In my role of Uncle Rick, I’ve just started recording a new old set of books. This series is called the Boys of Liberty series and is by several different authors. It centers around the Revolutionary War although a couple of the books are instead set in the War of 1812. The books were published around 1900. Today as I sat in front of the microphone I was a bit shocked to read this:
As we are writing history and not mere fiction, as the object of these stories is to give our young people knowledge, imparted in a pleasing manner, it is necessary that facts should be stated and the inception of the great revolution clearly pointed out.
That paragraph followed one that talked about how British General Gage tried to goad the citizens of Boston into rioting so that he would have justification for placing the city under martial law and hunting down the Sons of Liberty before they could grow strong enough for a successful war against the Crown. In other words, he was looking for an excuse to start a fight before the patriots were prepared. So the author was explaining to his young readers the reason for giving the background information he had just covered.
When I read that my ears pricked up. Most modern books don’t address the reader in second person to start with. But the significant thing is one that I’ve noticed before: people used to write kids’ books not just to entertain, but for the benefit of the reader. These old books are always full of moral lessons, not to mention the historical information kids learn by reading (and in Uncle Rick’s case, listening to) them.
The children’s section of your local library is a wasteland. Full of fluff, occultism, political correctness and bad attitudes. Do yourself and your kids a favor by finding books over a hundred years ago—when they were still being written for the benefit of kids, not just to make a buck.