The Olden Days, Additional Resources

An Olden Days Book List


by Wendy Buchberg and Sandy Rouleau


The "Early Settler Life" and "Early Communities" series by Bobbie Kalman (Crabtree Publishers, 1982–1993) provide a wealth of attractively-presented information for you and your students. The text may be too difficult for many beginning readers to manage, but is highly enjoyable as a teacher read-aloud. In addition, the outstanding illustrations make the books worthwhile for primary grade beginning researchers. The older volumes in the "Early Settler Life" series contain sepia-tone drawings, etchings and photos recreating historic scenes. The more recent volumes in the "Historic Communities" series include beautiful color photographs of recreated scenes, as well as etchings and drawings.

  • Titles in the "Early Settler Life" Series: (1982-1989):

    Early Artisans The Early Family Home Early Pleasures and Pastimes Early Schools Early Travel Food for the Settler
  • Titles in the Historic Communities Series: (1990-1993)

Colonial Crafts Colonial Life A Colonial Town 18th Century Clothing The Gristmill Home Crafts The Kitchen 19th Century Clothing Tools and Gadgets Visiting a Village

Other series and stand-alone titles you will find useful:

  • "Colonial American Crafts" Series:

    The Home and The Village, by Judith Hoffman Corwin. Franklin Watts, 1989

  • "Colonial Americans" Series:

    The Homemakers by Leonard Everett Fisher. Franklin Watts,1973.

    Other titles in the "Colonial Americans" series:

    The Architects, The Cabinetmakers, The Doctors, The Glassmakers, The Hatters, The Limners, The Papermakers, The Peddlers, The Potters, The Schoolmasters, The Shipbuilders, The Shoemakers, The Silversmiths, The Tanners, The Weavers, The Wigmakers.

    The text is too difficult for primary level readers, but the series is valuable as a resource for its striking white-on-black etchings, illustrating nearly every facet of colonial life.

  • "The Foods We Eat" Series:

    Butter, by Linda Illsley. Carolrhoda Books, 1991

    Other titles in "The Foods We Eat" Series include:

    Apples, Beans and Peas, Bread, Cheese, Chocolate, Citrus Fruits, Eggs, Fish, Meat, Milk, Pasta, Potatoes, Rice, Sugar, Vegetables.

    Outstanding color photography and simple text give young readers a good understanding of where the foods they eat originate and how they are prepared for market.

    The Laura Ingalls Wilder Songbook: Favorite Songs from the 'Little House' Books Compiled and Edited by Eugenia Garson. Harper Collins, 1992.

    This book includes words and music to all the songs Charles Ingalls played on the fiddle and the family sang in the during their years as pioneers.

    The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Classic Stories, by Barbara M. Walker, illustrations by Garth Williams. Harper Collins, 1979.

    All the basics for butter churning are in this cookbook, as well as dozens of other foods Ma Ingalls prepared for the Ingalls family.

    The One-Room School at Squabble Hollow, by Rosemarie Hausherr. Four Winds Press, 1988.

    This is a fascinating look at how the old-fashioned one-room schoolhouse still survives today.

    To Grandfather's House We Go: A Roadside Tour of American Homes by Harry Devlin. Four Winds Press, 1967.

    After looking at the photos of American architectural classics, your students will be more attuned to the historical architectural details right in their own communities.

    Where Does Food Come From? by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent, photos by William Muoz. Holiday House, 1991.

    This is a good companion volume to the Foods We Eat series described above.


    Charlie Needs A Cloak by Tomie dePaola. Simon & Schuster, Inc. 1973.

    This subtly humorous story shows the process of making a coat from shearing the sheep to the final construction of the coat. A wonderful book to encourage retelling and oral sequencing. A must if you plan on including dyeing, spinning or weaving activities in your Olden Days unit!

    Daniel's Duck, by Clyde Robert Bulla. Harper and Row, 1979.

    Why does everyone seem to be laughing at the hand-carved duck Daniel has made for his village's festival? Daniel learns to look past the obvious and appreciate the joy and satisfaction of crafting something by hand, imperfections and all.

