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Series Descriptions

The existence of popular children series was just as common a hundred years ago as it is today, and for many of the same reasons. If children enjoy one book in a series, they frequently look for other similar books. Likewise, the most popular juvenile history authors often wrote dozens of book of a similar genre, and their works were frequently grouped together by publishers.

There are over 80 books included in the young readers collection, and of these, over three-fourths are part of a series, edited by a single publisher and often written by the same author. Rather than describing related books individually, on this page we group common books together, and describe the set together, including relevant information about the author. A list of all of the series that are included in the Young Readers Collection follows.

To see a short synopsis of each individual book, including both those that are part of a series and those that are not, see our Book Summaries page.

Series Title Description Volumes Author
Told to the Children Illustrated juvenile versions of classical legends and literature. 18 of 30 various
Stories from History Selected tales from Greek, Roman, French, English, Norse, and Medieval History. 6 of 6 various
Children’s Heroes Biographies of many of the most exciting characters of history, particularly British history. 13 of 16 various
Famous Stories Historical Readers Short vignettes from history, used extensively as "historical readers" in elementary schools. 3 of 3 Baldwin
Old Time Tales Short stories from the American, European, and Biblical History. 3 of 3 Evans
American History Stories American history from colonial times to the civil war, told in short stories. 4 of 4 Pratt
Colonial Children Historical fiction featuring children of colonial times in America. 6 of 10 Otis
Cousins of Long Ago Historical Fiction set in pre-modern times. 9 of 11 various
Twins of the World Historical fiction featuring boy and girl twins from countries around the globe. 10 of 13 Perkins
Jataka Tales Fables for children based on Indian Buddhist folklore. 2 of 2 Babbitt
Great America Short stories and anecdotes from American History. 2 of 2 Eggleston

Told to the Children Series

The object of the Told to the Children series, published by E.C. and T.C. Jack in Great Britain in the early 1900’s, was to take well known classics from both the western canon and 19th century English literature and retell the stories in a simple manner for children age 9-12. The books themselves are short, well written, and beautifully illustrated. An upper elementary age child can sometimes complete an entire book in only a few hours, and even younger children can read them independently. A great deal of the complexity of the original is left out, but in most cases the author focuses on telling a few stories well rather than trying to cover every aspect of the original at a superficial level.

The series involves over 30 books by a number of authors, but we have not attempted to republish the whole series. The books we have published represent the best of the series and focus mainly on legendary classics rather than those adapted from Victorian era originals. Only the books in the series which we have published are listed here. There are several more pending.

Told to the Children   Edited by Louey Chisholm
Title Compact Library size
Gulliver's Travels   by Lang British Empire, Young Readers 33
King Arthur's Knights   by Macgregor British Middle Ages, Young Readers 36
Stories of Siegfried   by Macgregor Christian Europe, Young Readers 37
Stories from Pilgrim's Progress   by Macgregor British Middle Ages, Young Readers 37
Uncle Tom's Cabin   by Marshall Early America, Young Readers 48
Stories of Beowulf   by Marshall British Middle Ages, Young Readers 29
Stories of Robin Hood   by Marshall British Middle Ages, Young Readers 38
Stories of Roland   by Marshall Christian Europe, Young Readers 33
Stories of William Tell   by Marshall Christian Europe, Young Readers 31
Stories of Guy of Warwick   by Marshall Christian Europe, Young Readers 31
Stories from the Old Testament   by Chisholm Young Readers 36
Stories from the Life of Christ   by Kelman Young Readers 44
Stories from the Iliad   by Lang Ancient Greece, Young Readers 36
Stories from the Odyssey   by Lang Ancient Greece, Young Readers 37
Stories from the Arabian Nights   by Steedman Young Readers 42
Stories from the Ballads   by Macgregor British Middle Ages 36
Stories from Dante   by Macgregor Christian Europe 41
Stories of Wagner   by Smith Modern Europe 35
Stories from Robinson Crusoe   by Lang British Middle Ages 37
Stories from the Faerie Queen   by Lang British Middle Ages 42
Celtic Tales   by Chisholm British Empire 42

Stories from History Series

The Stories from History series, in common with the Children Heroes series from the same publisher, is a short, nicely illustrated series of books that introduce elementary readers to some of the most famous stories from history. The series features tales from the history of Greece, Rome, France and England, as well as stories from the Vikings and Crusades during the middle ages.

