Dick and Jane School Readers, c. 1930 - 1950

Dick and Jane Guess

Dick and Jane emerged from a series of school readers created in 1930 by William H. Elson and Dr. William S. Gray. Elson had been writing school readers since 1909 and Gray was one of the the leading reading acquisition theorists of the period. With the assistance of Zena Sharp, a reading consultant for Chicago publishers Scott, Foreman & Company they created a series that came to be known as the Elson-Gray Readers.

Dick and Jane also featured in the oversized Our Big Book which contained the text and artwork of the first Dick & Jane pre-primer. Intended as a teaching aid, Our Big Book measured 30" x 22" and was designed for placement on an easel at the head of the classroom.

In 1940, the artwork was updated and the text was revised in the Dick & Jane readers. In that year, Scott, Foresman & Company began a new series of readers which included pre-primers We Look and See, We Work and Play and We Come and Go. (A new version of Our Big Book was published using text and artwork from the We Look and See pre-primer.)

The new series included Fun with Dick & Jane and Our New Friends, intended for Grade One pupils. Friends and Neighbours and More Friends and Neighbours were published for Grade Two. Streets and Roads and More Streets and Roads were issued for Grade Three. The Think and Do workbooks were also introduced at this time.

In the mid-1940s, new readers for Grades Four, Five and Six were issued by Scott, Foresman & Company, but the titles were not adopted in British Columbia schools. However, the schools of British Columbia did adopt a new series of health & personal development books entitled Happy Days with Our Friends and Good Times with Our Friends.

Dick and Jane Readers, 1950-1965

Sources: The Elson Readers