    Ida and the Wool Smugglers by Sue Ann Alderson & Ann Blades. Margaret K. McElderry Books, Macmillan Publishing.

    This story works well for setting up the theme of what life was like 100 years ago.

    "Little House" Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Harper, 1932.

    Despite recent criticism that Native Americans are portrayed insensitively, this series still has a great deal to offer for young children, especially if selected passages are used as a read-aloud. Wilder's language is simple, yet rich with images of pioneer life, and Garth Williams' illustrations beautifully complement the text. Several publishers have begun offering series about the Ingalls family specifically designed for beginning readers. Check your local library and/or bookseller.

    Marianna May and Nursey, by Tomie DePaola. Holiday House, 1983.

    A young girl from an affluent family feels stifled because she is expected to wear frilly white dresses and stay clean all day long. The household staff, led by her nanny "Nursey" find a creative way to give Marianna May some freedom. Great depiction of a turn-of the-century household...and the expectations of children of that era!

    McCrephy's Field, by Christopher A. Myers and Lynne Born Myers. Houghton Mifflin, 1991.

    This is a wonderful story about the changes that happen to a farm when Farmer McCrephy moved away for several years. Great for showing how nature will change an ecosystem the when humans are not involved.

    The Missing Maple Syrup Sap Mystery, by Gail Gibbons. A. Hoen, 1979.

    A delightful story about the process of making maple syrup.

    Ox-Cart Man, by Donald Hall. Puffin, 1983.

    Hall's simple text, complemented by Barbara Cooney's striking illustrations, depict a year in the life of a family long ago. Each member of the family contributes items they've made for Father to sell on his yearly trip to the market in the big city. We see the cycle of seasons lending order and structure to the family's life.

    Pancakes for Breakfast, by Tomie De Paola. Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, 1978.

    When a woman awakes one morning desperately craving a delicious breakfast of pancakes, her attempts to assemble the raw ingredients are roadblocked by a series of mishaps. This wordless book gives today's microwave-savvy children a glimpse of what "cooking from scratch" is all about!

    Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle. Picture Book Studio 1990.

    This popular Eric Carle story shows the complexity involved in preparing even the simplest foods in the olden days. Fun to read as a companion to Pancakes for Breakfast, by DePaola.

    When I was Young in the Mountains, by Cynthia Rylant. Clarke, Irwin & Company, 1982.

    The quiet, repetitive, lyrical quality of Rylant's narrative speaks volumes about what has been lost in our modern culture.


    Many of the videos described below were originally films which were converted to video as technology changed. (The dates shown indicate when the original film was produced.) Still, we have found the quality to be quite good. The addresses and phone numbers of the distributors appear at the end of the list, for your convenience.

    Children of the Colonial Frontier, McGraw Hill Films, 1962.

    This video shows pioneer life on the very edge of America's colonial frontier and the many day-to-day chores that had to be performed to ensure survival.

    Children of the Wagon Train, McGraw Hill Films, 1960.

    Following the path of the Oregon Trail in 1849, you are able to see some of the motivating forces behind the westward movement.

    Colonial Children, Encyclopedia Britannica Educational Films, (undated).

    An interesting look at self-sufficient home life, clothing, customs and events in a colonial family's life.

    Fiddles and Whimmy Diddles, Journal Films, 1977.

    This outstanding film shows a day in the life of two pioneer children, highlighting their simple, but captivating toys and a typical evening of entertainment.

    Pioneer Living: The Home, Coronet Films, 1971.

    This video follows members of a pioneer family of the early 1800's as they select a site, build a log cabin, and eventually move in the few necessities they brought with them. Cooking over the open fireplace, candle and soap making, and other household chores are shown.

    Video Distributors:

    Coronet/Phoenix Learning Group 2349 Chaffee Dr., St. Louis, MO 63146, (800) 777-8100

    Encyclopedia Britannica 310 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60604, (800) 554-9862

    Journal Films/Altschul Group 1560 Shermon Ave., Suite 100, Evanston, IL, 60201, (847) 328-6700

    McGraw Hill Educational/Professional Publications 1221 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10020, 212-512-2000

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