Landmark Books

Today at the library book sale I found a trio of books from the Landmark Books series by Random House.

Over the years I have slowly picked up some of the books from this series, and I actually need to someday pull them all together to see which ones that I have.

The Landmark Books are interesting as they are examples of ‘Living Books.’

Living books is a term that was coined by the English educator Charlotte Mason who taught in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Charlotte Mason said that living books were those that “spark the imagination of the child through the subject matter.”

Charlotte Mason was a proponent of Home Education and many of her concepts are still used today by those who home school. I also found out that the Landmark Books are popular with home school families.

Lee and Grant, Civil War, Landmark Books, Living Books, MacKinlay KantorA living books definition at is:

Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style. The books pull you into the subject and involve your emotions, so it’s easy to remember the events and facts. Living books make the subject “come alive.”

The book above is a classic example. Lee and Grant at Appomattox is by MacKinlay Kantor who definitely had a passion for the Civil War. Kantor is best known for his novel Andersonville which won the Pulitzer Prize.

Many living books could also be classed as Historical Fiction as they cover historical events.

Gettysburg, MacKinlay Kantor, Living Books, Landmark Books, Charlotte MasonGettysburg is another book in the series and it is also written by MacKinlay Kantor. I remember reading this one when I was in grade school and it was a great narrative of the battle. I remember our grade school library having a shelf full of the Landmark Books and I would often take several of them home to read over the weekend.

Stonewall Jackson, Landmark Books, Jonathan Daniels, Living books, Civil WarI will get to the third title that I picked up today, but want to slip this one in since it is also about the Civil War. This is one of the books in the series that I already had here at home. Stonewall Jackson by Jonathan Daniels is about the Confederate General, but unlike the books above it also covers his entire life story. It is very import in historical accounts to know the backgrounds of the participants. How did they get to that point in their lives? is a very important question to ask.

The Panama Canal, Bob Considin, Landmark Books, Living BooksThe Panama Canal is by Bob Considine who was a well know journalist and commentator. This is another one of the books that I remember reading years ago. Reading living books like this one is what helped build my knowledge of history and geography.

Landmark Books, Living Books, Charlotte Mason, Home SchoolHere is the back cover of The Panama Canal. At the top is a statement about the books.

What are Landmark Books?

Each is a book that brings to life a great event in our nation’s past. Each is designed to be rich, rewarding reading, capable of stirring the reader’s heart as well as his mind. Each is intended to arouse not only an interest in the course of history, but an understanding of how the democracy that is our heritage was forged.

I believe that Charlotte Mason would definitely agree with this mission statement.

You can also see listed the first 20 books of the Landmark Books. I am not sure how many of these that I have, but this is just the beginning of the series. There are 122 titles in the Landmark Books series and another 63 titles in the World Landmark Books series.

Do you remember reading any of these books?


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