“Good reading is as essential to the nourishment of a child’s character as good food is necessary for the development of his body.” – Angelo Patri, Childcraft 1949
The 1949 Orange Childcraft Volume 1: Poems of Early Childhood leads off with a brilliant introduction by Angelo Patri about the essential value quality reading has in a child’s life. If it were permissible to share and credit whole texts, I would just photograph it and leave it here to do my work for me. It is clear from this two-page plea to parents, that this series was crafted with deep respect for children and their learning. It was penned in a time when we could still call good things good, and bad things bad, and practically everyone knew what we meant.
Friends often ask me which Childcraft series I would buy if I could only buy one. There is no way that I can answer that question. Both are so different from each other and both are absolutely foundational in our family library. If I were absolutely pressed to reduce my collection down to just 12 volumes, I would keep the first 6 of the 1949 orange series, and I would find the best 6 of the modern series (Mathemagic, Magic of Words and How Things Work being non-negotiable inclusions).
The newer series does have Poems, Stories and Fables, etc. For my money, and taste, however, those are add-ons since the 1949 orange series covers them with gorgeous watercolor illustration and classic good taste. I am not saying that I would part with my newer editions, just that they have lesser value to me than the orange base set.
“Make no mistake about it, a child needs the spiritual refuge that books afford.”- Angelo Patri, Childcraft 1949
Volume One: Poems of Childhood is organized to deepen a child’s love of poetry and help to develop their stamina for the reading of longer and more varied forms. Rich illustration is lavished on every page and draws the child into the heart of the story through the lovely and imaginative pictures.
Section One: Mother Goose and Nursery Rhymes
“‘Humpty Dumpty’s rhythmic expression is a bit of an accepted race philosophy. Fragile material things are worsted in a contest with infinite forces. A child would be bewildered, stunned, by such a statement, but he gleefully accepts it, chuckles over the picture it presents, when it is offered in the nursery rhyme. He understands that the egg cannot fall off a wall without coming to grief and, inarticulate though he is, he catches the bit of philosophy that lies behind the symbol.”- Angelo Patri, Childcraft 1949
Section Two: The World About Us
“The time comes when the child emerges from his world of imagination and symbolism into one nearer actuality. He demands the true story… the child is now eager for biography, history, and science told in story. The form shifts but the content must still hold the halo and glamour of romance, the poetical quality of a dream, while it offers the sterner stuff of soul structure: duty and honor and truth.”- Angelo Patri, Childcraft 1949
Section Three: Fun and Fancy
“Fairies and witches and elves live in the child’s world because he needs them. Rhythmic language, lovely poetry, tales worn smooth in their passage down the years are his own forms of expression, happily understood and readily assimilated in speech and action. The vital spark of truth they contain, the sure touch of beauty that is upon them, justify the child in his love for them.”- Angelo Patri, Childcraft 1949
“You can give a child very little that he can keep as his own. You can give him a good book. There is no finer gift within your power.”- Angelo Patri, Childcraft 1949