Oh, if only this discovery were mine! A friend of mine found a complete set of red-bound books for children in the trash. Yes, the trash. They didn't even bother to recycle!
But lucky for her that they didn't, as what she has is a set of books called The Bookshelf for Boys and Girls. Some quick Internet research turned up a site called Big Red Toy Box: The Vintage Toy Encyclopedia which has a nice entry on these books. They contain stories, history, excerpts from classic novels (I am not a fan of excerpts but still...), folk tales, fairy tales, "stories form other lands," books on nature and science, art and music, instructions for making things and all sorts of ephemera. Apparently the sets were reissued every decade or so starting in 1920. They are utterly fascinating. I didn't get nearly enough time to take a look at them but we borrowed Volume 5: Things to Make and Things to Do for my crafty almost-7-year-old. I would especially love to get a look at Volume 10: The Manual for Child Development and see how thinking on that front has changed.
I may have to purchase one or two for myself, since it is unlikely that someone else will be discarding a complete set right where I can find it!
I didn't read these books as a child, though. Did you?