Robinson Crusoe Told to the Children - John Lang

The Story of Robinson Crusoe was one of the first widely read novels in the English language, and it follows the adventures of an Englishman stranded on a remote Island in the Caribbean for almost thirty years. The original book is philosophical as well as an adventure story, but the underlying story is of utmost interest, especially to imaginative boys. This rendition is a very well done simplification suitable for grammar school age students.

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[Cover] from Stories from Robinson Crusoe  by John Lang


[Title Page] from Stories from Robinson Crusoe  by John Lang

My Dear Alec,

When Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe, nearly two hundred years ago, boys had more time on their hands, fewer books and fewer games than they have now, and they, as well as their fathers, read it and loved it. And when your father and I were boys—though that is rather less than two hundred years ago—we too used often to read it.

But boys nowadays do not seem to read Robinson Crusoe as they used to do. It is too long, they think, and there is much in it that they have not time to read. That is why I have written here, in as few words as possible, the tale of Robinson's twenty-eight years in his Island, and I hope that you, and other boys, will like it.

The sea that lay round Robinson's island is not like the one you know, nor like the grey North Sea, stormy and cold; hut it is blue like a sapphire, and where the rollers break in white foam on the coral reefs it seems as if it were edged with pearls. On the shores of the islands, cocoa-nut palms wave their feathery fronds in the breeze; butterflies of wondrous colours hover about; and in and out amongst the thick-leaved trees clash birds, chattering and screaming, all crimson and blue and yellow and green.

Often there are snakes too, and it was lucky that no snakes on Robinson's island troubled him. For on some islands that I have seen there are snakes—black and white, the most poisonous of them—that swim about in the sea and come up on the beach, and you have to be careful that you do not sit down on the top of one, for they are not always very quick at getting out of the way.

When you are a man, perhaps someday you will go to one of those tropical islands, And if you take a boat and row out to the inside of the reef of Coral that lies round the island, and put your face close down, and look through the quiet, crystal dear water, you will know what Fairyland beneath the sea is like. You will find there gardens of a beauty never seen on land, only the branches of the trees are of coral, and in and out amongst them, instead of bright-coloured birds, you will see fishes swimming, some of a vivid yellow and black, others blue as the sky. That is where the mermaids used to play, when the world was younger than it is now.

Affectionately yours,

[Contents] from Stories from Robinson Crusoe  by John Lang
[List of Pictures] from Stories from Robinson Crusoe  by John Lang