Instead of attempting to tell the entire history of each country in such a short book, the authors selected between six and ten especially famous stories to tell with enough detail to be of interest. By carefully selecting their stories, each writer manages to get across the most important events and characters of their subject civilization in a manner that is appealing even for young children. The books are short enough to be read in only a few hours by an older elementary school student, or read aloud to a younger one.

Stories from History Edited by John Lang
Title Compact Library size
Stories from the Crusades   by Kelman Christian Europe 31
Stories of the Vikings   by Macgregor Christian Europe, Young Readers 43
Stories from Roman History   by Dalkeith Ancient Rome, Young Readers 37
Stories from French History   by Dalkeith Christian Europe, Young Readers 35
Stories from Greek History   by Lemon Ancient Greece, Young Readers 36
Stories from English History   by Skae British Middle Ages, Young Readers 39

Children’s Heroes Series

The Children's Heroes series was published in the early 1900’s by T.C. and E.C. Jack, and has many of the same positive attributes as their well-known Told to the Children Series. Instead of focusing on literature however, it is a series of biographies, primarily about historical English men-of-action. Several of the "heroes" dealt with in this series were not unambiguously good men, but all lived important and action filled lives, that are of great interest to young people.

A few of the heroes introduced in these tales, such as Lincoln, Columbus, and Joan of Arc, were not figures related to British history, but most of the others were. This series, therefore, is not only a wonderful collection of fascinating biographies, but also gives terrific insights into British history. We recommended many of these books as a supplement to older students who are undertaking a comprehensive study of England and the British Empire.

Children's Heroes by Various Authors
Title Compact Library size
Story of Robert Bruce   by Lang British Middle Ages, Young Readers 44
Story of Joan of Arc   by Lang Christian Europe, Young Readers 35
Story of Columbus   by Imlach Spanish Empire, Young Readers 34
Story of Francis Drake   by Elton British Middle Ages, Young Readers 37
Story of Raleigh   by Duncan British Middle Ages, Young Readers 36
Story of Lord Clive   by Lang British Empire, Young Readers 32
Story of Captain Cook   by Lang British Empire, Young Readers 34
Story of Napoleon   by Marshall Modern Europe, Young Readers 34
Story of Nelson   by Sellar British Empire, Young Readers 40
Story of Abraham Lincoln   by Hamilton Early America, Young Readers 37
Story of Livingstone   by Golding British Empire 32
Story of H. M. Stanley   by Golding British Empire 32
Story of Lord Roberts   by Sellar British Empire 39
Story of General Gordon   by Lang British Empire 38
Story of Chalmers of New Guinea   by Kelman Unavailable  
Story of Cromwell   by Marshall Unavailable  
Story of Bishop Patterson   by Paget Unavailable  

Famous Stories Historical Readers

James Baldwin was one of the most influential educators and authors in the late nineteenth century. He was a teacher and at one time superintendent of the Indiana public schools, and later worked with the American Book Company to produce books suitable for elementary textbooks. At one time it was estimated that almost half of the books used in public schools were written or edited by Baldwin and he dedicated his career to producing high quality classic books for elementary students.

The books from his Famous Stories series were particularly popular and were used as "readers" in the young elementary grades in schools throughout the United States. They are written at a second to fourth grade level and retell dozens of true stories, about half from American history, and the rest from world history. These stories are anecdotal in nature, and many have a gentle moral. They do not tell complete histories or biographies, but usually only touch upon a single incident in a famous person’s life. For example, the stories of "Columbus and the Egg", and "Bruce and the Spider", recount only brief episodes in the lives of these famous characters, but at a level of great interest to young readers.

Famous Stories Historical Readers by James Baldwin
Title Compact Library size
Fifty Famous StoriesYoung Readers 66
Fifty Famous PeopleYoung Readers 71
Thirty More Famous StoriesYoung Readers 79

Old Time Tales

Lawton Evans was a public school teacher and administer from Augusta, Georgia, and an extraordinarily talented story-teller. In the first decades of the twentieth century, he wrote a series of story books based on historical tales, and also several American History textbooks. The Old Time Tales series is a collection of his best stories, from American History, European History, and Biblical History.

