Wednesday, September 23, 2009

McGuffey Readers & Spellers

Rev. William Holmes McGuffey was born in Pennsylvania on my wedding anniversary, September
23, but in the year 1800...only a 206 year difference. It is estimated that 120 million copies of the McGuffey's Readers were sold between the years 1836 and 1960.

My husband bought me the revised eclectic first reader for our first wedding anniversary because I love the TV show Little House on the Prairie and that time period. They always read from their McGuffey readers.

Rev. McGuffey was a professor at Miami University in Ohio in 1826 and a Presbyterian minister. He actually invited students into his home to teach them reading and spelling to find the best way to prepare and teach children. He was asked by a publisher to write four readers. He went on to teach at other colleges and universities, and was president at Cincinnati College and Ohio University at Athens as well.

The Original McGuffey readers went out of print but were slightly revised and reprinted. Few edits were done only to make them easier to understand. Read the following quote from the publisher of this edition by George M. Mott:

"Out of print for over 125 years, the original McGuffey Eclectic Readers are considered educational classics...The character of our Nation was molded in an upright manner through the repeated use of these text books over several generations."

I've read the entire book which includes a list of vocabulary words at the end of each lesson. He was using a phonics method for teaching reading. The version I have doesn't describe it, but other versions do. The stories are about nature (God's creation), being kind to the poor, being kind to animals, obeying your parents, telling the truth, and forgiveness. Come to think of it, there were many lessons about being kind to animals. Considering the period, it makes sense since children spend a good portion of their days outside since there was no TV or computers!

What stands out the most to me is how much God is incorporated into the lessons. They tell us that God created everything and gives us everything. We should please him and seek forgiveness for our wrongdoings.

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