Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Fun With Dick And Jane

I have fond memories of my first-grade teacher, Mrs. Edgerton. She was at least 100 years old, as I recall, but she was wonderful. Very creative. She used to cut words out of the newspaper and put them in an envelope. If we were good, we could pick out a word and try to read it.

Can you imagine the excitement?

Seriously. I thought it was great fun to pick out a crumpled piece of newspaper and sound out words like "Monday" or "coffee."

Today's first-graders don't know what they are missing. They think they are cool, using LeapFrog Learning Pads and reading in French and doing algebra in their spare time. Of course, if their teachers cut words out of the newspaper they would end up sounding out terrifying things like "recession" and "homeless." Parents would be calling the school to complain. If they still had phone service. Or a home.

Anyway, back to my fascinating childhood. Our first grade book was "Fun With Dick and Jane," a classic piece of literature that is now listed in the Antiquarian/Collectible section of eBay, which is appropriate but a bit depressing nonetheless. There was an entire collection of Dick and Jane books, each of which used four words in various combinations to tell a story.

See Jane run.
Run Jane, run.
Run fast Jane.
Fast, Jane, fast.
See Jane run fast.
See? Jane run fast.
Fast! Run fast, Jane.
Run, Jane. Fast. See? Jane run fast. Fast? Fast, fast. See? Jane! Run!!

There were some amazing twists and turns in the plots, as you can tell. Not to mention the surprise endings. (Will Jane run? We couldn't wait to find out.) And once Spot came into the picture, watch out! There was no end to the hilarity and hi-jinks. (Sit, Spot! Run, Jane! See Spot sit!)

Who needs a LeapFrog Learning Pad? By the time we were all in high school, we were reading just fine. Sit, Jane. Sit.


The Retired One said...

I SO remember those books! I loved them all. I was so proud to be in the "BEST" reading group while in school..remember when they divided the kids into groups according to their reading ability? I used to feel sorry for the kids in the "bluebird" group (which in our school: was the group that struggled with reading).
I thought your post was interesting. Loved the line about the kids today reading french and doing "alegbra on the side". LMAO!!

Fran Hill said...

Nah! Today's reading books for kids deal with 'issues' now. They don't get published without some kind of social problem for the main characters ...

See Jane run
Dick has a gun
He carries one
Thinks it's fun
Run, Jane, run
Take Spot, too,
Or Dick'll shoot him
As well as you.

Lesley said...

Retired One, I think the bluebirds were the good readers at my school. Or maybe that's just what they told us so we wouldn't feel bad.

Fran, you are so creative! Did they have Dick and Jane in England?

Fran Hill said...

Yes, we did have Dick and Jane, but they were called Janet and John here. Same kids, though. Janet in the kitchen with Mum, baking and wearing an apron. John helping Dad mend the car and talking about boys' things. Janet wants to be a nurse. John wants to be a doctor. Usual stuff.


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