100 Best Books for Children ~ Dickens

100 Best Books for Children ~ Dickens
100 Best Books for Children ~ Dickens

The next book on The Hundred Best Books for Children list found in The Book-lover is another history. A Child’s History of England by Charles Dickens was originally written as serial pieces in an English weekly magazine. The work was published in three volumes before being recompiled into one work in the early 1900s.

Dickens inscribes the work to his own children:

Whom I hope it may help, bye-and-bye, to read with interest larger and better books on the same subject.

With this in mind, A Child’s History of England is likely best read aloud, which was our method. We read one chapter each day. By doing so, you will cover the book in one school year. If you choose to beef the work up a bit, narrations (written or oral) could be added. We also read other works (individually and aloud) that covered the same period.

Dickens has definite views about his subject, covering the history of England from the ancient Romans through Queen Victoria. Yet, his telling is very story-like, making this book a living book for learning history.

In the old days, a long, long while ago, before Our Saviour was born on earth and lay asleep in a manger, these Islands were in the same place, and the stormy sea roared round them, just as it roars now. But the sea was not alive, then, with great ships and brave sailors, sailing to and from all parts of the world. It was very lonely. The Islands lay solitary, in the great expanse of water. The foaming waves dashed against their cliffs, and the bleak winds blew over their forests; but the winds and waves brought no adventurers to land upon the Islands, and the savage Islanders knew nothing of the rest of the world, and the rest of the world knew nothing of them.

He himself thought his childhood was the most significant part of his life. The characters and incidents he came in contact with often made it into his stories. Though this is a work of nonfiction, you will still find the beating heart of one who sees at once the poor and best in humanity.

What he wrote to arouse his generation increasingly saddens the reader of today. Still, it is well we should know of wrongs that have been, so that we may safeguard the world against their return. No other novelist has played, through his tales, the part of a social reformer so persistently as Dickens played it.

The humanity that we see in these crusading attacks on wrong shines as clearly, and perhaps as effectively, in the general spirit of all his stories. It stands out from every page, whatever his immediate subject may be…. [In his stories] Dickens put the best of himself.

“The Books of Dickens and Thackeray,” The Book of Knowledge
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Additional Resources

A Christmas Carol: A Unit Study
Our favorite Dickens work.

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