American educators, politicians, and parents have been fighting for a long time over the best way to teach children how to read. William McGuffey's phonics-based primers, which emphasized the sounding out of words by learning letter-sound associations, dominated American primary education from the middle of the c19 until the early c During the Progressive Era, some educators and social scientists began to believe that McGuffey's moralizing texts were too complex for young readers, and they argued for a simpler approach, one that used a carefully limited vocabulary and story lines that were more relevant to the lives of contemporary children. In particular, illustrator Zerna Sharp worked with the Scott, Foresman publishing company and with William Gray to devise a series of basic primers that would include his suggestions.
Meet The ‘Dick And Jane’ Books That Taught An Entire Generation How To Read
Dick and Janefirst reading books
Dick and Jane are the two main characters created by Zerna Sharp for a series of basal readers written by William S. Gray to teach children to read. The characters first appeared in the Elson-Gray Readers in and continued in a subsequent series of books through the final version in These readers were used in classrooms in the United States and in other English-speaking countries for nearly four decades, reaching the height of their popularity in the s, when 80 percent of first-grade students in the United States used them. Although the Dick and Jane series of primers continued to be sold until and remained in use in some classrooms throughout the s, they were replaced with other reading texts by the s and gradually disappeared from school curricula. The Dick and Jane series were known for their simple narrative text and watercolor illustrations.
Dick and Jane Series
So many phonics-based readers were incredibly boring and my kids do not respond well to boring. Back when I went to elementary school Dick and Jane books were used. I loved those books and read them multiple times for fun. Apparently, they used the look-say method where sight words are emphasized.
Dick and Jane books are among the most popularly collected school books. This is because the series of books was used for over 40 years in American schools. Gray, a renowned educational psychologist and reading authority from the University of Chicago, and pitched to him her philosophy that children are more receptive to reading if the books contained illustrations related to them and their lives. Gray was impressed enough to hire Sharp.