The Delights of Childcraft, part 2

Yesterday I introduced a set of books that impressed me as a child, and I appreciate them more now as a parent and home educator. Here I describe the contents of the individual volumes so that you may consider adding a few more items to your collection.

Volume 1: Poems of early childhood

Beginning with Mother Goose (of course), the poems gradually become longer and more sophisticated; some pensive, some silly, but with wide appeal to young children. Colorful illustrations by a variety of artists. One drawback is that the children in the pictures are all very Caucasian, but that is not surprising considering the publication date. Robert Louis Stevenson, Christina Rossetti, Eugene Field, and many others are included.

Volume 2: Storytelling and Other Poems

Every day poems, humorous poems, and longer ballads, including Walter de la Mare, Shakespeare, Tennyson, Sandburg, Dickinson, Richards, Belloc, Ralph Waldo Emerson (did you know he wrote children’s poetry?), Noyes, and Longfellow, along with many other lesser known writers whose work is just as fun. Here you will also find Harlem Renaissance Poets such as Paul Laurence Dunbar and Countee Cullen. Again, the attention span expectations are built gradually from the beginning.

Volume 3: Folk and Fairy Tales

Nursery stories, folk and fairy tales, and Aesop’s fables. I particularly love “The Three Wishes,” “Salt,” Master of all Masters,” and “Gone is Gone.” I don’t know why “Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp” is set in China, but oh well. Attentive listeners may notice variations in detail from other versions, which is part of the fun of folk tales.

Volume 4: Animal Friends and Adventures

If your children love animals or vehicles, these are fun. There are a couple of excerpts from full-length novels by Marguerite Henry and Hugh Lofting, but these only whet your appetite for the book, instead of making you feel like you are in the middle of the story, out of context. I loved reading “The Last of the Dragons” by E. Nesbit, though I didn’t appreciate the author until later. It’s so nice to realize that a new “friend” is actually an old one.

Volume 5: Life in Many Lands

Stories about children in historical Americas and other parts of the world, told from older cultural perspectives.

Volume 6: Great Men and Famous Deeds

Not in my collection, but I’m looking for it. I’m confident it will be an asset.

Volume 7: Exploring the World Around Us

Nature study! This is the first volume containing photographs, mostly b&w, with some color sections. Exotic animals are first, specifically those that can be seen at a zoo or circus, followed by those that will be more familiar: fields and woods, pets, on the farm, birds, frogs and toads, creatures in the water, underground dwellers, reptiles, flowers, home gardens, and trees. A few pages of drawings include parts of a flower, how seeds are spread, and how to recognize common trees.

Volume 8: Creative play and hobbies

Although the pictures are dated, the activities are classic games and handicrafts. Indoor, outdoor, quiet games, travel, parties, hobbies, plays, drawing and painting (including “How to make better pictures”), writing, making toys, cooking, handwork, and puppetry. No distracting flashy advertisements or staged photographs to scroll past, just practical instructions. Guess who wrote the chapter on cooking? Irma Rombauer, author of Joy of Cooking. I notice that the pronouns are directed to children so the instructions are on their level, but not over-simplified.

Volume 9: Science and Industry

Although much has changed in the last 50+ years since these were written, “living wonders,” physical science, simple machines, observation of the sky, etc. have changed very little. Short, two-page explanations.

Volume 10: Art for Children

From simple instructions for children on how to make art, to examples of great works by many artists from different cultures, concluding with encouragement to look for all kinds of shapes in art and life–all the descriptions are extremely short. Maybe not ideal for in depth picture study, but a broader introduction to art appreciation.

Volume 11: Music for the Family

Listening for sound and rhythm, introduction to instruments, lullabies, nursery songs, folk songs and ballads, seasonal songs, patriotic, hymns (!), and stories about composers. The musical scores are fairly simple to play for those who can read music (or you could probably pull up the tunes online). Here’s the preface to the hymn section:

Hymns are the inspiring songs that have been written in praise of God. They have great beauty and strength, and in them there is a message of courage, hope, and inner peace for all people…

The value of hymns is lasting. Those hymns a child learns when he is young will give him strength and comfort all through life.

p. 146


Volume 12-15: Child development for parents

I don’t bother to keep these at ready reference, but at least the values are a blend of Judeo-Christian and conservative secular ethics before the modern era of gender redefinition. A lower priority if shelf space is a concern.

So there you go. I would love to hear if you remember reading these in your youth or if you are just now discovering them!

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Megan Saben

Megan is Associate Editor for Redeemed Reader, and she loves nothing more than discovering Truth and Story in literature. She is the author of Something Better Coming, and is quite particular about which pottery mug is best suited to her favorite hot drinks throughout the day. Megan lives with her husband and five boys in Virginia.

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  1. Cody on August 23, 2019 at 9:02 pm

    I believe Aladdin and his Wonderful Lamp was originally set in China actually.

    • Megan Saben on August 27, 2019 at 8:14 pm

      Really? Even though it was one of the tales in Arabian Nights? Aladdin sounds more like an Arabic name, but perhaps its roots were in China. I’ll have to go look…

  2. Jacie Sytsma on August 25, 2019 at 6:35 pm

    I loved our set when I was a child and read them numerous times…. I believe they eventually got thrown out due to termite damage, but I sure would love to reread the fairy tales volume as an adult.

    • Megan Saben on August 27, 2019 at 8:15 pm

      I hope you can find a copy! I’m so glad you are a fellow Childcraft lover.

  3. Karen Meyer on September 2, 2019 at 5:53 am

    I remember reading and enjoying these–the orange-bound set–as a child. I’ve given them away to a homeschooling niece with seven boys who like to read. I recall Jason and the Golden Fleece and various fun poems. I still love reading and have written eight books geared to young readers.

  4. John Saben on November 22, 2019 at 3:32 pm

    I think they tell good stories.

  5. Keith Robinson on October 16, 2020 at 3:27 pm

    I grew up with these. My mom read to me and my brother from them nearly daily from the time we were born until we were reading on our own. I still have that set and will not part with them; I will see to it that my grandchildren benefit from these wonderful books.

    • Keith Robinson on October 16, 2020 at 3:29 pm

      I can still quote The House that Jack Built, Eletelephony, The Purple Cow, and many others that I heard from those books.

      • Megan Saben on October 17, 2020 at 4:05 pm

        Keith, I think that Laura E. Richards became one of my favorite poets because of Childcraft! I’m glad you can pass along the love of good stories to your grandchildren.

  6. Wendi Passen on January 26, 2021 at 12:43 pm

    I LOVED volume 3 as a child!! Is there somewhere I can buy that volume! I have grandchildren who would LOVE to hear the actual stories!

  7. Gyikua Plange-Rhule on December 13, 2022 at 8:18 am

    Childcraft!! I think that is where my lifelong love of reading began, especially the first 3 books! Can still recite many of the poems (Her name was Diliki Doliki Dinah, Niece, she was, to the Emperor of China, Fair, she was, as a morning of May, when Hikokolorum, stole her away!)

    And those pictures!! They were absolutely mind capturing…

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