The American Boys Handy Book by D.C. Beard (Review by Jerreth McLaughlin)

The American Boys’ Handy Book  is truly a classic and was first published in 1882. The author, D.C. Beard was born in 1850 and died in 1941. To quote, the book is “an 1890 manual of pastimes which includes instructions for making kites, fishing poles, a blow gun, boats, and theatrical costumes, and for raising dogs, stuffing animals, stocking an aquarium, and camping.” At one time or another our family has tried out most of what this book describes, and it actually works.The American Boys’ Handy Book not only provides a glimpse into what people did over 100 years ago, but tells you how you can enjoy the same things. This book is a boredom eliminator and learning stimulator!

Beard was actually one of the founders of the Sons of Daniel Boone and Boy Pioneers which later evolved into the Boy Scouts. This book is like being given a glimpse of your great great grandfather’s boyhood. There is what seems to be an endless list of ideas for things to do and how to do them. For example, Beard gives complete instructions for how to build a pine branch house. That said, there are also instructions for things you could do if you lived in the city, like make a kite, or home made fishing tackle or making your own pipe to blow soap bubbles. It also teaches you how you could make your own aquarium from scratch. All of our children did this and are lovers of aquariums and raising fish to this day.

The American Boys’ Handy Book also has instructions for things to do for kids who live in the city.

Another section tells you how to make paper puppets and theatrical costumes. There are numerous ideas for every season of the year. The book is a great read for history and provides excellent ideas to try for living history as you experiment with doing things that were done in the 1800s.

You wouldn’t believe what the author recommends as the perfect breed of dog for a child!

In addition, the instructions about birds or raising wild birds are excellent. Our children found and raised a variety of baby birds that had fallen from trees. Baby sparrows become very friendly and are really smart. The kids successfully set them free and then enjoyed watching the birds come back to visit on occasion. It promoted a love of birds and learning about them. That said, one needs to check with current state laws before doing this.

sparrow, wild bird
A Wild Sparrow

This book brings out the Huckleberry Finn in the readers and gives basic instructions for building 10 kinds of boats, water telescopes, hot air balloons, bird calls and numerous other fun things within its’ 440 pages.




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