Evans was a strong believer in story-based history, and his books were favorites of school children throughout the nation. His America First is a collection of 100 fascinating stories from American History, many involving interesting anecdotes from less well-known characters, as well as retellings of some of the most famous episodes in American History. It is not a comprehensive history by any means, since the stories are of diverse origin and generally unconnected. Likewise, Old Time Tales (also published under the title Kings and Knights of Old), tells a variety of stories from European History from the last days of the Roman Empire to the French Revolution. Heroes of Israel retells stories form the Old Testament in chronological order, but each story is told with great interest at a level comprehensible to a grammar school student.

Old Time Tales by Lawton Evans
Title Compact Library size
America FirstEarly America, Young Readers 151
Old Time TalesChristian Europe, Young Readers 112
Heroes of IsraelYoung Readers 130

American History Stories Series

Mara Pratt was a prolific author of children’s history books in the late 19th century, and her American History Stories series includes many of the most famous anecdotes from the early days of the colonies to the close of the civil war. The books are intended for young readers and tell short stories of interesting characters and events rather than providing civics instruction on constitutional matters.

In addition to introducing important historical characters by way of short vignettes, Pratt also uses songs, poems and art to illustrate her stories. Several chapters consist only of lyrics or verses composed in honor of specific events or characters. Pratt also delights in telling interesting stories of not-so-famous people who in some way or another supported American values, or advanced the cause of freedom.

American History Stories by Mara L. Pratt
Title Compact Library size
American History Stories—Vol I: Colonial Era Early America, Young Readers59
American History Stories—Vol II: Revolutionary TimesEarly America, Young Readers59
American History Stories—Vol III: National PeriodEarly America, Young Readers59
American History Stories—Vol IV: Civil War Early America, Young Readers74

Colonial Children Series

James Otis was a very successful children’s author around the turn of the century, although his primary genre was fiction, or historical fiction, rather than regular history. In this series, set in the early years of colonial America, the protagonist of each book is a young child of American settlers. The point of the series is not to deal in detail with political events, but rather to show the manner in which the children of early pioneers and colonists lived in their everyday lives. The following is from the introduction to Richard of Jamestown.

"The purpose of this series of stories is to show children, and those who have already taken up the study of history, the home life of the colonists with whom they meet in their books. To this end every effort has been made to avoid anything savoring of romance, and to deal only with facts, so far as it is possible, while describing the daily life of those people who conquered the wilderness whether for conscience sake or for gain.

That the stories may appeal more directly to the children, they are told from the viewpoint of a child, and purport to have been related by a child. Should any criticism be made regarding the seeming neglect to mention important historical facts, the answer would be that these books are not sent out as histories,—although it is believed that they will awaken a desire to learn more of the building of the nation,—and only such incidents as would be particularly noted by a child are used."

Only four books from this series are currently available. The rest will be completed in a later release.

Colonial Children by James Otis
Title Compact Library size
Richard of JamestownEarly America, Young Readers 66
Ruth of BostonEarly America, Young Readers 64
Peter of AmsterdamEarly America, Young Readers 62
Stephen of PhiladelphiaEarly America, Young Readers 67
Seth of Colorado Early America, Young Readers 60
Hannah of KentuckyEarly America, Young Readers 62
Benjamin of Ohio Early America  
Mary of Plymouth Early America  
Antoine of Oregon Early America  
Calvert of Maryland Early America  
Philip of Texas Early America  
Martha of California Early America  

Our Little Cousin of Long Ago Series

The Our Little Cousin series was introduced by the Page Company in the early 1900's. It was based on the idea of introducing world geography through the stories of children who live in various countries. After its initial success, a new series was initiated, entitled Our Little Cousin of Long Ago. These books differed from the original in that they were centered on ancient civilizations instead of modern ones. Most were set in the midst of important historical events, but the central drama is always fictional, and the historical events and characters play out in the background, rather than the foreground of the story.

Like the original series, the books are intended to focus on the everyday life, beliefs, customs, and livelihoods, of the characters rather than to tell a particular historical tale. In many cases however, the character is present at an important battle, or during the sacking of monastery, or during some other key historical event. But the main plot typically involves the curious adventures of a ten-year-old boy rather than a particular historical incident.

