100 Best Books for Children ~ Edgeworth

The Parent’s Assistant is a collection of children’s stories by Maria Edgeworth and number 50 on The Hundred Best Books for Children list found in The Book-lover.

The book contains 16 stories suitable for most children.

It seems, however, no very easy task to write for children. Those only who have been interested in the education of a family, who have patiently followed children through the first processes of reasoning, who have daily watched over their thoughts and feelings—those only who know with what ease and rapidity the early associations of ideas are formed, on which the future taste, character, and happiness depend, can feel the dangers and difficulties of such an undertaking.

The Parent’s Assistant

The author was interested in the science of education, the interest likely being inherited from her father who was an inventor and author. Maria Edgeworth eventually formed her own views of education based on theories of her day.

This book sticks to those themes most will agree are common to the education of us all:

At present it is necessary that the education of different ranks should, in some respects, be different. They have few ideas, few habits, in common; their peculiar vices and virtues do not arise from the same causes, and their ambition is to be directed to different objects. But justice, truth, and humanity are confined to no particular rank, and should be enforced with equal care and energy upon the minds of young people of every station; and it is hoped that these principles have never been forgotten in the following pages.

With this in mind, you will find the themes of industry, good humor, and choosing good companions. The objective seems to be to point out that which is worthy of imitation contrasted with that which is not. Yet, Ms. Edgeworth also intended to downplay moralization:

To prevent the precepts of morality from tiring the ear and the mind, it was necessary to make the stories in which they are introduced in some measure dramatic; to keep alive hope and fear and curiosity, by some degree of intricacy. At the same time, care has been taken to avoid inflaming the imagination, or exciting a restless spirit of adventure, by exhibiting false views of life, and creating hopes which, in the ordinary course of things, cannot be realised.

You’ll want to read these stories aloud to younger readers, though the footnotes will help make the meaning older turns of phrase clear.

  • The stories are perfect for narrations. If oral/written narrations become monotonous, try one of these 30 Narration Ideas.
  • This book is illustrated. Have your student illustrate and describe a different scene from a story.
  • Each story certainly has a moral, even if that lesson isn’t directly referred to. Have your student explain what the “moral” might be.
  • Create an author page for Maria Edgeworth (along with the other authors in our series).

Free eBook

Additional Resources

Author Notebooking Pages {Free Download}
Use this free set to create an author notebook for our 100 Best Books for Children series.

The Hundred Best Books for Children ~ Introduction
The Hundred Best Books for Children

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