The Books We Got For Christmas

If an American child of the first half of the Nineteenth Century could see today’s flood of books for children, he might be delighted, but he would certainly be bewildered, for American children before 1850 had few books they could call their own. On long winter evenings they settled down to Cooper’s Leather-stocking Tales, or they read Washington Irving’s The Sketch Book until they knew “Rip Van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” almost by heart.