Thursday, May 15, 2008


I've received new additions to my book collection. a really old autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, a poetry book, a really old math text book, and 9 Dick and Jane Books. All equipped with discolored pages, illustrations, notes in the margins, and they smell Oh So Good!

The Dick and Jane Books came with a newspaper clipping from the New York Times. I found it worth reading. I'm not from the Dick and Jane generation so I don't have that baby boomer nostalgia of growing up with the stories. But I see it in my Mom's face when she sees the books. I don't really think there is anything like these books in my generation. Maybe Sesame Street... Nope. I don't feel myself getting all emotional when I turn on the TV and it's still on. hmmmm...

well here's a part of the article for you to enjoy:

By Trip Gabriel
1997ish (guessing)

Look, look.

See Dick in a museum. See Jane in a documentary. See copies of "Fun With Dick and Jane" rescued from oblivion after years of use by sticky-fingered first-graders, selling for $300. The Dick and Jane stories, which taught millions of school children for 40 years to read with simple vocabulary and sunny narrative pictures, are being rediscovered as icons of mid-century American culture.

They are the subject of two popular museum shows, a PBS film and a recently published book, "Growing Up With Dick and Jane" (Collins Publishers), which examines how the candy-colored world of the primers -- once used in 85 percent of American elementary schools -- reflects the values and aspirations of the postwar suburban middle-class. The book's subtitle is "Learning and Living the American Dream."

The social and cultural upheavals of that decade made Dick and Jane seem increasingly irrelevant to some. There was pressure, sometimes shrill, from groups that said the series was sexist and racist. The pendulum of reading theory swung from the whole-word method to sounding out words phonetically.

Current reading theory stresses a combination of phonics and what is known as whole language giving children multiple opportunities to read, listen to and write about topics that touch their lives.

Poor Dick and Jane tried to become up to date in the '60s. They did more cool things, such as watching TV. They sometimes had attitude, saying things like, "I don't want to" or "Get away." When Jane defeated Dick and Father in ring-toss, she put her
hands on her hips and laughed.

In 1965, the publisher was the first to introduce black characters to a first-grade reading book.

But the 1965 edition was the last. Although the books were sold until 1970 and remained in some classrooms through the decade, the tattered copies were eventually retired. And largely forgotten.

In 1993 David Thompson, a TV producer, attended an exhibition in Indiana of the work of Zerna Sharp and noticed that of all the items, two illustrations of Dick and Jane riveted the crowd. He decided to make a documentary for WIVP, the PBS affiliate in Peoria, but Scott, Foresman was reluctant to open its archives.

"They were so criticized because of Dick and Jane at the end that they were scared to death to let them out and get bombarded all over again," Thompson said. But he prevailed, and the documentary, "Whatever Happened to Dick and Jane?", became his station's most popular ever. In three years it has been on more than 80 PBS stations.

Collectors hunt for the books in antiques shops and used-book stores. The most sought-after titles are "We Come and Go," "We Look and See," "We Work and Play" and "Fun With Dick and Jane," from the editions of 1940, 1946, 1951 and 1956.

At the Prince and the Pauper children's-book store in San Diego, a 1946 copy of "Fun With Dick and Jane" that sold for $45 in 1988 is going for $300. James D. Keeline, the store's manager, suggested a reason for the popularity. "For a person who's lifelong reader," he said, "a Dick and Jane book is an artifact of their earliest reading experience."

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