Before Austen Comes Aesop presents an in-depth examination of the Children's Great Books, that is, the literature that has made the most profound impact on the lives of children throughout Western history. In addition to its invaluable chronological list of titles, from ancient times to the present, the book provides both students and their parents the guidance they need to read leisurely or study formally the Children's Great Books at home.
The book's premise is that children often do not spend enough time with the literature written or adapted for them before diving into adult works. An experienced teacher, the author argues that children benefit in many ways from lingering longer over literature created for them.
The Children's Great Books list includes the classic works that, while not written strictly for children, were orally passed on to them for generations and are foundational for understanding Western culture. These works include Greek and Roman fables, myths, and epics; European legends, sagas, folk stories, and fairy tales; and the Bible. The list also includes the acclaimed works written specifically for children, beginning in the age of the first printing presses and continuing into the late twentieth century.
Additionally, acknowledging the changes in children's literature that have occurred since the mid-1960s, the author provides helpful information for discerning which contemporary influential books are appropriate, or perhaps inappropriate, for one's children. She also includes several appendices that are useful for the study of literature at both the elementary and the secondary levels.