Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Old Spelling Books & Readers

They're musty and yellowed with age. The covers are faded and practically illegible. Numerous students have decorated the pages with penciled handwork. The brittle pages crumble like dried leaves making a mess all over the floor. But oh how we love these old spelling books and readers!
These were among the textbooks used in the first small schools. They went in sequence and the vocabulary got progressively challenging. They included simple lessons that often taught morals and values. Most of the examples gathered between myself and John are from the mid 19th century to the turn of the 20th.
We enjoy finding like-minded people who savor these old tomes too. My friend Sharon, who used to be a teacher, gets it. She tells me, "There is something very comforting about old textbooks. When I find these books at the flea market, usually for one or two dollars, I sort of hyperventilate the way some women do when they find a great pair of shoes."
When I last visited Sharon, we combed through her bookshelves. She took out an English book that belonged to her father. Published in 1924, the "Century Collegiate Handbook" was given to Inek, when he arrived in the U.S. after WW II. Sharon adds, "As far back as I can remember he has always loved books and reading and that has been passed on to me."

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