History of American Schoolbooks

By Charles Carpenter | Go to book overview

XII
Literature Texts

THE STUDY OF LITERATURE as a separate subject was begun in American schools during the nineteenth century. The innovation had its inception chiefly in the readers of Murray, Cobb, Bingham, Darby, and others. Shortly before and after the Civil War two or three readers appeared which, as already mentioned, were composed almost entirely of literature-study material, but they were published ostensibly as texts for teaching oral reading, and were never considered seriously in any other light. With three or four minor exceptions, fully oriented "literature" texts did not come into general use until after mid-century.

A good while prior to 1850 a few volumes which might be called literature texts were printed but were not used a great deal, perhaps because literature as a separate subject had not become a part of the specified curriculum. One of the earliest books of this class was Miscellanies, Moral and Instructive in Prose and Verse, "for the use of schools," issued in Philadelphia in 1793"printed for Joseph Cruikshanks." This text had a preface by Benjamin Franklin, who wrote that "a book containing so many well-chosen sentiments and excellent instructions put into the hands of children, cannot but be highly useful to the rising generation." In the same decade Mathew Carey, who came to this country from Ireland in 1785

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History of American Schoolbooks
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Preface 7
  • Contents 11
  • I - The Early American Schools 15
  • II - The New England Primer 21
  • III - Nineteenth-Century Primers 35
  • IV - Special Primers 43
  • V - Beginning of Readers 57
  • VI - Following the Initial Readers 67
  • VII - The Mcguffey and Contemporary Readers 79
  • VIII - Grammars 93
  • IX - Rhetorics and Foreign Language Books 110
  • X - Arithmetics 122
  • XI - Spelling Books 148
  • XII - Literature Texts 160
  • Xlll - Elocution Manuals 168
  • XIV - Handwriting and Copybooks 177
  • XV - School Histories 196
  • XVI - General Science Texts 212
  • XVII - Physiologies And Mental Science Texts 233
  • XVIII - Geographies 245
  • XIX - Progress of Schoolbook Publishing 271
  • Bibliography 279
  • Index 301
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