American Cursive Handwriting is a beautiful “self-study” workbook
and curriculum for learning the Spencerian style of penmanship.
It is available in several formats. I received the student edition,
which comes with loose three-hole-punched pages in shrink wrap as
well as the reference edition, which is wire bound. Otherwise, the
books are identical. There is also a hard-cover, limited-copy collector’s
Author Michael Sull says this about his purpose in writing
the book: “My goal is to make this the most thorough single-volume
instructional source on cursive handwriting currently available.” Looking
at the eight chapters and seven appendices, I think the author
This 349 page book has a lot of nice extras. The
first page is decorated with an ornate “This Book Belongs
To ___________” design,
reminiscent of fancy bookplates. The preface is written by Richard
T. Muffler, who is the White House calligrapher. Several pages
of handwriting samples comprised of essays, poems, and letters
offer the reader an excellent example of beautiful writing.
In these handwriting samples, I wish the dotted diagonal line
showing the proper slant for writing had been omitted. They
would be easier to read if that were the case.
of all the lowercase and uppercase letters and numbers demonstrate
exactly how to execute these forms. I’m
not exactly sure if these pages are implemented into the curriculum
lesson plans or if they are simply for extra practice as deemed
necessary, but if there is any question about how to write each
symbol, here is where you would find the answer.
The first three chapters cover some preliminaries: a definition
of American Cursive with a background on Spencerian and Palmer methods.
This American Cursive is described by Michael Sull as “essentially
the same style that Palmer and subsequent penmen developed by modifying
Spencerian penmanship into a simpler form of handwriting.” Here
the author establishes the purpose of the book and includes a very
persuasive argument on the importance of handwriting, a comparison
of traditional and modern handwriting, and specifics on how the
curriculum is to be used.
Permission is given to flex with this program depending on your
child’s ability and maturity. Every student should work through
all of the material, regardless of level. Parents and teachers are
invited and encouraged to enter into this penmanship study themselves.
How to go about it? The author recommends you read through the
book first and study the examples to become familiar with how your
handwriting should look. After that, the lesson plans can be accomplished
in about thirty minutes a day. It is suggested that these writing
sessions be broken down into two fifteen time periods per day. Given
there are 122 lessons, this course could be completed in one semester.
After that, one should continue to practice cursive writing daily.
One entire chapter is devoted to specific proper techniques including
position of paper, letter slant, posture and movement, how to hold
the writing instrument, and handwriting rules. Illustrations are
helpful in teaching the student all of this.
I really like how crystal clear the actual lesson plans are. The
lesson format is as follows: warm-up exercise of choice, write eight
to ten lines, and complete a copybook practice sheet. As mentioned
earlier, this should only take about a total of thirty minutes per
day. Every day, students should review the model sheets of all letters
already learned. I personally find the dotted lines running diagonally
down the copybook practice sheets a bit distracting. I understand
their purpose in helping the student achieve the correct letter
slant, but wonder if the lines could have been printed in a lighter
Much bonus material is found in the appendices: using fountain
pens, writing the personal letter, lower case “t” and
capital “F” options, additional
information sources, an order form for the American Cursive Handwriting
diploma, personally signed by author Michael Sull, and a glossary
of handwriting terms.
It should be noted that this is a self-study curriculum for grade
five and up. There is a separate primary grade supplement available
for purchase for grades two through four. Even though the curriculum
is described as a self-study, I believe young students will need
supervision and monitoring.
American Cursive Handwriting would be an excellent method
for teaching cursive writing to children or to adults who want to
improve their penmanship. It is thorough in its treatment of the
subject, and the dedication of the authors is seen throughout.