A Most inspirational Lighthouse Book for Youngsters

by CruiseReady

Young children can learn valuable lessons from books about lighthouses for kids. The Little Red Lighthouse is one such book, perhaps the very best one ever.

Lighthouses! Little ones, once they find out what a light is (or was) seem to love them. Lighthouses are a seemingly romantic reminder the heroics and self-sacrifice of figures from the distant past.

But there are a lot of lessons for today's children in the stories of lighthouses. (Adults, too, I think!) Lessons about things like dedication, safe harbors, beacons of hope...

Stories about lighthouses are a good medium through which those lessons can be learned. One such story, and a very special one for children, is the one about The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge.

Just why is this particular story for children so special? There are a couple of reasons. But, one is that this particular tower was once slated for demolition. But it was saved – in large part because of the efforts of the children who loved it.

Image: By Gigi alt (Own work) CC BY-SA 3.0

We Almost Lost the Little Red Lighthouise

But CHILDREN made a Difference and Helped Save it
Jeffrey's Hook Lighthouise
Jeffrey's Hook Lighthouise

The Little Red Lighthouse Stands Under the Great Gray Bridge

This Lighthouse Story has a Happy Ending

 "The Little Red Lighthouse"  stands under the Great Gray Bridge

Built:  1880        Height: 40 feet

Moved to Jeffrey's Hook:  1921

Decommissioned: 1947

Still Standing!

(Thanks to the efforts of lots of kids)

The Jeffrey's Hook Light was the beacon that guided ships and boats past the dangerous rocky shore on the side of the narrow New York / New Jersey channel, from 1921 to 1931.

In 1931, the mammoth George Washington Bridge opened, with a top light that was so much higher and brighter that the lighthouse suddenly seemed a useless relic of the past.  So, it was decommissioned in 1947. 

The Little Red Lighthouse had been abandoned!  In 1951, it was even ordered torn down, and sold for scrap.    An d then . . .


But, guess what?  A miracle happened.  Hundreds and hundreds of children rallied.  Did they cry and stamp their feet?  No, for that would have accomplished nothing.  They wrote letters and encouraged others to do the same.  Some even sent money in with the letters to help create a 'save the lighthouse' fund.  Their voices were heard!  They helped save the lighthouse from the scrappers.

Six decades later, that lighthouse still stands, thanks to those kids.  

The children had learned an important lesson from the pages of the storybook called The Little Red Lighthouse - a storybook about that very same structure they helped to save.

 As a result of their efforts, the Coast Guard did NOT demolish the structure.  Instead, they presented the Jeffrey’s Hook Light  to the City of New York in July of that year.


The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge

Written by Hildegarde H. Swift and illustrated by Lynd Ward

If a small child owns just one book about lighthouses, this is the one it should be.  

Grandparents and great grandparents may remember being captivated by the story of The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge when Captain Kangaroo read it on television.  I certainly was!

New generations of youngsters continue to enjoy this tale of the lighthouse who once had an important job to do, but was made to feel small and insignificant. Written in 1942 it still speaks in a language they can understand, expressing feelings they can relate to, and uplifting with an ending that inspires. 

Children really "get" this book.

Hildegarde Swift's Classic Story

Still Captivates Children Today
The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge


Adults who remember the tale fondly will be comforted to know that when they purchase a copy for their child, a portion of the sale proceeds will be donated to Jeffrey’s Hook Lighthouse funds. 

Do a child you love a favor and get them a copy of

 The Little Red Lighthouse and the Great Gray Bridge

Children Pay a Visit to the Famous Landmark

at Ft. Washington Park

While the real Little Red Lighthouse no longer guides ships and boats safely around dangerous rocks, it still stands, and inspires a new generation of children.  

It's a pretty big structure if you're a child, but it looks oh, so small next to that giant of a bridge, doesn't it?
Children still enjoy visiting it today, as you can see in this video.

Have You Visited the Little Red Lighthouse?

Or would you like to?
  Display results
Thank you for answering!

Lighthouse Keeper - a Very Important Job

But It Could Also Be a Very Lonely One

Long ago, the job of a lighthouse keeper was to 'keep the light on, no matter what.'  The lights were saving lives, because they were warning people in ships at sea or on rivers and large lakes that their vessels were approaching dangerous waters with rocks, shoals or other hazards. 

Lighthouses, or beacons for sailors have existed for hundreds and hundreds of years.  At first the lights were bonfires. Later, candles, whale oil, and other fuels, like kerosene were used.   

The lighthouse keeper HAD to keep that beacon glowing all night, every single night, without fail, and during all kinds of weather.  The safety of ships and the lives of all aboard depended on him to do just that!

Those lights had to be where the danger was.  Often, that was far from the nearest town.   So, the lighthouse keeper lived there - all alone, or with his family.  The keeper and his family could go weeks or months with no one to talk to but themselves.


A Happy Ending

Since 1979, Jeffrey's Hook Lighthouse is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Free Lighthouse Activity Pages for Kids

Crafts, Coloring Pages, Puzzles and Games abut Lighthouses
  • Lighthouse Fun Pages

    Lighthouse puzzles, games and learning activities from the Chespeake Chapter of the U.S. Lighthouse Society

  • How to Make a Paper Lighthouse

    Directions for a fun craft activity, from The Learning Channel.

  • A Pretty Tough Quiz

    This one's for kids (and adults) who really know their stuff when it comes to lighthouses.

  • Printable Coloring Pages

    Scroll down the page to find a half dozen or so lighthouse drawings that you can print out for coloring.

More Pages about Lighthouses

Lighthouse Jigsaw Puzzles for everyone from tots to grannies. Find out why puzzles are good for you and learn some cool lighthouse facts, including which is the tallest in the U.S.
You may not have your very own lighthouse to decorate for the holidays, but you can decorate with lighthouses. Features: Story of the Seul Choix Light and the art of Brenda Tnour.
Pictures and brief histories of five different American Lighthouses from five different states, some familiar, and some less so. Where you can get beverage coasters of each one..
Updated: 07/21/2016, CruiseReady
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Have you read the story of the Little Red Lighthouse to your children or grandchildren?

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DerdriuMarriner on 09/11/2017

CruiseReady, It's unfortunate that more is not known about those who lived in the Little Red Lighthouse during its operational years. The Little Engine That Could, The Little Red Lighthouse and The Velveteen Rabbit never lose their appeal.

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