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The American Schoolhouse Reader: Volume I, II, III-A Colorized Children's Reading Collection from Post-Victorian America, 1890-1925 Review by Lisa Barthuly & Family

45th Parallel Concepts

I am an admitted "book nut," so when I got The American Schoolhouse Reader Set to review, I was thrilled - to say the least! I love beautiful, hardcover books, and these are not only beautiful but educational and historical. You can see why we were so excited to be able to review these books with my children!

This three-book set is the first colorized collection of readers from Post-Victorian America. Beverly Allie edited and colorized this set and did a magnificent job! The American Schoolhouse Readers are an anthology of the best of late nineteenth and early twentieth-century readers and are wholesome instruction, stories, and illustrations, which are absolutely lovely to find these days. The quality of this set is unsurpassed. The books boast thick, beautiful hard covers and heavy paper - not to mention the content!

Book I is phonics based, from the 1913 See and Say Series by Sarah Louise Arnold and Elizabeth C. Bonney. This volume is over 60 pages of introduction to phonics for our littlest children. It features gorgeous illustrations, starting with key sentences that connect the letters and sounds they will be learning, followed by the letters (sounds) and letter combinations (sounds/blends).

Book II is over 150 pages of wholesome stories and is divided into three parts. Part I is from the1891 Children's Primer by Ellen M. Cyr; Part II is from the 1899 Child Life: A First Reader by Etta Austin Blaisdell and Mary Frances Blaisdell; and Part III is from the 1903 Jones First Reader by L.H. Jones, A.M.

Part I starts with the shortest, simple story, called "Mamma." The words are broken down for the child at the very beginning and then used in the little story accompanied by an illustration.

See. See baby.
Mamma. See Mamma.

Each story throughout the book builds with new words introduced, and each part increases the difficulty level. By book's end you are reading full short stories (1-3 pages) while expanding the vocabulary used-excellent!

Book III is again over 150 pages of the same fine quality as Books I and II. The principles and moral fiber of the stories are wonderful, and the stories in Book III get more detailed and advanced, building on Books I and II. Book III is divided into four parts. Part I is from the 1924 Learn to Study Readers, Book One by Ernest Horn and Grace Shields; Part II is from the 1922 Stories Old and Newby Abigail O. Sheriff; Part III is from the 1916 Story-Land Dramatic Reader by Catherine T. Bryce; and Part IV is from the 1911 Tales Out of School by Myra King. Book III has us reading full short stories. Part III of this book even has two short plays, "The Unknown Artist" and "Josiah Breeze's Thanksgiving."

The focus of the stories, poems, skits, and lessons of the American Schoolhouse Readers set is family, nature, historical figures, farms, animals, and more, based on old-fashioned values and morals. These are absolutely timeless in their character building, quality, and influence. I would absolutely recommend this lovely set! I really can't come up with even one negative about them, unless you prefer much of the modern reading material of our day, in which case you probably wouldn't care for these books!

These are books I can let my children read through and know that the content is of the highest, and without negative influences. I can only hope that 45th Parallel Concepts keeps putting out lovely books and materials such as these!

Our wholehearted recommendation for the American Schoolhouse Readers! Visit their website at

-- Product Review by Lisa Barthuly & Family, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November 2005