Red/Gold 1988 World Book Encyclopedia Set (60 volumes), Including the Year in Review, and Science, Supplements (through 2007)
In 1953, when I was eight (8), my parents bought a blue World Book set. Through the next 10 years of my schooling and life in Cincinnati, I was privileged to use this set. I shared this privilege with my older brother, Ed. I remember using the books to resolve disputes in the midst of our family discussions at dinner. (Think of this as an old fashioned “Googling.”) And, of course, I used the set to look up information for my school assignments. I remember my fascination with maps of foreign lands, photos and descriptions of unusual plants and animals, and my curiosity about topics like historical figures, the solar system, the ocean and different cultures. The set remained with my mother in our family home until she moved into a retirement home in the early 1990’s. When I returned to Cincinnati to visit my parents, and then later just my mother, I would sometimes browse through topics. In a very real way this was a “portal to the world” and served to remind and challenge me that there was always more to learn.
The set did have supplements which were sold separately each year. It was fun to see what changed each year from the original articles. Eventually my parents stopped purchasing the supplements. Although my mother’s set was “dated,” it remained on the bookshelf in our living room adding a sleek uniform size and (blue) color. Interestingly, my brother still has that set on his bookshelf in his home in Houston. A lot of its factual content has not changed.
My first child was born in 1982 in Freeport, Maine. Not much later, my husband and I began to think about acquiring a World Book set for our family. As I knew from my parents’ investment in their 1953 World Book set, this would not be an inexpensive venture. However, I viewed it as something of long term value for us all. We were encouraged to make this purchase by the sister of a friend who was selling sets. She approached us with the idea of our buying a children’s version, but given the initial expense it seemed to be a better investment to go with the adult version. So we launched our son, and later our daughter, into seeing this set of red books as a go-to source of knowledge. As the set expanded over the years to fill over one and a half shelves, it also added a sleek uniform size and (red) color to our living room. In 2007 our daughter graduated from high school, and we stopped purchasing the supplements. By that time of course, the internet was taking off and our aging World Book was losing monetary value.
But so much of the content of this set remains valid. I have continued to enjoy looking up topics, spreading the pages apart, reading the well-written, plain text, checking out the color photos, charts, or data accompanying the article, and sometimes being directed to follow up information in one of the supplements. And, I continued to share nuggets of information gleaned from the books with my husband, again often at our dinner table.