More than 50 years ago, as a middle grade student
at Skyland Elementary in Atlanta, I loved visiting the
school library. I went through phases of reading
biographies, mysteries, then sports books. But I think
the biographies are my dearest memories, and certainly
helped kindle my lifelong interest in history.
Biographies are packed with adventure, discovery, and
larger-than-life characters. But because they are real
people, they inspire the reader to dream and achieve.
I can think of no better medium to teach the important
lessons of the past while also fostering a love of reading.
The biographies at Skyland were part of an American
Heritage series called "Childhoods of Famous Americans."
The covers I recall were all the blue cloth-bound editions
like this one, copyright 1948. Once I tasted the adventure,
I didn't care how old the books were, I dived in.
My luck at yard sales is as good as my luck
in all things-- the Loyd Luck, Judy calls it.
So over the years, I've been fortunate to adopt
a growing collection of these fine books, mostly
discarded from school libraries. The book above
is the only one I have in that binding, and it has
a nameplate in the front: it was a gift to a student.
It's actually in better condition than my newer ones.
Over 25 years ago I bought a dozen softback books
in the series at the Southern Pines library sale.
They were vintage 1963 editions. A few hardback
books I collected over the years are pictured with
Last Friday, in Camden, South Carolina,
I hit the jackpot once again. At forty cents a book,
I more than doubled my collection. Out of the 22
books I bought, only three were repeats of one I had.
(Can you find them?)
They are written in a style that would remind
you of Little House on the Prairie books and
Judy and I plan to read through the collection.
This one minute video gives you a closeup of
all the titles and subtitles. Below the video, I
will also list all the books, authored by a wide
array of authors.
Jessie Fremont: Girl of Capitol Hill
Buffalo Bill: Boy of the Plains
DeWitt Clinton: Boy Builder
John Jacob Astor: Boy Trader
Dan Beard: Boy Scout
Carl Sandburg: Young Singing Poet
Julia Ward Howe: Girl of Old New York
Zach Taylor: Young Rough and Ready
Elias Howe: Inventive Boy
Katherine Lee Bates: Girl Poet
Stephen Foster: Boy Minstrel
Mary Mapes Dodge: Jolly Girl
Jed Smith: Young Western Explorer
Babe Didrikson: Girl Athlete
Frances Willard: Girl Crusader
Will Clark: Boy in Buckskins
Noah Webster: Boy of Words
David Farragut: Boy Midshipman
Maria Mitchell: Girl Astronomer
James Whitcomb Riley: Hoosier Boy
John Wannamaker: Boy Merchant
F. W. Woolworth: Five and Ten Boy
Robert Peary: Boy of the North Pole
Stephen Decatur: Gallant Boy
Ernie Pyle: Boy From Back Home
Susan Anthony: Girl Who Dared
Lee DeForest: Electronics Boy
James Oglethorpe: Young Defender
Aleck Bell: Ingenius Boy
Richard Byrd: Boy of the South Pole
Robert Fulton: Boy Craftsman
Edward Bok: Young Editor
Eugene Field: Young Poet
Lotta Crabtree: Gold Rush Girl
George Gershwin: Young Composer
Gail Borden: Resourceful Boy
Rachel Jackson: Tennessee Girl
J. Sterling Morton: Arbor Day Boy
Yes, many happy hours of reading await
me and Judy. And I encourage you to invest
some summer leisure time to reading something
you enjoy. If you have children, they benefit
just from seeing that you value reading. And
make it easy and desirable for them to read, too.
It doesn't have to be biographies; this is just
my happy rant for the day.
And I certainly don't plan to give up my
Superman comics. That's where I got my start!