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Reading-Literature The Primer and Reading-Literature First Reader Review by Kate Kessler

Harriette Taylor Treadwell And Margaret Free
Yesterday's Classics
PO Box 3418
Chapel Hill, NC 27515

It isn't always easy to find the right kind of reading material for early struggling readers. Yesterday's Classics offers two superb choices for your children that are full of classic stories you might just remember from your own childhood; The Primer and the First Reader by the authors known as Free and Treadwell.

The Primer is a collection of nine stories over 112 pages in a large clear font with beautiful realistic black and white illustrations by Fredrick Richardson on almost every page. The nine stories include: "The Little Red Hen," "The Gingerbread Boy," "The Old Woman and the Pig," "The Boy and the Goat," "The Pancake," "Chicken Little," "Three Billy Goats Gruff," "Little Tuppens," and "Little Spider's First Web." The stories are simple enough for a new reader and full of repetition in order to help your child master fluency. As an example, here is a brief section from the first story in The Primer, "The Little Red Hen:"

The little red hen found a seed.
It was a wheat seed.
The little red hen said, "Who will plant the seed?"
The little red hen said, "Who will plant the seed?"
The pig said, "Not I."
The cat said, "Not I."
The dog said, "Not I."
The little red hen said, "I will."

My struggling reader was slowly making her way through the stories in this book. She was gaining fluency and confidence as she moved from one story to another. One day I found her atop the kitchen counter with her head on a pillow reading it out loud to anyone who would listen. She was reading to me with such excitement and delight - I was laughing with joy! She was doing this after we had already done our reading assignment for the day for the sheer fun of it. She read half of the book in one sitting. I cannot tell you what relief, happiness, excitement and gratefulness to the Lord filled my heart. This is the first book that she felt she could master--and she did.

The second in the series is the First Reader. You will find 13 similar stories that steadily increase in reading difficulty as well as 33 "rhymes and jingles" from sources like Mother Goose or Christina G. Rossetti's poems for children. The illustrations are by the same artist and in the same style, but there are fewer of them in this book. Some of the story titles include "The Three Little Pigs," "The Bremen Band," "The Boy and the Fox," "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse." "Little Boy Blue," "Blow Wind Blow," "The North Wind," "There Was a Crooked Man," "Sun-Loving Swallow," "Mix a Pancake," "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" among others, are some of the quality selections of poems and rhymes found in this book. Here is a sample from "Once I Saw a Little Bird:"

Once I saw a little bird
Come hop, hop, hop;
So I cried, "Little bird,
Will you stop, stop, stop?"

I went to the window
To say, "How do you do?"
But he shook his little tail,
And far away he flew.

-Mother Goose

At 128 pages, this is a marvelous resource for your beginning reader. Yesterday's Classics has a unique and important purpose for the books in this series: " train children in reading and appreciating literature through the reading of literature." They believe that if you begin with good literature written in the best language that you will be forming your child's taste for future reading material. All I can say is that my daughter is gaining confidence and actually choosing to read on her own when only a short time before she was struggling and resisting the written word. She finds the stories engaging and is eager for the next one. Yesterday's Classics has a whole host of wonderful books to choose from and I encourage you to check out their website, but for this homeschool mother, The Primer and First Reader are life changers. Thanks Yesterday's Classics!

Product review by Kate Kessler, Product Reviews Manager, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January, 2010