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At my childhood home we had many books from the 1860's through 1880s. they had belonged to my grandmother, and her sisters, and her mother, when they were kids. I often used to read them. They mostly seemed to feature kids doing naughty things-- going skating when forbidden to do so, or being careless around fire, or refusing to eat what was put before them, and dying as a result. Sometimes a large brave dog rushed in to save them at the last moment, and the dog died instead. That was worse.

There was also a copy of the American Boys Handibook. It told you how to make a snow fort, and how to kill an owl and stuff it with arsenic to preserve it. Also how to make really great kites and rowboats, and sailor knots, and paper bags full of fire that would rise into the night sky. (My mom and brother did that last.)

There was a Girls Handibook too. It ran mostly to sewing, and dolls. It did have a good section on making theatrical shows at home, and how to do really great shadow puppets. And it  did have a section on tobogganing which was nice. (But the boys book showed how to build the toboggan, starting with a big tree and an axe!)

I assumed, as a kid that most families had both books. Probably true. I liked reading both. I was no good at sewing, and never stuffed a dead owl.

Anyway, this book is just a little earlier. I think it is rather sweet. it is supposed to be what we would now call an 'early reader..'

http://publicdomainreview.org/2013/08/01/nursery-lessons-in-words-of-one-syllable-1838/

Comments

( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
wemyss
Aug. 7th, 2013 05:17 pm (UTC)
Hmm.
That's not a horse, that's a small pony. Or a giant child.
eglantine_br
Aug. 7th, 2013 11:14 pm (UTC)
Re: Hmm.
Yes-- there is something wrong with the proportions there. I find a pony less disturbing than a giant child.
steepholm
Aug. 7th, 2013 06:08 pm (UTC)
That is indeed sweet. I can't help but notice that not all the words were of one syllable, though.
eglantine_br
Aug. 7th, 2013 11:17 pm (UTC)
True. I once tried to write a story using words of only two syllables. It was for some really stupid contest. Really almost impossible.

Using only short words is easier.
ba1126
Aug. 7th, 2013 06:08 pm (UTC)
That was pretty cool! We had few books when I was a kid. Most of the books we had were my Dad's 'mysteries' and I read those! The few 'kid's books' were pretty dull. Instead, we spent lots of time with library books!! The favorite I remember was a book about "The Little Lighthouse".
ba1126
Aug. 7th, 2013 06:16 pm (UTC)
"The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge"
eglantine_br
Aug. 7th, 2013 11:21 pm (UTC)
Oh, I did libraries as a kid too. And indeed, until a year or two ago. Now I have Kindle, so that is better than going to the library and finding they don't have what I want.

Our library here in Brooklyn did not have-- in the entire library system, a copy of Moby Dick! Shameful. Especially when you consider all the great writers-- many of whom used the library system-- that came out of Brooklyn.

Not just classics either-- the libraries here have been gutted. Taxes can only go so high. In a choice between ambulances and libraries, even I would say go for ambulances. But dear God-- we should be able to have both!

maggie_conagher
Aug. 8th, 2013 06:29 am (UTC)
omg, my mom had old bks that were something similar. So punitive and I would cry and cry so that she finally stopped reading them to me. I still remember two of them vividly.

In one the little girl didn't put away her toys so she had a brand new baby buggy and a china doll and when Father came home, he didn't see them in the drive way and ran over them, shattering the poor dollie's head into a million pieces.

Then in another one, a little girl didn't come when called and so her favorite aunt came to visit and took her siblings to the circus but she didn't come out of hiding when called so she missed it.

I think there was another one where the girl was supposed to make supper for Mother and she wanted something quick so she made rice and beans and it boiled over and took hours for her to clean the stove but if she had made a proper meal(whatever that was), she would not have had to clean the stove.

My mom's voice would get very hard and punishing, and she really enjoyed the grim retribution to these children. She had such satisfaction at the payoff, lol.

I don't think anybody died in ours though. We didn't get through them all because I started having nightmares. Maybe the dead children came later.
eglantine_br
Aug. 8th, 2013 01:36 pm (UTC)
There was one I remember about a little kid in a high chair. (So, little enough to be in a high chair!) he stood up in it, and they told him it was naughty to stand like that. But he did it again anyhow, and fell over backwards and died!

There was also one about a dog who rescued a baby from a fire, but the mother of the baby was hysterical and would not stop crying, so the dog ran back into the burning building and died!

Kids books. Funny, you know, the kids books from the 18th century seem kinder.
anteros_lmc
Aug. 8th, 2013 10:50 pm (UTC)
You know the Struwwelpeter stories? A theatre company here did a brilliantly twisted stage version of the stories called Shockheaded Peter. You can see some clips of it here. One of my mates was in the original cast but they're so heavily made up I have no idea if he's in this clips!
serge_lj
Aug. 8th, 2013 09:05 pm (UTC)
"...At my childhood home we had many books..."

At *my* childhood, the only books were those I bought.
Amazing that I became such a voracious reader.
anteros_lmc
Aug. 8th, 2013 10:41 pm (UTC)
I remember you mentioning the arsenic stuffed owl before. How could I forget? When I worked as an archaeologist I had a test tube full of arsenic in a drawer in my lab (long story). I never knew what to do with it, and nor did the university's chemical disposal unit, the told me just to leave it there. If only we'd known about the owl thing. What a missed opportunity :}

That book looks fascinating. I wonder what toots would make of it if I read it to her? I suspect there might be eye rolling.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )