Another Column at MyShelf.Com

Babe To Teens, Past
A YOuth Column
By Beverly Rowe



In 1833, the small publishing company of Truman and Smith became interested in producing school texts. They began scouting for an eminent educator who could create a series of readers and happened upon Rev. William Holmes McGuffey.

(Read an Excerpt: McGuffey's(r) First Eclectic Reader, Revised Edition )

Rev. McGuffey's first reader of 1841 introduces children to McGuffey's ethical code. The child modeled in this book is prompt, good, kind, honest and truthful. This first book contained fifty-five lessons that were very moralistic in tone, and of course, presented the White, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant as the model American.

Well, McGuffey was before our reading experience started with "Fun With Dick and Jane." Scott Foresman Publishing Company developed the best loved Dick and Jane readers, and they were a staple of American education from the 1930s through the 1960s Certainly they were a step up in interest level. They did the job of teaching children to read, but the story line was still boring, and idealized.

In the images below, Dick and Jane delight in their dog Spot's adventure with a frog, while the pictures encourage young readers to fill in the plot line.

(Image source: Fun with Dick and Jane: A Commemorative Collection of Stories. San Francisco: Collins Publishers, 1996.)

Then, along came Theodor Seuss Geisel, and changed the way children learn to read and challenged parent's and grandparent's read-aloud skills. My tongue certainly stumbled over some of his newly invented words and the catchy rhymes.

The Cat in the Hat, is perhaps the defining book of Dr. Seuss' career, developed as part of a unique joint venture between Houghton Mifflin and Random House. Ted was asked to write and illustrate a children's primer using only 225 "new-reader" vocabulary words, and history was made. Ted became the definitive children's book author and illustrator.

At the time of his death on September 24, 1991, Ted had written and illustrated 44 children's books, including such all-time favorite beginner books as Green Eggs and Ham, and Hop on Pop, and the all time favorite, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. His books have been translated into more than 15 languages with over 200 million copies that have found their way into our homes and hearts. He has certainly influenced all of us with his humor and rhyme....Seuss books are just plain fun.

Check out this link for great games: Seussville Games

To honor the great Dr. Seuss and the tradition of outstanding reading for kids,  the Theodore Geisel book award is given to the author and illustrator of a beginning reader book that shows great creativity and imagination.  This year the award winner is Henry and Mudge and the Great Grandpas, written by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Sucie Stevenson.  Henry and Mudge have already gained a great fan following among the just-learning-to-read crowd.
Four other books were selected as Geisel Honor Books:

Hi, Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold. This book is about a fly that goes from pest to pet and with the quirky iridescent cover to the lively story this one is a sure-fire kid pleaser.

A Splendid Friend, Indeed by Suzanne Bloom tells of a silly goose and his friend Bear, who just wants to be left alone to read.

Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Erica Silverman and illustrated by Betsy Lewin is about a girl and her horse who is always hungry. Number one in a series...

(Read an Excerpt)

And finally: Amanda Pig and the Really Hot Day by Jean Van Leeuwen and illustrated by Ann Schweninger.  Amanda learns how to stay cool and find fun on a hot summer day.

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