100 Best Books for Children ~ Hunt Jackson

Bits of Talk for Young People by “H. H.” is number 64 on The Hundred Best Books for Children list found in The Book-lover. It is a book of poetry and prose written by Helen Hunt Jackson and published in the late 1800s.

Helen Hunt Jackson (1830–1885) was known as a poet and writer. She is probably most well known for her writings dealing with the treatment of Native Americans.

Bits of Talk alternates poetry and stories aimed at “young people.” But don’t expect any talking down. The book is really full of role models, interesting stories, and philosophy suited to the young reader. Topics covered include:

  • St. Nicholas.
  • My ant’s cow.
  • St. Martin.
  • How we spend time.
  • St. Thomas.
  • A parable on health.
  • Good temper.
  • A voyage around the world.
  • Observing nature.
  • Cheeriness.

I believe that it is, in the outset, a good gift from God at one’s birth, very much dependent on one’s body, and a thing to be more profoundly grateful for than all that genius ever inspired, or talent ever accomplished. This is natural, spontaneous, inevitable cheeriness. This, if we were not born with it, we cannot have. But next best to this is deliberate, intended, and persistent cheeriness, which we can create, can cultivate, and can so foster and cherish, that after a few years the world will never suspect that it was not a hereditary gift handed down to us from generations. To do this we have only to watch the cheeriest people we know, and follow their example. We shall see, first, that the cheery person never minds— or if he minds, never says a word about—small worries, vexations, perplexities. Second, that he is brimful of sympathy in other people’s gladness; he is heartily, genuinely glad of every bit of good luck or joy which comes to other people. Thirdly, he has a keen sense of humor, and never lets any droll thing escape him; he thinks it worth while to laugh, and to make everybody about him laugh, at every amusing thing; no matter how small, he has his laugh, and a good hearty laugh too, and tries to make everybody share it. Patience, sympathy, and humor, — these are the three most manifest traits in the cheery person. But there is something else, which is more an emotion than a trait, more a state of feeling than a quality of mind. This is lovingness. This is the secret, so far as there is a secret; this is the real point of difference between the mirth of the witty and sarcastic person, which does us no good, and the mirth of the cheery person, which “doeth good like a medicine.”

H.H. writes about everyday life as an observer and commentator. She covers character without being preachy. But mostly her writing is very engaging. Perfect for a read-aloud!

Free eBook
  • Read the book aloud, one section at a time.
  • There are 26 sections. To fit into a normal school year, you can simply cover one section each week.
  • Ask for oral narrations. Did your child understand the lesson? Is there something he can find in it to apply to his own life?
  • Several locations are mentioned. Find them on a map or globe.
  • Use one of the verse pieces to tell a story (turn it into prose).
  • Learn more about one or more of the subjects covered. (See resources below.)
  • Create an author page for Helen Hunt Jackson (along with the other authors in our series).

Additional Resources
Free Nature Studies: Ant Workers Part 1

Free Nature Studies: Ant Workers Part 1
Learn more about an ant’s cow.

Free Nature Studies: Ant Workers Part 2
And worker ants.

Free Bird Studies: Nests & Eggs ~ Complete Series
For observing nests.

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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