The Story Of Mankind – by Hendrik Von Loon (1921)

Not long ago, I spotted a copy of the first Newbery Award children’s book in a library book sale. The book was old and battered, but only fifty cents, so I bought it. This book had the honor of being the very first book recommended for children by the American Library Association, so I thought it MUST be good.


At home, I opened it up. The title page looked kind of cool:



I got to page 4, and thought, hmmm, this is serious reading for kids. Let’s start that discussion about evolution young.


I skipped ahead to page 44, about the Indo-Europeans… (who?)


I kept flipping through pages, until reaching page 336. A picture of a guillotine adorned the page. Good grief – is this really a kids’ book?



Well, I continued to peruse the “The Story Of Mankind”. Page 479 was clearly written to bolster a large vocabulary.  Check out these words:




seditious radical

holy endeavors




The book was 482 pages long, a length even the average adult would have difficulty managing.

I could only shake my head and wonder what kind of person would think this was a book for children. Cross this off your list for the kids…




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