Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Learning Tradition

One of my favorite memories from childhood was our family's set of World Book Encyclopedia. Moma and Daddy could NOT afford this set, but they bought it for us anyway. We all loved looking at them over the years. When our children began getting old enough to enjoy World Book, we couldn't afford them either. We attended a "Friends of the Library" book sale one year in Oak Ridge and found a set of WB from the early 60's. The set was green and blue and in perfect condition.  These volumes became John Thomas' best friends, and they are still in his room. He is always using them. We also later found a set of Childcraft, dated but in wonderful condition, again for a song--about $20 or so.

 Years later at a Homeschool Convention, we were able to purchase sets of WB, Britannica, Childcraft and the "Great Books" series  for an unbelievable price. These were the latest additions, sold as an affordable package for homeschool families. It was one of the most exciting days ever when all of those boxes of books arrived. We use these volumes all the time, particularly the "Great Books."

But here's the thing:  these new editions (they're several years old now) are not nearly as informative and substantive as the older ones!  The boys still use their old green ones. Virginia has a set of red Britannica Junior encyclopedia that are wonderful.  Perhaps the greatest change is in the Childcraft series. I was sorely disappointed. My favorites from my school days looked like this:

I have noticed that with the students at the College today, the majority of them never turn to Encyclopedia. They go to the internet as a matter of course rather than looking through printed reference materials. I fear the day when these great tomes are merely artifacts in the museums.
My mom used to sit and look at volume after volume of the WB's we had at home. I have seen JT go to sleep many a night with one of his green volumes at his side. I am so grateful to have had parents who valued knowledge for its own sake and encouraged learning. It was difficult to the point of being sacrificial for them to buy those Encycolpedia for us. I am grateful to the Lord that we have these great resources in our home and that our children love them, too. 


  1. I find it sad that the internet is taking the place of real research in books. Encyclopedia are such a wonderful resource.

  2. I loved my set of Encyclopedia's....... and I used them!

    I miss the card catalog too!

  3. Me too, Becky! I was a library worker for quite a few years and was in that "transition" generation from card catalog to computer records. Yikes! Elizabeth, I agree completely--nothing really replaces the book work.