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Character Italics: Building Character through Handwriting (Level 1, Basic Print) Review by Nancy Casari Dayton

Martine Cox and Wendy Shaw
PO Box 393
Oakhurst CA 93644

The Character Italics program offers a series of three copybooks that complement the Getty-Dubay Italics Series font (GDI) of the Portland State University; the GDI font is used with permission. The three levels include Level I Basic Print (for use with GDI books B or C); Level II Beginning Cursive (GDI books C, D, or E); and Level III Advanced Cursive (GDI books E, F, G, and beyond). These copybooks allow students to practice and develop their italic handwriting skills while investing some time learning about character traits, such as obedience, humility, and contentment. The price of each book is $14.95. You may order books from the website.

The exercises in the Level 1 copybook focus on 18 character traits. For each character trait, the exercises follow a similar pattern: a dictionary definition of the trait, a sentence definition, and quotations from well-known historical figures and sources. Examples include Aristotle, John Calvin, Helen Keller, and the Bible. Within each character trait section, there is also one or more complete-the-sentence opportunities (e.g., "Today I can show obedience by...").

Each exercise contains two tasks. On the student's first pass with the selection, he can trace the words and then copy them line by line; the second time, he must copy the entire selection after reading it. The spaces that students write in have a clear baseline, waistline, and ascender/capital line. The authors suggest either completing each exercise in two sessions, or working through the book completing the first part of the exercise and then going back to the beginning and working through the second part of each exercise. The book contains 126 exercises.

I love this resource and plan on using it with my first-grader next fall. There are not many copybook resources that use the GDI font, and I appreciate the quality of the author and quotation sources with which he will be spending time. For those interested in only secular sources, Italics Builders does make available public school versions of the copybooks that do not contain any Biblical references. I think the $14.95 price is fair, given that the book gathers a pleasing variety of high-quality quotations. There is ample space for the student's writing, and the paper is thicker than the paper we use in our printer. It will hold up to an eraser quite well.

Product review by Nancy Casari Dayton, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2009