If you are among the many of us bemoaning today’s sad state of Family Values (which might include children texting at the dinner table), than here’s a great way to brush up on parenting skills. Re-read the classic-We-Are-Family-children’s-book, Johann David Wyss’ The Swiss Family Robinson.
Here is the First Edition hardcover we just sold. Our book has a somewhat longer title: The Swiss Family Robinson or the Adventures of a Shipwrecked Family on an Uninhabited Island Near New Guinea. It was published in 1898 by the now-defunct firm, Dewolfe, Fiske & Co. Unlike other antique Robinson editions, this one features lovely color illustrations to enhance it. (This one is even scary!)
Although our book is 115 years old, its contents are still quite relevant, especially where it concerns self-reliance, perseverance and courage. These are skills best learned as children within the family, as they were learned by the four young Robinsons in the book.
While the so-called “reality” TV show, Survivor, might have taught those of us who watched it (out of desperation, really) a lot about what it takes to survive in a jungle, it did nothing to showcase the virtues of succeeding through cooperation, trust, even bonding, as families do.
When Wyss first published his book in 1812, he was undoubtedly a proponent of the theory that family members who work together can thrive, even under the most dire circumstances, like being marooned on an island.
This enduring classic and/or the Disney movie version can be a great re-boot when it comes to assessing the skills you want to teach your children (, i.e., missing a Taylor Swift concert does not count as a dire circumstance). Some antique books have messages that stretch way beyond their publication date.
This is one of those books.