100 Best Books for Children ~ Hawthorne

Number five and six on Baldwin’s The Hundred Best Books for Children list found in The Book-lover are classic retellings of the Greek myths by Nathaniel Hawthorne.

A Wonder Book for Boys and Girls and Tanglewood Tales

A Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawthorne are different sorts of books that bring the introductory stories of the Greek myths to children. Hawthorne’s versions tend to be complete except where he made changes appropriate to his audience. But as you would expect, his retellings are lighter in nature than the originals.

Why Greek myths? A question for the ages. One thing to keep in mind is how often we refer to these stories, whether we realize it or not. For example, we open Pandora’s box, or consider that the man has the Midas touch.

These adapted versions bring the language and lessons of the myths to our children without some of the elements that would otherwise be inappropriate. As always, choose what fits your family and leave the rest!

A Wonder Book includes the stories of:

  • The Gorgon’s head.
  • King Midas.
  • Pandora’s box.
  • The three golden apples.
  • The miraculous pitcher.
  • Pegasus and the Chimaera.

Tanglewood Tales contains:

  • Theseus and the Minotaur.
  • Antaeus and the Pygmies.
  • The Dragon’s teeth.
  • Circe’s Palace.
  • The pomegranate seed.
  • Jason and the Golden Fleece.

These two books have become classics in their own right:

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-64) introduced an entirely new note into children’s literature. Instead of writing down to children, instructing them and preaching at them in the guise of a story, he wrote as he would have written for adults, with depth of thought and great power. His was the greatest writing genius that had yet been employed in America expressly for the entertainment of children. Hawthorn’s Wonder Book for Girls and Boys (published in 1851) and his Tanglewood Tales for Girls and Boys (published in 1853) were planned and written for children. They were such masterpieces that they shall live as fresh as when they were written. This great romanticist gave to children, as he did to adults, the full flowering of his poetic genius, his deep knowledge of human nature and his charming style.

“American Writers for Children,” The Book of Knowledge

Free eBooks

A Wonder Book
LibriVox audio.

Tanglewood Tales
LibriVox audio.

Additional Resources
Greek Myths

D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths
Hawthorne is a storyteller; this title is a bit different. But it is the one we used to introduce the myths.

“Pegasus in Pound” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
A study to compare and contrast with Hawthorne’s retelling.

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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