Traditional Values

Moral Tales for Children From McGuffey’s Readers: The Quarrel

BY Epoch Inspired Staff TIMEMay 7, 2022 PRINT

This is the first instalment in our McGuffey Readers series, in which we reproduce some of the best moral tales from the classic 1800s schoolbooks that sold an estimated 122 million copies by 1960, the largest circulation of any book in the world next to the Bible and Webster’s Dictionary. McGuffey’s Readers played an important role in American history, offering children not only lessons in reading, grammar, and spelling, but also in moral conduct and character. Enjoy, and share with your children! 

The Quarrel

Under a great tree in the woods, two boys saw a fine, large nut, and both ran to get it.

James got to it first, and picked it up.

“It is mine,” said John, “for I was the first to see it.”

“No, it is mine” said James, “for I was the first to pick it up.”

Thus, they at once began to quarrel about the nut.

As they could not agree whose it should be, they called an older boy, and asked him.

Epoch Times Photo
Illustration of “The Quarrel,” from “McGuffey’s Second Eclectic Reader, Revised Edition,” 1879. (Public Domain)

The older boy said, “I will settle this quarrel.”

He took the nut, and broke the shell. He then took out the kernel, and divided the shell into two parts, as nearly equal
as he could.

“This half of the shell,” said he, “belongs to the boy who first saw the nut.

“And this half belongs to the boy who picked it up.

“The kernel of the nut, I shall keep as my pay for settling the quarrel.

“This is the way,” said he, laughing, “in which quarrels are very apt to end.”

This story is reproduced from McGuffey’s Second Eclectic Reader, Revised Edition, published in 1879.

The McGuffey Readers, first published in the 1830s, were a series of illustrated readers for elementary schoolchildren written by U. S. educator and clergyman William Holmes McGuffey (1800–1873). They were widely used as textbooks in U.S. schools from the mid-1800s up until the early 20th century. They are still used by some schools today, especially homeschools focused on nurturing and raising children with a classical education and moral character development. 

Epoch Inspired staff cover stories of hope that celebrate kindness, traditions, and triumph of the human spirit, offering valuable insights into life, culture, family and community, and nature.
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