Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Crew Review: Yesterday's Classics E-book Library

If someone handed you a library of quality children's literature (that is interesting for an adult to read as well), would you be happy? What about if it didn't involve having to buy another bookshelf or build an addition to the house?

Wlll then, let's talk about Yesterday's Classics e-book library.

The company.   Yesterday's Classics has built a business out of republished 18th and 19th century classics:
... These books, first published in the golden age of children's literature from 1880 and 1920 and long out of print, are reprinted in modern easy-to-read type for today's readers. The illustrations from the original volumes have been included except in those few cases where the quality of the original images was too low to make their reproduction feasible. Color illustrations in the original volumes are rendered in black and white in these editions. 
The company has been selling softcover books for a number of years, and recently has added e-pub and Kindle compatible versions to their line.  These electronic books are sold individually (for $2-$5 each) or as an entire library!

Yesterday's Classics maintain their own online storefront, but their books are sold at several online retailers, including and Barnes and Noble.  However, their ebook collection is being sold at their website only.

The product. Purchasing this set of books will save you BUCKETS of money.  Purchased individually the 225-volume set costs (gulp) $2,495.75 for the printed volumes.  In e-book format, the set is regularly priced at $149.95.  That's huge savings.  During the month of May, they are having an e-book special which you can view at this site:

Included in the set of Yesterday's Classics titles are enough books to use for many, many years of home education and enjoyment. The books are divided into 22 categories, among them:
  • Fairy Tales (12 titles)
  • Ancient Rome (18 titles)
  • World History (9 titles)
  • Shakespeare (2 titles)
  • American History (18 titles)
  • Science (7 titles)
  • Legends (14 titles)
  • ...and lots more!

I've used a number of YC's titles in my homeschooling career for science (nature studies), literature studies and history. As a Tapestry of Grace (TOG) family, we've used the following titles just this past year:

My son and I both really LOVED the Beowulf retelling, and Our Island Story is one of my son's favorite history books (it tells the history of Great Britain in story format).  I've found the nature series, "Among the ___ People" by Clara Dillingham Pierson to be sweet stories about animals in their natural habitats.
This year alone, I've spent about $74 on YC books for five paperback books. After scanning the titles, I realize I could have used a half dozen other YC titles as alternates for my grammar-level students' history and literature readings.  Puchasing all their titles for $150 (or on sale at $99!) is a good deal for a TOG user.

Yesterday's Classics titles are also commonly used with Ambleside Online, Living Books Curriculum, Heart of Dakota, and Pageant of History.  You can view which titles at the website.

If you've never used a re-published book from the 18th and 19th century, it is worth viewing a sample at the website.  There are several distinctives about this genre of literature:

  • The writing style is reflective of a different era.  Think about reading something like Little Women or Pride and Prejudice.
  •  The sentence structure and vocabulary -- while accessible to children -- is more advanced than contemporary children's literature.
  • Many of the titles look to impart clear moral values in line with Judeo-Christian beliefs, even while learning about animals that live in and around a pond.

It should be noted that the texts may use terms that are not political correct or widely used anymore (Muhammadans is used instead of Muslims, for example). I prefer to discuss the racism and prejudice in the context of history and God's creation.

Our experience. In terms of acquiring a library of e-books, loading them and using them, I am very pleased with this set.  Prior to receiving this collection, I had practically no experience with e-readers.  I do use an iphone, but I've never had to import files into the ibook app that I use.

So it was with a bit of hesitation that I downloaded the 13 zip files that make up a purchase of this library. Included in the download were many helps and guides: from how to pick an e-reader to lists of the books by title, category and author.  It was actually fairly easy to add them to my itunes library and sync it with my phone!  Amazingly enough, I have all 225 books loaded on my phone, and still have plenty of room left for accidental pictures of my car floor and videos of the boys looking up one another's noses.

Having the books that we use as spines to our history curriculum has come in very handy!  No more freaking out by teacher or student  when student says, "Uh, Mom, I left This Country of Ours at home,"as we drive off on a field trip

I love that the YC's versions of these books have been published with tables of content.  Believe it or not, some public domain books do not have this feature. Thankfully, the library comes without Digital Rights Management (DRM), so you can load the books on your phone, tablet, laptop, etc. -- as many devices as you have.

Kindle format warning:  You can only use the Kindle format on an actually Kindle or Kindle for PC.  Kindle apps for iphone and ipad are not able to add these files.  Instead, order the e-pub files, which you'll be able to load to ibooks or other e-pub apps. (YC will send you a file with your purchase that explains different apps you can use to view your books.)

If the content of antique books for children appeals to you, I highly recommend checking out one of the samples available at Yesterday's Classics. A free download called The Dutch Twins is available so you can try out  an e-book (scroll down the page about one-fourth of the way until you see the big buttons).

Accidentally order the wrong format?  Yesterday's Classics will easily help you get the correct format you need for your applications and devices. Their customer service is wonderful, and the product comes with a 100% money back guarantee --
...But don't just take my word for it.  Click over to TOS Review Crew and see what others had to say.

FCC statement:  In exchange for my honest opinion (the good, the bad, and the ugly), I as given a free download of the Yesterday's Classic epub library. No other compensation was given.

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