This experience caused me to think about the type of reading that we did at primary school in the 1950s.
In those days I was not able to start school until I was almost six which meant that I had to wait for the mid-year intake as my birthday was in July and the cut off date for starting at the beginning of the year was 30 June. I had been attending kindergarten since I was three and all I wanted to do was go to school and learn to read.
Our first reader was John and Betty which many of us remember with affection. However I quickly learned to read 'This is John'. 'This is Betty'. etc and I am not aware of any additional reading material, except, perhaps flash cards during my first months at school. John and Betty was first published in 1951.
In Grade 1 our reader was Playmates. This was the only reader that we had for the year. Like John and Betty it was illustrated by Marjorie Howden but it was a more substantial book being 72 pages. The subtitle was the Victorian Readers First Book and it was first published in 1952.
By Grade 2 we had graduated to the school reader entitled Holidays: the Victorian Readers Second Book. This reader was again illustrated by Marjorie Howden and was 104 pages. As to be expected there is more writing on the pages. Holidays was first published in 1953.
|Example of a School Paper|
There was no public library in our area in the 1950s and definitely no school library. Fortunately friends and family knew that I enjoyed reading so I usually received books for my birthday and Christmas. When I was in Grade 5, I was in a Grade 5 / 6 composite class where our teacher encouraged us all to bring a book to school to create a classroom library. This was a great way to read books that other students liked and we took our books home at the end of the year.
Researching Australian Education - School readers
John and Betty - Book Browser - (contains photographs of pages from the reader)
Playmates - Deakin University - a pdf of the reader
Holidays - Deakin University - a pdf of the reader can be downloaded
Readers and textbooks - State Library of Victoria.