100 Best Books for Children ~ Wyss

Continuing our adventure theme, number four on Baldwin’s The Hundred Best Books for Children list found in The Book-lover is The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss.

The Swiss Family Robinson

Here is another story about surviving a shipwreck. In this case it is a family of six (and two dogs). Their adventures are quite a bit more upbeat and lively than Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe.

Published in 1812, The Swiss Family Robinson has been translated into many languages. It was written by Johann David Wyss, an army chaplain and student of agriculture. The story was invented for the amusement of his four children and told around the fire on winter nights.

Some people think that Johann David Wyss was first given the idea for the story by a sea captain who came back from a voyage with the tale of how he had rescued a Swiss family stranded on an island. They had been shipwrecked, but managed to survive very well and were strong and healthy when they were saved. Others say that the author borrowed the plot from Robinson Crusoe, as many other writers had done before him.

“The Swiss Family Robinson,” The Book of Knowledge

Wyss’s story lay among his papers for more than twenty years. But after his death, one of his sons found the manuscript, made a few changes, and had the book published for the enjoyment of other children.

There are actually two endings, one French and one English. The English ending is the one most of us are familiar with and was written by Wyss’s son.

Johann David Wyss is also known as the writer of the Swiss national anthem. He taught philosophy at Bern Academy of Science. But his fame is always associated with his classic story.

The Story

The Robinson family try to make the best of the situation and create a new home and way of life on their island. Discoveries, adventures, and inventions abound:

  • A taste of sugar cane juice.
  • A tangle with monkeys.
  • Making bread out of a root.
  • The building of their tree house.
  • Adventures with a boa constrictor.
  • Finding herds of antelope.
  • Lassoing an ostrich.

There is no question that this book stretches the imagination quite a bit! Some have pointed out that there are unlikely to be the animals that the Robinson family faces all on the same island (bears? lions?). Yet, there is a reason you will find this classic on many reading lists.

If ready to enjoy the adventure as written, young and old alike will find it quite an enjoyable read.

Free eBooks

Swiss Family Robinson in Words of One Syllable by Aiken
For the younger reader.

Swiss Family Robinson
LibriVox audio.

Additional Resources

New Switzerland
Map for Notebook

10 Favorite Robinson Crusoe Books
The lost-on-a-deserted-island theme is popular around here. Other stories to enjoy!

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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