by James Baldwin
No book is better for introducing children ages 6 to 9 to legendary historical figures than this collection of stories admirably retold by James Baldwin at the beginning of the last century. Selecting the best of our literary heritage, Baldwin cast it into a form that delights children of all ages. Beginning with stories of heroes from British history, including King Alfred and the Cakes, King Canute on the Seashore, and Bruce and the Spider, the book moves on to tales of other lands. From Ancient Greece come stories of The Brave Three Hundred, Alexander and Bucepahlus, and Diogenes the Wise Man. Introducing the history of Rome are the Story of Cincinnatus, Horatius at the Bridge, and Julius Caesar. The stories of William Tell, Arnold Winkelried, and Robin Hood impart a bit of the flavor of the Middle Ages. Rounding out the collection are a number of timeless tales that show heroes in action: Damon and Pythias, The Sword of Damocles, Picciola, and The King and His Hawk.
Children naturally take a deep interest in such stories. The reading of them will not only give pleasure but will help to lay the foundation for broader literary studies since nearly all are the subjects of frequent allusions in poetry and prose. Young children will enjoy having these stories read to them, while older children will delight in reading them to themselves.
In 1953, a young James Baldwin published Go Tell It on the Mountain, winning acclaim as a literary star and one of the leading voices of the African-American experience. Although Baldwin would spend the bulk of his adult life in France, his writing always addressed the complexities at the heart of America, viewed through the lens of the consummate outsider.
Paperback: 188 pages