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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

TOS REVIEW: Yesterday's Classics

May 1-31st cost $99.95 (originally $149.95)

I was so ecstatic when, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I was chosen to review Yesterday's Classics collection of 225 Classic Books for Children. I love my Kindle and also have a second ereader for the kids' use. If you've followed my blog for any length of time you are aware of my love for my Kindle. ;) Before I ever had a Kindle however, I had apps for my PC. You can get them free for almost all ereader software (and for MAC, too!).

In our homeschooling adventure we use a lot of classic literature for learning. We rely heavily on Ambleside Online's free curriculum. And I just love a great deal. 

Yesterday's Classics (YC) is known for the wonderful printed classics that date from the 1880s to the 1920s. Many of the books are out of print and if you find them, they are extremely expensive. I happened upon YC when first starting with Ambleside Online- often the books could be read online at (a sister site of YC) even when I couldn't find them at a decent price to purchase. 

The quality of the printed books is wonderful (I have a few that I've purchased myself). I especially loved that the illustrations were included in the books. They are in black and white however, even if originally they had color. 

Yesterday's Classics has gone a step further and made access to the classics even easier- and affordable!! One of the great things about YC is that they are great people. The customer service they give is wonderful. I had to ask for EPUB files to use with the Bookeen that I have the kids use (I'm a wee bit touchy with my Kindle), and Laura was wonderful! It was service with a wonderful attitude and a cyber smile (well, I could sense the 'smile').

The books range from Level 0-3 which equates to ages 5-14, however, all are different. What one 5 year old can read, another may not be able to and vice versa. There are 22 genres represented in this collection:

World History - Early Civilizations - Children of the World - Poetry
Nature - Middle Ages - Ancient Greece - Legends - Fables
Renaissance and Exploration - Ancient Rome - Science - Kindergarten
Readers - Fairy Tales - American History - Britain - Christmas Stories
Shakespeare - Literature - Faith - Biography
Don't have an ereader? Not a problem! Really. There are many ereaders available online to download onto your computer for free. Kindle, Nook, Calibre, Sony Reader, and Mobipocket Reader are a few that come to mind. You do not have to be online to read from them either.
**IMPORTANT: these are not compatible with Kindle APP on an iPad or an iPhone (or any other type of smart phone), since Amazon currently provides no way to import files into its APP, unless they are purchased in their store.

With the downloads you also get a pdf Guide to Ereader Devices and Software. It helps understand the pros and cons of various ereaders. As you can see from my screenshot below of my desktop- I have a few ereaders -all free! The guide was very helpful even though I already have experience with PC ereaders and two physical ereaders. They even gave me at least one more ereader that I didn't know about!
But enough about ME. 

Wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to have an extended library that doesn't take up a lot of space? This is the perfect way to do that. What kinds of books will you find at Yesterday's Classics?

Books that:
  • Incorporate text of high literary quality
  • Use story to engage the reader
  • Cultivate the moral imagination
  • Awaken an interest in the out of doors
  • Furnish heroes worthy of emulation
  • Stimulate powers of observation (from the website)
As I mentioned earlier, quite a few of the books suggested in the Ambleside Online curriculum are ones that can be found through Yesterday's Classics. Along with Ambleside Online, other curriculums such as Heart of Dakota, Living Books Curriculum and Tapestry of Grace make use of the titles available at Yesterday's Classics.

Along with the files for the ereader of your choice, you also receive pdfs of:
  • Book descriptions of all 225 titles
  • Guide to Downloading Files (very helpful!)
  • List of YC ebooks (this is immensely helpful in sorting your books)
    • separated by Level, Genre, Author, Title
And once these books are downloaded, they are yours to move around as you please. I started with them on my computer simply because I didn't have the time right away to drop them into the Kindle or the Bookeen. I was still able to read them on the PC easily. Once I was ready to put them on the ereaders, it was super easy. You can even print with some ereaders (which I cannot do with my Kindle but can with Calibre!).

Yesterday's Classics offer great books that are high quality (in printing and content) and at great prices. The fact that they now offer they books in ebook format is it just wonderful. You can see an entire list of books that are available for download here (for the Kindle) and here (for EPUB) (they are the same list).

Something that I have to mention- it is very important. These books are in the public domain and can be found for FREE online. Why would you want to buy this collection if you can find these for free?
I have a few reasons:
  1. Quality
  2. Illustrations
  3. Table of Contents (linked!)
  4. All in one place
Because I like to save money (free is wonderful), I have compiled many lists of books, and locations to find these free books, that we use in our homeschool and general. The largest problem that I find with the free books is the quality is not that good. The saying, "you get what you pay for", is often true! The free books are sometimes scans (that can have fingers scanned in with the page, or the page was inadvertently moved while scanning) or digitized from a scan (it turns the photo into text which often results in very strange characters placed throughout the reading). The next problem is that there is rarely illustrations or a table of contents. The lack of illustrations is just frustrating to me. If a book had illustrations, the ebook should also. Sometimes there is a table of contents but it is not linked and so it makes it somewhat more difficult to maneuver through the book. And finally, these books are all in one place; someone else has done the 'foot work' already!

Another thing I should definitely mention: Some of these books were written over one hundred years ago, with the most recent maybe 80 years ago. The science, terminology, ideals and way of life was very different. I find it to be great for discussions with my children how things have changed.

I took a few photos of my two ereaders in action with Yesterday's Classics ebooks on them to show the quality and down-right awesomeness of it all! Click to enlarge (use back arrow on browser to come back).

compatible with most ereaders (excluding Kindle)
-my library on the Bookeen; not all books shown are YC titles 
This is Famous Men of Greece by John H. Haaren, Table of Contents (linked!)

compatible ONLY with Kindle
-The Sciences by Edward S. Holden (beautiful illustrations!)

-some of my Literature Collection (not all are YC titles)

-Stories of Beowulf Told to the Children by H. E. Marshall (check the illustration)

And screenshots of reading on my Kindle for PC (I change the background to sepia because the computer's backlighting irritates my eyes after awhile)

For use in our homeschool, especially when there is a book that we all do together, it is super helpful to have the book on both ereaders, and the computer (and/or in the case of History of English Literature for Boys and Girls, in print) so that we can all have a copy to read from. 

I may not even need to say it but I think this is absolutely wonderful. If you are the kind of individual that loves to read, wants your children to be able to read classics, enjoys ereaders, loves a great deal, wants to add to your library, or use Ambleside Online (or any of the other curriculums that adopt the titles offered by Yesterday's Classics) in homeschooling, perhaps travel often and cannot lug around boxes of books, I really think this is a great deal for you. The quality of the ebooks is great. The customer service from Yesterday's Classic is superb. The titles offered are wonderful classics.

In trying to think of something that would be a drawback or a con, I have a difficult time. If books are important in your life- this is a great bargain. But if you dislike technology, well this possibly wouldn't work well for you. Or if you are objectionable to some older terminology in the books, you may be leery of this deal. 
But overall, great deal, great opportunity. Wonderful!

Interested to hear what others had to say about this? Hop over to the TOS Homeschool Crew blog and have a look!

**Disclaimer: I received downloads of these ebooks from Yesterday's Classics via TOS Homeschool Crew in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review; all opinions stated are my own. See Disclosure/Policies.**


  1. Thank you for this info! If nothing else, you are making me think more seriously to making the switch from paper to digital even for my little kids.

  2. Excellent review! I love your Books That section. I had such a hard time staying focused on this - so many ways to go! What's that? You say you like the Kindle? Huh. Had no idea. ;)


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