Old Books + Family History

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Ok, I’ll admit it…I LOVE books! My husband always kids me saying that all our wall space is taken with bookshelves (and he actually isn’t kidding)! When we moved into our current house almost 8 years ago, I was so pleased to see one wall in the dining room had a huge built-in bookshelf. Yeah!


Over the years, I have collected quite a library of great books covering topics on history, science, literature, and poetry, as well as devotional and how-to type books. But nothing compares to the very special gift I was given recently by my parents. They had been sorting through some of their things and found these books that they decided they wanted to pass on to me. I love old books (because they are some of the best!), but these were special. These books were my grandparents’ when they were younger.

In the picture above you will see an original Primary Language Lessons book, a Number Primer, and a couple of old readers. Each of these were used by one of my grandparents when they were little. In fact, look at this book below…


This is the inside cover of the Primary Language Lessons book. My grandma is Ruth Rayl, and her sisters signed there too, Edna and Opal. My grandma’s two sisters have passed away already, but I still have my grandma and am so thankful to have these special books in memory of them.


This is a glimpse inside the Number Primer. You can tell these books were well used and are so much fun to look through.


A peek inside the Primary Language Lessons book shows how my grandparents (and some of our children today) learned their language arts! Simple and yet so effective!


Now for the sets of books I received! I have heard of Gene Stratton Porter and her book, A Girl of the Limberlost, and know how highly recommended her books are. Unfortunately, I have never had a chance to read any of them. I was able to get copies of A Girl of the Limberlost and Freckles on a couple of my Read-Aloud Treasury Kindle books, but was not aware of all the other books Gene Stratton Porter had written. I am so excited to have these and would love to get these all back in print (maybe they already are?). Anyway, I am very excited to have these original copies that were a part of my grandparents’ library and now a part of mine!


The other set of books I received was from an author I had never heard of, Bess Streeter Aldrich. My mom tells me this was my grandpa’s favorite author, and that he read the book, A Lantern in Her Hand, about every other year his whole life. Guess what book I am reading first?! Bess Streeter Aldrich was from Nebraska and wrote short novels and stories about the ups and downs of small town life on the prairie.

You probably can’t read what it says on the front of the Mother Mason book, but here is what it says on the bottom, “A wholesome novel of home and family life on the sunny side of a mid-Western street.” Here is a quote from the inside cover flap, “This is the story of a genuine mid-Western family in comfortable circumstances…It is a wholesome story about the kind of life and problems which are common to hundreds of thousands of American families which, like the Masons, are held together by the kindliness, humor, and practical Christianity of their presiding genius–Mother.”

These are the kinds of books that my grandparents read, and my parents read. My mom remembers reading these books when she was little too and I am so excited to dig into them with my own kids. Good, wholesome books like these are a true treasure.

I will treasure them not only because they are great books, but because they are a part of my family history that I want to pass down to my own children.

Happy reading!

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  1. I love Gene Stratton Porter books! My grandmother started a collection and I inherited them. I continued it until I had all her works of fiction. I think you are missing The Keeper of the Bees and Michael O'Halloran, if memory serves me correctly. One of the books (I think Laddie) is autobiographical. She also wrote nature books that are very expensive and hard to find. It's time for me to take one off the shelf and read it again!
  2. Wonderful post! I love old books as well and have some that my great-grandfather sent to my father as gifts when my dad was a boy. I've loved Gene Stranton Porter and Bess Streeter Aldrich -- and my other all time favorite is Grace Livingston Hill, a Christian author who wrote in the early 1900s up to the mid-40's. They are old friends that I go back and read over and over -- particularly when life is stressful. Your article reminded me of other favorites like Girl of the Limberlost that I've not read for awhile -- I will find it and enjoy it again. Thank you -- so glad to learn that there are others who love and value these wonderful old books!
    1. Dear Nancy, I will have to check into Grace Livingston Hill. Thank you! How fun to find another "old" book lover ;)! Have fun re-reading Girl of the Limberlost!

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