Our Little Cousin of Long Ago by various author
Title Compact Library size
Our Little Spartan Cousin   by Cowles Ancient Greece, Young Readers 43
Our Little Athenian Cousin   by Cowles Ancient Greece, Young Readers 36
Our Little Roman Cousin   by Cowles Ancient Rome, Young Readers 37
Our Little Carthaginian Cousin   by Winlow Ancient Rome, Young Readers 36
Our Little Saxon Cousin   by Cowles Christian Europe, Young Readers 34
Our Little Norman Cousin   by Stein British Middle Ages, Young Readers 41
Our Little Crusader Cousin   by Stein Christian Europe, Young Readers 48
Our Little Celtic Cousin   by Stein British Empire, Young Readers 37
Our Little Viking Cousin   by Johnston Christian Europe, Young Readers 49

Twins of the World Series

This series of books is based on the idea of introducing world geography and the customs of different civilizations, by way of a pair of twins growing up in various countries. The books are written for grammar school students, and each features a set of twins—always a boy and a girl—who are young and curious. The plots are simple, but the characters themselves are developed in enough detail to be of real interest.

The books deal primarily with customs, geographic, and livelihood issues rather than historical or political issues, but several of the stories are conceived with a historical circumstance such as a war, a flood, or land-reform in the back-ground. In these cases, the day to day life of a typical family growing up in unusually difficult circumstances is portrayed. Most of the books, however, are focused on presenting the life-style and customs of the children in a given country, and their daily activities and education.

Twins of the World by Lucy Fitch Perkins
Title Compact Library size
Dutch Twins Young Readers 50
Eskimo Twins Young Readers 49
Japanese Twins Young Readers 47
Swiss Twins Young Readers 32
Puritan Twins Early America, Young Readers 45
Scotch Twins British Middle Ages, Young Readers 57
Mexican Twins Spanish Empire, Young Readers 52
Belgian Twins Modern Europe, Young Readers 48
French Twins Modern Europe, Young Readers 50
Spartan Twins Ancient Greece, Young Readers 43
Italian Twins unavailable  
Irish Twins unavailable  
Cave Twins unavailable  

Jataka Tales

The following excerpt is from the introduction to Jataka Tales

The Jatakas, or Birth-stories, form one of the sacred books of the Buddhists and relate to the adventures of the Buddha in his former existences, the best character in any story being identified with the Master.

These legends were continually introduced into the religious discourses of the Buddhist teachers to illustrate the doctrines of their faith or to magnify the glory and sanctity of the Buddha, somewhat as medieval preachers in Europe used to enliven their sermons by introducing fables and popular tales to rouse the flagging interest of their hearers. . . .

. . . While some of the stories are Buddhistic and depend for their point on some custom or idea peculiar to Buddhism, many are age-old fables, the flotsam and jetsam of folklore, which have appeared under various guises throughout the centuries, as when they were used by Boccaccio or Poggio, merely as merry tales, or by Chaucer, who unwittingly puts a Jataka story into the mouth of his pardoners when he tells the tale of "the Ryotoures three."

. . . The Jataka Tales contain deep truths, and are calculated to impress lessons of great moral beauty. . . . .these tales "are, as everyone must admit, nobly conceived, lofty in meaning, and many a helpful sermon might be preached from them as texts."

Jataka Tales by Ellen C. Babbitt
Title Compact Library size
Jataka TalesYoung Readers 32
More Jataka TalesYoung Readers 33

Great Americans Series

Edward Eggleston was an America author, well-known both as a historian for children, and as an author of fiction. Eggleston wrote serious history for adults and was particularly well known for his "local-color" accounts of small-town American life. When he tackled children's history it was with the specific intention of engaging young children with anecdotes of early American life—particularly that of the pioneers and explorers who settled this great land with little more than their own courage and wit. The following paragraph sum's up his intentions, from the Preface to American Life and Adventure.

. . . The stories and sketches in this book relate mainly to earlier times and to conditions very different from those of our own day. They will help the pupil to apprehend the life and spirit of our forefathers. Many of them are such as make him acquainted with that adventurous pioneer life, which thus far has been the largest element in our social history, and which has given to the national character the traits of quick-wittedness, humor, self-reliance, love of liberty, and democratic feeling. These traits in combination distinguish us from other peoples.

Eggleston was a gifted writer, and both of these book were written specifically for very young readers. The use short sentences, short chapters, and a limited vocabulary that is accessible to beginning readers, while retaining a great deal of interest and capturing the authentic spirit of early America.

Great American Series by Edward Eggleston
Title Compact Library size
Stories of Great Americans   Early America, Young Readers 60
American Life and Adventure   Early America, Young Readers 84

The number of sheets listed indicates the number of 8½ by 11 sheets of paper required to print the entire book, single-sided. Double-sided printing would allow publishing the entire book using only half the given number.

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