Saturday, April 13, 2013

Live History with Landmark Books Part I

Has your child wondered how it might feel to find gold in California in 1848? How about walking the streets of Philadelphia with Ben Franklin? With Landmark books, children can authentically journey through America’s (and the world- but that is another post) past with our country’s heroes. The are packed with rich history and adventure, each written with eloquent and inviting language, drawing children into the setting, meeting people they might have only heard about and never had the chance to “know”.

“The early morning sun gleamed like a bright golden coin above the California foothills. It was January 24, 1848. In all the green wilderness world there was no sight of life except a wisp of smoke from a breakfast fire, and the figure of a man walking beside a ditch that led from a nearly finished sawmill to a river. Suddenly he stopped and stared intently down.”
                                    - The California Gold Rush, May McNeer

Landmark books make these curiosities possible by taking children along on the journey, whether signing the Constitution or laying rails on the transcontinental railroad. Along the way they meet people who changed or shaped our country.

Now considered vintage (because of their age), these books were the first among historical, non-fiction books written for the middle grade reader. They were originally published by Random House in the 1940s, 50s and 60s in two categories: American and World. There are 122 titles in the American series and 63 titles in the World series all penned by award-winning authors (for example C. S. Forester, Margaret Cousins, James Daugherty and Sterling North) individually contracted to write for the series. The hardcovers are now out of print, though some titles have been edited and reprinted in paperback form.

Landmarks make wonderful additions to home libraries as they can be enjoyed by readers of all ages (I have been known to stay up late into the night eagerly turning pages). They can be found at used bookstores, garage sales, library sales or through online book sources.

But for a boy, there were trees to climb, fish to catch, boars to sail, and canoes to paddle. There were the Commons, where Bostonians drove their cows to pasture, the marshes, the ponds, the river, and the sea. Boys built forts and stockades and played Indian, put together homemade boats and sailed the ponds as pirates, explored the woods and swam in the blue water.”
                                    - Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia, Margaret Cousins

Some our favorite physical features of the hardcovers include large font and inviting two-tone line drawings. Several of our books have that “old book smell” adding to their authentic feel.

Landmarks have been a part of our almost 20 year home education journey. My oldest son devoured Old Ironsides, his first introduction to a full-length, independently read chapter book. He was hooked, not only on the series, but also on history. (Imagine the excitement when we had the opportunity to walk aboard the U.S.S. Constitution!) Since that time, each of our children has come to better understand history from these vintage gems.

I enjoy sharing our favorites, what they have taught us and how they have influenced our children's understanding of the people and events which have shaped history, through conference workshops and local presentations. Many have never heard of these books are eager to incorporate titles into their studies and learn how they can begin collecting these treasures for their home library. Wanting to know more about how to use Landmarks in your home education program? Contact me. I'd love to share how these books have brought history to life for our family in workshop format.

Note: These non-fiction books do not neuter history. There tell of the scenes of real history, real people and real details. Some of the books include first-hand accounts which may be desired reserved for older readers. For example Thirty Seconds over Tokyo, a moving account, brilliantly written by Captain Ted W. Lawson, contains details of the injuries sustained by the crew which crashed into the China Sea during the Doolittle Raid. As with any book, parents must decide what books and materials are suitable for their children.

The 122 titles in the American category:

