Oscar’s Gift Reading Guide: Day 3
The Youth’s Companion
Scroll to the end for a writing prompt.
“Page after page—twelve pages in all—were filled with stories, some made up and some true. There was a photograph of President Teddy Roosevelt with his bushy mustache and wire-rim glasses. There was news about Russia and the Trans-Siberian Railway. A section called ‘Nature and Science’ told of a German expedition to the South Pole, and described something called a cyclograph, ‘an instrument by means of which a bicyclist may make an automatic chart of his course through an unknown country.'” ~ Oscar’s Gift: Planting Words with Oscar Micheaux
In chapter 2 of Oscar’s Gift, “Birthday Surprise,” Tomas’s teacher gives him a copy of The Youth’s Companion, a children’s magazine published from 1827 until 1929, when it merged with The American Boy. By the time Tomas would have read it, the publication was billed as a family publication as much geared to adults as to children. Some of its contributors included Theodore Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, William James, Willa Cather, O. Henry, Mark Twain, Winston Churchill, Jack London, Francis Scott Key, and Emily Dickinson. Earl Stanley Gardner enjoyed the publication so much as a child that he later borrowed from the name of the publishing company, the Perry Mason Company, for his famous detective (“The Youth’s Companion,” by Paulette D. Kilmer, in Encyclopedia of American Journalism, ed. Stephen Vaughn, Routledge, 2007, p. 610).
The Youth’s Companion Project website offers digital reproductions of several full issues of The Youth’s Companion. Here you can read the August 18, 1904 issue that Tomas receives, along with all of the stories, articles, and advertisements.
Writing Prompt: Browse a few issues and articles at The Youth’s Companion Project or Pat Pflieger’s site devoted to 19th century American print culture. Write an article or story in the style of the publication. Young writers may enjoy creating their own magazine issue filled with short stories, poems, current events, and even advertisements.
Click HERE for the full Reading Guide.