A Present for the Young. New York: D. Waugh and T. Mason for the Sunday School Union of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 1833.
This wonderfully detailed hand-colored wood engraving is the frontispiece to A Present for the Young and illustrates the role of the family as the epicenter of literacy and civilization. Note the family gathered around the hearthside table; the painting on the wall, and the piano (with sheet music) neatly tucked into the corner. Literacy underlies the family’s activities: the father sits at the table over what appears to be a pamphlet (perhaps a periodical), and is engaged in speaking to his older daughter on the left; likewise, the mother is engaged in speaking to two children about a book in her hand, while another child is seated near the fireside engrossed in her own book. The youngest child excitedly points to the father’s reading, emphasizing the importance of reading, be it aloud or to oneself, in family life.