1      The Voyages of Christopher Columbus by Armstrong Sperry
2      The Landing of the Pilgrims by James Daugherty
3      Pocahontas and Captain John Smith by Marie Lawson
4      Paul Revere and the Minute Men by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
5      Our Independence and the Constitution by Dorothy Canfield Fisher
6      The California Gold Rush by May McNeer
7      The Pony Express by Samuel Hopkins Adams
8      Lee and Grant at Appomattox by MacKinlay Kantor
9      The Building of the First Transcontinental Railroad by Adele Gutman Nathan
10    The Wright Brothers by Quentin Reynolds
11    Prehistoric America by Anne Terry White
12    The Vikings by Elizabeth Janeway
13    The Santa Fe Trail by Samuel Hopkins Adams
14    The Story of the U. S. Marines by George Hunt
15    The Lewis and Clark Expedition by Richard L. Neuberger
16    The Monitor and the Merrimac by Fletcher Pratt
17    The Explorations of Pere Marquette by Jim Kjelgaard
18    The Panama Canal by Bob Considine
19    The Pirate Lafitte and The Battle of New Orleans by Robert Tallant
20    Custer’s Last Stand by Quentin Reynolds
21    Daniel Boone by John Mason Brown
22    Clipper Ship Days by John Jennings
23    Gettysburg by MacKinlay Kantor
24    The Louisiana Purchase by Robert Tallant
25    Wild Bill Hickok Tames the Wild West by Stewart H. Holbrook
26    Betsy Ross and the Flag by Jane Mayer
27    The Conquest of the North and South Poles by Russell Owen
28    Ben Franklin and Old Philadelphia by Margaret Cousin
29    Trapper and Traders of the Far West by James Daugherty
30    Mr. Bell Invents the Telephone by Katherine B. Shippen
31    The Barbary Pirates by C. S. Forester
32    Sam Houston, the Tallest Texan by William Johnson
33    The Winter at Valley Forge by Van Wyck Mason
34    The Erie Canal by  Samuel Hopkins Adams
35    Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo by Captain Ted Lawson
36    Thomas Jefferson, Father of Democracy by Vincent Sheean
37    The Coming of the Mormons by Jim Kjelgaard
38    George Washington Carver, the Story of a Great American by Anne Terry White
39    John Paul Jones, Fighting Sailor by Armstrong Sperry
40    The First Overland Mail by Robert Pinkerton
41    Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders by Henry Castor
42    The Pioneers Go West to California by Covered Wagon by  George R. Stewart
43    Peter Stuyvesant of Old New York by Anne Erskine
44    Lincoln and Douglas: The Years of Decision by Regina Z. Kelly
45    Robert Fulton and the Steamboat by Ralph Nading Hill
46    The F. B. I by Quentin Reynolds
47    Dolly Madison by Jane Mayer
48    John James Audubon by Margaret and John Kieran
49    Hawaii, Gem of the Pacific by Oscar Lewis
50    War Chief of the Seminoles by Mary McNeer
51    Old Ironsides, the Fighting Constitution by Harry Hansen
52    The Mississippi Bubble by Thomas B. Costain
53    Kit Carson and the Wild Frontier by Ralph Moody
54    Robert E. Lee and the Road to Honor by Hodding Carter
55    Guadalcanal Diary by Richard Tregaskis
56    Commodore Perry and the Opening of Japan by Ferdinanad Kuhn
57    Davy Crockett by Stewart H. Holbrook
58    Clara Barton, Founder of the American Red Cross by Helen Boylston
59    The Story of San Francisco by Charlotte Jackson
60    Up the Trail from Texas by J. Frank Dobie
61    Abe Lincoln: Log Cabin to White House by Sterling North
62    The Story of D-Day: June 6, 1944 by Bruce Bliven, Jr.
63    Rogers’ Rangers and the French and Indian War by Bradford Smith
64    The Greatest Showman: The Life of P.T. Barnum by Joe Bryan III
65    Sequoyah, Leader of the Cherokees by Alice Marriott
66    Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys by Slater Brown
67    Wyatt Earp, U.S. Marshall by Stewart H Holbrook
68    The Early Days of the Automobiles by Elizabeth Janeway
69    The Witchcraft of Salem Village by Shirley Jackson
70    The West Point Story by Colonel Red Reeder
71    George Washington, Frontier Colonel Sterling North
72    The Texas Rangers by Will Henry
73    Buffalo Bill’s Great Wild West Show by Walter Havighurst
74    Evangeline and the Acadians by Robert Tallant
75    The Story of the Secret Service by Ferdinand Kuhn
76    Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too! By Stanley Young
77    America’s First World War: General Pershing and the Yanks by Henry Castor
78    The Doctors Who Conquered Yellow Fever by Ralph Nading Hill
79    Remember the Alamo! By Robert Penn Warren
80    Andrew Carnegie and the Age of Steel by Katherine B. Shippen
81    Geronimo: Wolf of the Warpath by Ralph Moody
82    The Story of the Paratroops by George Weller
83    The American Revolution by Bruce Bliven
84    The Story of the Naval Academy by Felix Riesenberg, Jr.
85    Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr by Anna Erskine
86    Stonewall Jackson by Jonathan Daniels
87    The Battle for the Atlantic by Jay Williams
88    The First Transatlantic Cable by Adele Gutman Nathan
89    The Story of the U.S. Air Force by Robert Loomis
90    The Swamp Fox of the Revolution by Stewart H. Holbrook
91    Heroines of the Early West by Nancy Wilson Ross
92    The Alaska Gold Rush by May McNeer
93    The Golden Age of Railroads by Stwart H. Holbrook
94    From Pearl Harbor to Okinawa by Bruce Bliven, Jr.
95    The Copper Kings of Montana by Marian T. Poole
96    Great American Fighter Pilots of World War II by Robert Loomis
97    The Story of the U. S. Coast Guard by Eugene Rachlis
98    William Penn: Quaker Hero by Hildegarde Dolson
99    John F. Kennedy and PT 109 by Richard Tregaskis
100  The Story of Oklahoma by Lon Tinkle
101  Americans into Orbit: The Story of Project Mercury by Gene Gurney
102  The Story of Submarines by George Weller
103   The Seabees of World War II by Edmund Castillo
104   The U. S. Border Patrol by Clement Hellyer
105   The Flying Tigers by John Toland
106   The U. S. Frogmen of World War II by Wyatt Blassingame
107   Women of Courage by Dorothy Nathan
108   Dwight D. Eisenhower by Malcom Moos
109   Disaster at Johnstown, the Great Flood by Hildegarde Dolson
110   The Story of Thomas Alva Edison by Margaret Cousins
111   Medal of Honor Heroes by Colonel Red Reeder
112   From Casablanca to Berlin by Bruce Blevin, Jr.
113   Young Mark Twain and the Mississippi by Harnett T. Kane
114   The Battle of the Bulge by John Toland
115   The Story of the Thirteen Colonies by Clifford Lindsey Alderman
116   Combat Nurses of World War II by Wyatt Blassingame
117   Walk in Space: The Story of Project Gemini by Gene Gurney
118   The Battle for Iwo Jima by Robert Leckie
119   Midway, Battle for the Pacific by Captain Edmund L. Castillo
120   Medical Corps Heroes of World War II by Wyatt Blassingame
121   Flat Tops: The Story of Aircraft Carriers by Edmund L. Castillo
122   The Mysterious Voyage of Captain Kidd by A. B. C.Whipple

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