Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Excerpts from Elson-Gray's Primer & Book One Readers, 1930 editions (flickr link)

Please follow this link to my flickr set:
'Excerpts from Elson-Gray's Primer & Book One Readers, 1930 editions'

(54 images)

I've posted some images from the first set of beginning reader textbooks that introduced the characters 'Dick and Jane', who - - for better or worse
- - would influence a generation.

Basal readers like the Elson-Gray series were considered 'state-of-the-art' educational tools once upon a time, and they received wide use in American schools for several decades.

Eventually their typical neglect of phonics, coupled with an unnatural narrative structure would turn popular opinion, and they were deemed to be an inferior method for teaching reading skills.

Flawed? Perhaps...
...Clichéd over time?
Most definitely - - but nevertheless, the scenario and structure propagated by
William H. Elson and
William S. Gray became an archetype.

There's a dearth of info available about the various illustrators for these 1930 editions.
Anything you can share on that subject is much appreciated. Please leave a comment or drop an e-mail.

Please follow this link to my flickr set:
'Excerpts from Elson-Gray's Primer & Book One Readers, 1930 editions'
(54 images)


Anonymous said...

Wow, I can't believe you have these! I have a lot of these readers, from the primer through the upper elementary grades. My father used them in grade school. My mom found copies of them at some point and when my kids were little, he used to read them the stories.

Dad has Alzheimer's, and for a long time, these books were among the few things he could enjoy (along with Archie comics and books of vintage comic strips like Little Nemo). He liked to just sit and look at the pictures, and he remembered the stories from when he was a kid. I still bring the books into the nursing home sometimes, but it's hard for him to focus on them now.

I noticed the wonderful illustrations, and I believe many are signed or initialed. I would also like to know more about the artists—and the writers. Thank you for sharing these!

The In Crowd said...

Brigid - - Thanks so much for your comments.

I always enjoy hearing people's stories about material like this that can so often enter into 'family folklore'.

Best to you and your Dad.

LaVonne said...

What a find! Most of the Dick and Jane books I've seen are from the 1950s. Nice to see these older images.

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