Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Review: Yesterday’s Classics

Who doesn’t love curling up under the blanket or sitting outside on a sunny day with a good book?  Feeling the weight of the text in your hands, flipping page after page, and becoming lost in a good story...  ahhhhh.

When e-readers first started to hit the market, I was sort of indifferent. Reading from a screen just isn’t the same.  I want a books to place upon my shelves, loan to friends, or even dog ear the pages.  Going digital just seemed wrong.  Besides, I’m extremely frugal and usually purchase real books at library sales for 50 cents. Why would I pay $5-10 for a digital copy instead of the real thing?

However, as the popularity of e-readers grew, I started to reconsider. I discovered there are many low-cost or even free quality books available.  Some readers have capability of using library services for e-books and several allow you to loan titles to friends.  The price started dropping to the point that it was actually cheaper to buy a Kindle than it would be to buy the number of bookshelves I needed to support my growing book collection.  This February, I finally caved and purchased my Kindle.  Now I’m wondering why I waited?  I also found that I had two kids eyeballing my new toy.

So, not only have I been on a quest for quality and inexpensive adult e-books, but quality children’s and young adult literature as well.  When I discovered that I would have the opportunity to review an e-book bundle from Yesterday’s Classics, I did a little happy bibliophile dance.


Yesterday’s Classics republishes titles of the golden age of children's literature, from the time period of 1880 and 1920. Having been out of print for many years, these aren’t titles that you’ll find at the library used book sales.  In addition, the rich vocabulary and stories of classical literature typically is not found in modern titles.

Yesterday’s Classics, a supplier of many classical titles in paperback, is now offering a complete e-book bundle of 225 titles in both Kindle and EPUB format.  The package includes:
  • 225 classical children’s literature titles from 22 genres intended for ages 5-18
  • a list sorting titles by author, title, genre, and level for easy locating
  • a guide to downloading the files to your e-reader
  • a list of thumbnail pictures and descriptions of each title for better selecting titles for your children
  • a general guide to e-reader devices
The titles cover 22 different genres for ages 5-14, classified as Level 0 – 3.  Over 180 of the titles are for ages 6-11 (Level 1 and 2). There are roughly 15 in Level 0 and 25 in Level 3.  The lower levels are categorized by interest level, rather than reading level.  I will note that the older children will likely be interested in the lower levels.  These are not twaddle books!  My almost 12-year-old had no problem becoming engaged in the Level 2 book The Story of the Romans by H.A. Guerber and I actually enjoyed reading Grammar-Land (also Level 2) by M.L. Nesbitt. I was thrilled to find some supporting materials for Grammar-Land and hope to incorporate this narrative grammar instruction into our homeschool.

While many of these titles are available for free on the internet, Yesterday’s Classics is providing more than mere text.  For starters, the each Yesterday’s Classics title includes a Table of Contents for easy navigation, illustrations (even in color if the original text is color), and readable formatting.  Email support is also available if trouble downloading occurs.

In addition, many of the titles are used in various homeschool programs, listed below.  Click the program you are interested to see what titles are included.
Purchasing the package makes all of the 225 titles accessible with just a few keystrokes.  While you could spend hours searching out the titles and downloading them individually, you won’t necessarily find the same readable formatting even if you could find them all. The package of 225 titles is available for $99.95 through May 31st. At first, my frugal mind thought this was a bit pricey, until I pulled out the calculator. At less than 45 cents a title, each title cost less than my used book sale finds at the library.  Furthermore, no extra shelves are needed!  The same Kindle and EPUB titles are available individually from Yesterday's Classics for $2-6, making the package just a very small fraction of purchasing the titles individually. If you have more than one kind of e-reader, Yesterday’s Classics will provide both the Kindle and EPUB versions for one package price. Seeing that my daughter is considering a Nook and I have a Kindle, this was a nice bonus. If you don’t have a reader, you can download e-reader software for free and read the titles on the computer.  Titles can be printed or even read on mobile devices (Note: The Kindle App for ipads and smart phones currently does not support the titles in this package.).
I have selected titles handy on my Kindle and the rest stored on my computer for future transfer to my Kindle, rather than stuck under a bed (because of space issues) out of sight of eager readers. Since I’ve gotten into the habit of carrying around my Kindle with me when running errands and going to appointments, it is nice to have some quality children’s literature available for my kids when we have an unexpected delay. My son enjoyed 14 chapters of one title while waiting for his sister during an appointment, rather than occupying himself with a gaming system or otherwise being bored – definitely a situation makes me better appreciate the digital age of literature.

The nicer formatting and convenience of the titles in one spot makes this e-Book package a useful and economical option, especially for a family with children of multiple ages to make use of all the titles. Furthermore, if you use a homeschool program that uses the titles provided, this package is a definite time and money saver.


Want to sample a classic title from Yesterday’s Classics before purchasing?  The Dutch Twins by Lucy Fitch is available as a free download in both Kindle and EPUB versions (links can be found here). The Yesterday’s Classics E-book Package can be purchased for $99.95 in both Kindle and EPUB versions for $99.95 with a 100% Risk-Free Guarantee.

Curious about what other TOS Crew members had to say about this product?  Visit the official TOS Crew blog to read more reviews.

Disclaimer: This review was provided as a result in my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew. I was provided the product free of charge in exchange for my honest review. I have received no other compensation. I strive to give a balanced overview of each product, detailing my opinion of both pros and cons and how the product worked for my family. What works for one family may not work for another. I encourage you to read reviews of other Crew members and research sufficiently to determine if any product will be a benefit to your homeschool.

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