1837 4th Grade Reading

Posted: June 10, 2015 in Articles
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No wonder kids back then were done with school and considered a young man at 13! reader

We have the original McGuffey’s readers, and today we took out the fourth reader (for fourth grade?). This series was written in 1837 by William H. McGuffey, and I just wanted to see what they were like, partly because all my siblings used these to some extent. I was actually reading it out loud, and I don’t do well with that, but with the added difficulty of the writing, my reading out loud was… pretty rough.

If I may make a couple excuses here real quick, I have always found reading out loud slightly difficult. I’ll stumble on really easy words, and with this book, I stumbled more than usual since there were “hard” words in the writing. In addition, one gets used to reading in one’s head; reading is a lot different when you’re making sounds with your mouth.

Of course, those are just excuses. In reality, the reading actually isn’t that hard, but if it was meant for fourth grader, it’s really impressive. If kids were reading like this in fourth grade, they’d be done with school a lot earlier.

Especially funny was Rule #1: “Be careful to pronounce every syllable distinctly, and not to join the words together. Nothing is more important to good reading than attention to this rule, and yet most young readers violate it.”

Then came the sentence: “He was incapable of it.”

I read it. Then I read:

“Here take care not to join ble and of.)

Ooops. Too late.

Anyway, the Sherlock books remind me of this type of writing, so I’ve had a good bit of practice reading older English, but I’ll be reading more of McGuffey’s readers soon – out loud. I have a score to settle 🙂

  1. Libby says:

    Looks pretty boring by todays standards, but I do sometimes think more attention should be paid in schools to how people read and speak outloud – too many TV and Radio ‘presenters’ do not speak clearly enough. My Dad always used to say ‘speak slowly, clearly and distinctly’ – a lesson many presenters could benefit from learning!

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