Sunday, April 20, 2008

Dick and Jane

In class the other day Dr. Robinson read a little bit from Dick and Jane. She began to describe how much picture books have changed since the "Dick and Jane" days. Later on the same day in one of my other classes my professor referenced the Dick and Jane books again. I wanted to know more about these books so I "googled" them and here is what I found:

"Dick and Jane were the main characters in popular basal readers written by Dr. William S. Gray and published by Scott Foresman, that were used to teach children to read from the 1930s through to the 1970s in the United States. The main characters, Dick and Jane, were a little boy and girl. Supporting characters included Baby (or Sally), Mother, Father, Spot the dog, Puff the cat, Jack the clown and Tim the teddy bear. They first appeared in the Elson-Gray Readers used in the 1930s. The books relied on sight reading (or "whole word reading") and repetition, using phrases like, "Oh, see. Oh, see Jane. Funny, funny Jane," and they ignored phonics. For this reason, they came to be used less and less as studies supported phonics as a more effective method of gaining literacy.[citation needed]

The simple but distinctive illustrations for the books were done by artists Eleanor Campbell and Keith Ward.

Black characters and characters from other races and cultures were not introduced until 1965, when Dick and Jane books were already declining in popularity. In 1955 Rudolf Flesch criticized the Dick and Jane series in his book, Why Johnny Can't Read, and the push for multiculturalism, and stronger presentation of other races and cultures was partially a reaction to the cultural homogeneity of the series.

First editions of the books are now worth as much as two hundred dollars. The books were reissued in 2003 by Grosset & Dunlap, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) and over 2.5 million copies were sold, but this time the publishers had warned against using them to teach reading to children. Related merchandise, such as shirts and magnets, also gained wide popularity, particularly among people who had never been exposed to the original series but were familiar with catch phrases like "See Spot run!"

The title of one of the books, Fun with Dick and Jane, inspired a 1977 film of the same title, and its 2005 remake." (Wikipedia)

Apparently these books are now worth anywhere from 100-600 dollars! I have also attached a picture of them!

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