Before Austen Comes Aesop

The Children’s Great Books and How to Experience Them

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Before Austen Comes Aesop presents an in-depth examination of the Children's Great Books, that is, the literature that has made the most profound impact on the lives of children throughout Western history. In addition to its invaluable chronological list of titles, from ancient times to the present, the book provides both students and their parents the guidance they need to read leisurely or study formally the Children's Great Books at home.

The book's premise is that children often do not spend enough time with the literature written or adapted for them before diving into adult works. An experienced teacher, the author argues that children benefit in many ways from lingering longer over literature created for them.

The Children's Great Books list includes the classic works that, while not written strictly for children, were orally passed on to them for generations and are foundational for understanding Western culture. These works include Greek and Roman fables, myths, and epics; European legends, sagas, folk stories, and fairy tales; and the Bible. The list also includes the acclaimed works written specifically for children, beginning in the age of the first printing presses and continuing into the late twentieth century. 

Additionally, acknowledging the changes in children's literature that have occurred since the mid-1960s, the author provides helpful information for discerning which contemporary influential books are appropriate, or perhaps inappropriate, for one's children. She also includes several appendices that are useful for the study of literature at both the elementary and the secondary levels.

Cheri Blomquist

Cheri Blomquist is a freelance writer and teacher with a degree in English Education and the Bible. She directs the Denim Beret Writing Program through her website Once upon a Pen.  She has also written courses, articles, poems, and stories for The Old Schoolhouse and other magazines.

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by Charlie Schmidt
on 4/4/2021
from CULVER CITY
To boldly sail strange seas of thought via the thrilling adventure of reading
The purpose of Cheri Blomquist’s Before Austen Comes Aesop is to encourage children to read Children’s Great Books.  She lists her criteria for a Children’s Great Book as follows:
1.	The book has played a significant role in the history of children’s literature.
2.	It has influenced the development of Western literature - children’s, adult, or both.
3.	It has been valued by young people for much of its existence.
4.	It has long been considered excellent literature.
The list of Children’s Great Books in this book does indeed meet that criteria and is a useful guide to choosing books for grade-school and high school students to read.  To give you a feel for this book, here is Cheri Blomquist’s summary of Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery:
Main character: Anne Shirley
Main character traits:	Bright, imaginative, dramatic, lover of beauty, talkative, loving, generous, slow to forgive
This book is an excellent guide to books that will help children see the truth beauty in great books.
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"A foundational resource for any educator who wants to give children an expansive imagination, and an easy go-to when looking for the next book to pick up!"
— Christy Isinger, Co-Host, Fountains of Carrots Podcast

"This is an extraordinarily well-developed guide to young readers' literature. It is a treasure trove of painstaking research, pedagogical insight, and the author's wisdom. Parents, librarians, home educators and public educators, indeed anyone who cares about the healthy formation of children, and the fostering of a wholesome culture, will recognize this book as an invaluable resource."
— Michael O'Brien, Author, Father Elijah: An Apocalypse

"A thoughtful and comprehensive self-guided literature program. This classical literature approach will help guide parents, teachers, and students with designing their program in a way that bridges adult classics with children’s classics. Describing the importance of each literary work, Cheri compellingly details the qualities and values each one offers."
— Jessica Gordon, Blogger, Shower of Roses and Catholic Cuisine

"Never again will parents need to grope in the dark and grapple with numerous lists of various quality to work out which books should form an indispensable part of their child's education. Everything that any discerning parent needs to know is found in the pages of this book, not merely which classics children should read but why and how they should read them."
— Joseph Pearce, Author, Literature: What Every Catholic Should Know 

"The aim of this volume is to nurture lifelong readers who appreciate the art of truly good literature. If we can do that, I firmly believe we have given children the best we can offer to prepare them for rigorous academics and for real life."
— Elizabeth Foss, Founder, Take Up & Read

"Blomquist expresses a rarely acknowledged truth: that great children's books are no less great than their grown-up counterparts and skipping over them does a disservice to our children and ourselves. It's worth buying this book for Blomquist's list and summaries of the children's canon alone!"
— Sally Read, Poet and Author, Annunciation: A Call to Faith in a Broken World

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