100 Best Books for Children ~ White

John Stuart White’s selections from Plutarch’s Lives is number 90 on the Hundred Best Books for Children found in The Book-Lover by Baldwin.

Parallel Lives were biographies of famous ancient Greeks and Romans by the Greek philosopher and historian Plutarch. The biographies were meant to examine virtues and failures of famous people.

John Stuart White, former headmaster at Berkeley School, sought to use these biographies as instruction in virtues. The Boys’ and Girls’ Plutarch, has been edited for a younger reader. Just note, the vocabulary (and occasionally the topics) may require some explanation.

The 31 “lives” covered include:

  • Theseus.
  • Romulus.
  • Pericles.
  • Demosthenes.
  • Cicero.
  • Alexander the Great.
  • Caesar.

Although this book is familiar with homeschool families, Plutarch’s Lives for Boys and Girls by Weston may be a more accessible choice depending on the age of your students. Where White dives right in, Weston has the reader in mind:

In making the selection, the writer has been guided by the wish to choose those lives which appear to him to be most likely to interest young readers, and which also exhibit most clearly, either by example or contrast, the beauty of patriotism and the nobility of the manly virtues of justice, courage, fortitude, and temperance.

The selected lives have been freely retold. The discursive reflections, in which Plutarch frequently indulges, have been generally omitted; so also have many proper names not necessary to the full understanding of the stories. But, while much has been omitted, the writer has not presumed to add matter, other than seemed necessary to explain the importance or bearing of events, or to make the narrative clear to young readers.

Plutarch’s Lives for Boys and Girls Being Freely Retold by W. H. Weston

Weston’s version also includes introductory notes to the six Greeks and six Romans covered.

You’ll find links to both versions below.

Free eBooks

The Boys’ and Girls’ Plutarch by White

Plutarch’s Lives for Boys and Girls by Weston

  • After reading one of the “lives” in the book, ask for a written narration of the main points. What stands out? What traits would the student emulate? Where could the individual have made better decisions?
  • Each life can be summarized in a notebook. This will provide quite a character study!

Additional Resources
14 Forms of Writing for the Older Student: Biography

14 Forms of Writing for the Older Student: Biography
Using the examples in the book, older students can write a “life” of their own.

Plutarch Study Guides
If you are new to Plutarch, these notes at AmblesideOnline may be helpful.

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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