HALLS
Authors include John Galsworthy, Joseph Rodman Drake, Alfred Noyes, Sir Walter Scott, James Whitcomb Riley, Alfred Tennyson, William Shakespeare, and others.
Selections include The Fairyland of Science (story of the life of Henri Fabre, naturalist), The Fisherman Who Caught the Sun, Hie Away, Little Pictures from Far Japan, The Lost Spear, A Midsummer Night's Dream, A Musical Visit to Fairyland (A Story of Felix Mendelssohn), and others. (There are about 25 selections.)
VOLUME SEVEN, THE MAGIC GARDEN
Authors include Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Southey, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Hans Christian Andersen, Robert Frost, and others.
Selections include folk tales form Norway, Germany, Roumania, Hungary, Greece, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, New Zealand, Wales, and Yugoslavia.
Titles include Babe Ruth (The Home Run King of Baseball), Casey at the Bat, The Cataract of Lodore, David Copperfield and Little Em'ly, East o' the Sun and West o' the Moon, The Golden Touch, The Six Swans, Vladimir's Adventures in Search of a Fortune, and others. (There are about 35 selections.)
VOLUME EIGHT, FLYING SAILS
Authors include Phineas T. Barnum, Howard Pyle, Jonathan Swift, George Eliot, John Keats, Alfred Tennyson, Alfred Noyes, and others.
Selections include The Adventures of General Tom Thumb (a true story), A Boy on the High Seas, The Greatest Show on Earth, John Paul Jones, Sea Fever, A Song of Drake's Men, The Tempest, A Whaling Adventure, and Young Midshipman David Farragut. (There are about 20 selections.)
VOLUME NINE, THE
(Cover Painting by N. C. Wyeth)
Authors include Rudyard Kipling, James Daugherty, Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Charles Kingsley, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Fred Gipson, William Makepeace Thackeray, Lord Byron, and E. B. White.
Selections include The Adventures of Alexander Selkirk (A True Story of the Real Robinson Crusoe), The Adventures of Perseus, Buffalo Bill, George Rogers Clark and the Conquest of the Northwest, How Peary Reached the North Pole, The Labors of Hercules, Old Yeller, Pushing Westward with Lewis and Clark, and The Trumpet of the Swan. (There are about 20 selections.)
VOLUME TEN, FROM
THE TOWER WINDOW
(Cover painting by M. D. Charleson)
Authors include William Shakespeare, Robert Burns, Robert Browning, Sir Walter Scott, Geoffrey Chaucer, and others.
This volume includes selections from several legends and epics: The Ramayana of India, The Odyssey of Homer, Beowulf, The Kalevala of Finland, The Song of Roland of France, The Cid of Spain, and others.
Other selections include As You Like it, The Children's Crusade, Joan of Arc, Robert Bruce, The Wanderings of Aeneas, and others. (The selections in total are about 25.)
VOLUME ELEVEN, IN SHINING ARMOR
Authors include Alfred Tennyson, Dante Alighieri, Emma Lazarus, Miguel de Cervantes, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, Washington Irving, Woodrow Wilson, and others.
Selections include Dante's Voyage to the Inferno, The Man Who Lived in the World of Dreams (A Story of the Life of Dante), Robert E. Lee--A Hero in War and Peace, Surprising Adventures of Don Quixote, Ye Merry Doinges of Robin Hood, and others. (There are about 15 selections.)
VOLUME TWELVE, HALLS
(Cover Painting by J. Allen St. John)
Authors include Sara Teasdale, Margaret Waldorf, George Crossette, George Vass, and others.
Selections include A Boy in Russia (The Story of Leo N. Tolstoy), Down By the River Avon (The Story of William Shakespeare), The First Moon Landing (includes NASA photographs), The Gentle Genius (The Story of Albert Einstein), The Hoosier Poet (The Story of James Whitcomb Riley), Life in Concord (The Story of Louisa May Alcott), and The Man Who Made Hitler Run (The Story of Jesse Owens), and others. (There are about 15 selections.)
Volume 12 further includes an Index of Authors, Titles, and Leading Characters; a Special Subjects Index; and a Character Building Index. The last index allows parents to look up a character quality such as cheerfulness, contentment, faithfulness, or industry and choosing stories to read the positively reveal that character quality.
I highly recommend this fine set!
Olive Beaupre Miller wrote other books as well.
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