How Books Have Changed in the Past Century

For years Jenny Phillips, the founder of The Good and the Beautiful, has deeply analyzed books and how they have changed over the past 100–150 years. In this video, Jenny gives her fascinating findings and explains how the changes in books are in turn changing our children. The kind of books that developed the noble character of people like Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Edison are not the kind of books you now see on the best-selling children’s book lists today.

Are popular books today actually harming academics? Are your children really benefiting from the books they are reading? All parents and teachers need to watch this video!

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  • Rebekah Austin

    I general, I agree with the philosophy that what we read effects how we think and who we become. To that end, I was happy to find a reading list that said it promoted good values and morals.
    I have to say that I am fairly disappointed with the year 2 History reading recommendations. I ordered the book Foo and Ching and was completely disappointed. I don’t need to fill my daughter’s head with ideas that girls are worthless. I understand that is is a historical truth of what happened in China, but I really don’t feel it’s appropriate for this age group that is so impressionable.

    Next, I ordered the book The Black Fox Of Lourne, again for this history course, and could not believe that in the opening chapters a mass murder takes place (and details of their bodies being thrown over a cliff). In subsequent chapters the father of the two boys is also murdered. In reality the book is NOT an “adventure” it is graphic violence that supposedly lead to the conversion of some of the family to “Christianity”. I really can’t see Christ acting in such a manner.

    I really don’t understand how these books can be called beautiful, moral, upbuilding, or good reading in any form.

    • The Good and the Beautiful

      Hi Rebekah!
      Thank you for your comments. We are finding that every family is different in what they feel is appropriate historical detail to include in books or not and at what age. Some parents love to teach their children the hard but true facts of history at certain ages, while other parents don’t even ever like to address it with their children. We don’t feel the details given in The Black Fox of Lourne about the scene you reference are inappropriate as they are very brief and true to historical context. Please note that in our history course that that book is suggested for GRADES 10-12, not for young children. We’ve made notes on your comments, and will include them in our summaries for those books in case other parents have these same concerns. May God bless you as you continue to pursue good and wholesome books with your children!

  • Janna

    Love that g+b books are quality and teach our values!

  • Maycee

    I think we noticed that our books have lost a lot of good over the years, but we haven’t seen how much beauty we’ve lost. Everything used to be so descriptive and beautiful! It seems to parallel the decline of our art from realism to abstract.

  • Mitzi Husby

    Thank you!! I can’t wait for my older children to hear the difference in the books from today vs the older books. I have tried to explain this to them and how their writing needs more detail and not constantly be simple sentences. 🙂

  • Leilani

    I found the comparisons of the first 5 sentences of books written 150 years apart fascinating. It is no wonder that it is difficult for kids, and adults as well, to comprehend much of the beautiful language used in the scriptures. Even the way we talk to one another has become simple, dumbed down, and lazy. There is no doubt that the language used in more contemporary books has contributed to the decrease in comprehension and the ability to both speak and write in a complex and descriptive manner.

    I’m super curious which series of books (with the mouse as a main character) Jenny is speaking about near the end of the video.