One of the many great things about homeschooling a whole bunch of kids is that you never have to worry about if what you buy is actually going to get used. If it doesn’t get used by the person it’s intended for, it will undoubtedly get used by one of them! With seven children, we have lots of opportunities for things to get used.
I’m still running around like mad trying to make some headway through purging all my “stuff.” We’ve started the search for a new-to-us house to live in, and I know there’s no way my husband is going to lug all my “stuff” from this house into the next. And, really, we could live without a lot of it.
One of the things I came across while trying to purge was a box of Landmark history books I had bought on Ebay years ago. I was in route to take it out to the storage cabin when I realized Andres just might be interested in them. Landmark history books were originally published by Random House mostly in the 1950s and cover a wide variety of historical topics, mostly biographies. To see the complete list of books in the Landmark series, visit http://sevenpillarsbooknook.blogspot.com/2009/12/series-landmark-random-house.html. Some of the well-known authors in this series are:
- Ralph Moody (Little Britches series)
- Jim Kjelgaard (Big Red)
- Armstrong Sperry (Call It Courage)
- James Daugherty (Magna Charta)
- Sterling North (Rascal)
- C. S. Forester (Hornblower series)
As I recall, Trinity was less than enthusiastic about reading these books, but now she swears she read them all.
As I thumbed through them after all these years, I was impressed once again by the clarity and quality of the writing. The vocabulary and word size is perfect for upper elementary students. Andres, in third grade, can read these easily; granted, he is an advanced reader. The jacket cover of Wild Bill Hickok Tames the West by Stewart H. Holbrook (how’s that for a catchy title?) explains, “Most boys and girls in Grade 6 can read this book themselves. Those in Grades 5 to 12 will find it interesting.”
And it’s not just the Landmark series that captures history so well. There are several other series published around that time that are of equal quality. I found several mixed in with our Landmarks.
Andres’ first choice was Chief Black Hawk by Frank L. Beals. It was originally published in 1943 by Harper and Row in the American Adventure Series. Andres read the 250 pages in two days, without any prodding, and then he was back digging in the book box looking for the next one.
I just checked over on Ebay and they are selling used Landmark books in sets for about $2 a piece. Some of the titles have been republished and are available new.
Whether your children are homeschooled, public schooled, unschooled or private schooled, invest in these books, especially for your boys who need an alternative to the dark side of modern literature. These are the kinds of books that show up at book sales, thrift stores and garage sales for cheep, cheep, cheep. They books are full of adventure, seasoned with just the right amount of drama and background, heavy on character and heavy on action. Remember, they were written in the 1950s, before children’s appetites were influenced by modern television and literature, back when truth was valued more than political correctness. These books are all about the stories and the people who lived them out. It’s just icing on the cake that these are history books and not fiction or even historical fiction.
Cheers to good literature and to the children who read it.