Who Sold a Million Books a Year?


Any modern author would be thrilled to sell a million books. I am forever thrilled that I sold 3-1/2 million copies of my book, “A Choice Not An Echo,” in 1964. That was the book that launched the conservative movement because it described the shenanigans of the so-called Kingmakers who were dictating our nominees for U.S. President. But we are all outpaced by William McGuffey who sold a million copies a year for 100 years of his McGuffey Readers. Generations of schoolchildren read them, making them some of the most influential books of all time. William McGuffey, who died on May 4, 1873, was a professor at the University of Virginia, and then president of Ohio University, and he obviously understood how to teach small children to read and to get them reading age-appropriate stories that taught good morals, good manners, and good lessons about American history. The McGuffey Readers became the mainstay of American education for generations.

In the foreword of McGuffey’s Reader published in 1836, McGuffey wrote: “The Christian religion is the religion of our country. From it are derived our prevalent notions of the character of God, the great moral Governor of the universe. On its doctrines are founded the peculiarities of our free institutions.” In McGuffey’s 5th Reader, published in 1879, McGuffey included a lesson by William Ellery Channing entitled “Religion: The only Basis of Society.” How powerless conscience would become without the belief of a God. Erase all thought and fear of God from a community, and selfishness and sensuality would absorb the whole man. … Man would become what the theory of atheism declares him to be.”

It is so unfortunate that wholesome stories that teach good moral lessons are no longer taught in our public schools.

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Contributing Editor, Phyllis Schlafly, is the Founder and President of Eagle Forum, a national radio show host, and a best-selling author.

Used with the permission of Eagle Forum.