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American Primers and Readers

Featuring the Words and Collection of Richard L. Venezky

An online exhibition of the Cubberley Education Library, Stanford University

The Dick and Jane Series

Overview of Dick and Jane exhibit case
Detail of upper left section of exhibit case Detail of two pages from a Dick and Jane Primer

"The final steps in the formation of the modern reading series came in the 1920s and 1930s as more books were added to the typical series and as stricter controls over vocabulary and syntax were adopted into the reading selections, particularly in the lowest reading levels. The Dick and Jane series, issued by Scott, Foresman & Co., in the 1930s, was responsible for many of these changes and remains today as the proto-typic American reading program of the 20th century. Its popularity in the grade schools through the 1930s and 1940s rivaled that of The New England Primer and the McGuffey readers in their times and its impact on the industry was just as great" (Venezky, 1990b, p. xxiii).

Detail of lower right section of exhibit case

"Further revisions were done on the series into the 1960s, including ethnic integration into what had been strictly white, middle-class environments in the stories and copies continued to be sold in the 1970s from warehouse stock" (Venezky, 1990b, p. xxiv).

Detail of lower left section of exhibit case Detail of the "Food for Thought" lesson in the Ventures textbook

Ventures. 1965. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman.

Detail of cover of the Think and Do Book

Gray, William S. 1951. The new basic readers, Workbook 2:1. Chicago: Scott, Foresman.

Detail from Dick and Jane book

Gray, William S. 1951. The new basic reader. Chicago : Scott, Foresman.


Detail of student version of "Little Bear and the Honey"

Gray, William S. 1956. The new basic readers. Chicago : Scott, Foresman.

Detail of teacher's version of "Little Bear and the Honey"

Gray, William S. 1951. The new basic reader. Chicago : Scott, Foresman.

(Teachers' manual for The New Basic Reader, pictured at left.)