The American Boy’s Handy Book: What to Do and How to Do It – Item of the Day

Every day I bring you an item on Amazon that I personally use or has been purchased by many members of the audience and I have researched enough to recommend.

Today’s TSP Amazon Item of the day is the book, The American Boy’s Handy Book: What to Do and How to Do It.  This book was published first in 1882 and of course that is long before the days of every kid getting a trophy and wrapping a child in bubble wrap before he could ride on a swing.

In other words it is about the real world and the real things that real boys like to do especially in the out doors.  Translation the Politically Correct and the Safety Police will loose their minds over it, that alone means it should be on your book shelf and in your kids hands.

I first leaned about this book many years ago, I would say about 1997 from my late friend named Kurt Knothnagle whom I worked at Lockheed with.  He actually had a very worn but quite readable original copy.  I was fascinated by it and tried to buy it off him but he had no interest in selling it.

Later I learned that this book had become a public domain book no longer protected by copyright it was released as a reprint.  I of course picked up a copy as soon as I learned it was available.

This book is both cool for the things it explains how to do like making a sling bow with a sapling and shooting it more like a spear gun than say a typical bow.  What is more interesting to me is the attitude people had at the time.  We are talking about a book that teaches kids to make hot air balloons using real fire for instance or how to trap an animal, kill it and mount it with taxidermy and apparently everyone was okay with it.

I really recommend this book to read with your boys and frankly your girls too, though there is also a book called, “The American Girls Handy Book” which I haven’t read but will be getting a copy for my granddaughter as she grows up.

So if you have kids in your life be they your own children, your grand kids, nephews, nieces etc, consider getting The American Boys Handy Book and spending time reading it and helping them actually pull off a few of the projects in it.

Remember you can always find the TSP Amazon Item of the day by just going to and by shopping at anytime you shop on Amazon you help support TSP and the work we do here no matter what you buy.

P.S. – DO NOT BUY THE KINDLE VERSION OF THIS BOOK.  It apparently has horrible formatting problems.  If you read the negative reviews you will see they all focus on this issue rather than the content of the book.


5 Responses to The American Boy’s Handy Book: What to Do and How to Do It – Item of the Day

  1. Got this book for my son when he was much younger, and am so happy that I did. If I had known there was one specifically for girls I probably would have gotten it, but my daughter, my son and I *all* enjoyed it.

    HIGHLY recommended (also for adults).

  2. Loved this book as a 11-15 year old!
    Had borrowed a friend’s copy at recess a couple times and liked it. Fast forward to summer vacation and a trip to Cabela’s in Owatonna, MN. Saw it on the rack and begged my mom to let me buy it with birthday money. By the time we made it out to the car I had worn her down enough that she let me go back in and buy it….but I had to hurry “because dad wants to leave!” One of the only times I ever had any luck wearing my mom down at anything.

    20 years later, I still have this book and still look through it from time to time. Some of the projects are a bit dated due to technological advances in the last 100+ years (I bought all my aquariums as a kid rather than using the plans in this book to make one) but some of the principles can still be applied today.

    And while I don’t support/endorse the “tea-cupping” of our children, I’ll point out this book may include some hazardous activities…like building a log raft and cruising down the river with a friend, which works out great til you get to the first Corp of Engineers dam and you realize it takes a couple miles to steer yourself back to the shore.
    If nothing else it can be used as a good history lesson regarding how kids spent their free time before video games.

    I thoroughly recommend getting a copy for any kid whether they’re physically young or still young at heart.

  3. Tony Coutts

    Great choice…any of Dan Beard’s books are well-worth reading, even if only to see what was possible in an age of self-reliance. “Shelters, Shacks and Shanties” is another I have on my shelf. In fact, any of the Dover Publication reprints are worth looking at if you want books on the basics referred to in the saying “getting back to basics”!

  4. Jack…buy the granddaughter both….as a girl, the boy version really looks like more fun! 🙂

  5. I got the book and reviewed it by skimming through.

    I found the projects in this book somewhat archaic and it seems to me my boy scout book from 1983 would habe more useful projects for my son’s. I appreciate the history of it, but unless my son (He’s 7) picks it up in a few years and can appreciate it, for me, it was a wastes purchase.

    This is the only product you have reviewed that I don’t like. Keep up the good work Jack.