1879 version - McGuffey Readers

The First and Second McGuffey Readers were first published in 1836. In 1837 the Third and Fourth McGuffey Readers were printed. These books were "improved and enlarged" in 1838. In 1841 a higher reader was added to the series which was then named McGuffey's Rhetorical Guide. In the years 1843 and 1844 the four books then constituting the series were thoroughly remodeled and on the title pages were placed the words "Newly Revised" and the Rhetorical Guide was annexed as the McGuffey Fifth Reader. Ten years later the entire series was made over and issued in six books. These were then called the New McGuffey Readers. From 1853 until 1878 the books remained substantially unchanged; but in the latter year they were renewed largely in substance and improved in form. These readers as copyrighted in 1879 were extensively used for more than a quarter of a century.

As at first published, the lower books of the McGuffey Readers had no trace of the modern methods now used in teaching the mastery of words—even the alphabet was not given in orderly form; but the alphabetic method of teaching the art of reading was then the only one used. The pupil at first spelled each word by naming the letters and then pronounced each syllable and then the word.

The First McGuffey Reader was mostly in words of one syllable. In this book we find the story of the lame dog that, when cured, brought another lame dog to be doctored: of the kind boy who freed his caged bird; of the cruel boy who drowned the cat and pulled wings and legs from flies; of Peter Pindar the story teller, and the "snow dog" of Mount St. Bernard; of Mr. Post who adopted and reared Mary; of the boy who told a lie and repented after he was found out; of the chimney sweep who was tempted to steal a gold watch but put it back and was thereafter educated by its owner; of the whisky boy; and of the mischievous boy who played ghost and made another boy insane. Nearly every lesson has a moral clearly stated in formal didactic words at its close.

Another, most disturbing issue we had with the earlier McGuffey's was the tone and manner in which God was conveyed to the children. In a sense that the Lord was an awful terror or dictator, who would smash you like a bug if you were disobedient. The illustrations, spelling errors, added teacher helps, and many other improvements are among the reasons why the 1879 version may be the best.

*The above research is an excerpt from "A History of the McGuffey Readers" written by Henry H. Vail, copyright 1911. This book is obviously not written from any "sales" pitch perspective. You may print and/or read the book free. It is 25 pages and contains three portraits. A History of the McGuffey Readers.

Example of the First Reader from 1838


We invite you to look at the sample information that follows.



front cover 1st reader front cover
title page
lesson 1
lesson 9
lesson 63

96 pages

front cover 2nd reader front cover
title page
contents
lesson 1
lesson 71

160 pages

front cover 3rd reader front cover
title page
contents
lesson 1
lesson 79

208 pages

front cover 4th reader
front cover
title page
contents
list of illustrations
page 25
lesson 255

256 pages

front cover 5th reader front cover
title page
contents
list of illustrations
exercises
page 350
lesson 351

352 pages

front cover 6th reader front cover
title page
contents
selection for reading
page 462

463 pages

front cover Spelling Book
front cover
title page
preface
english alphabet
page 12
lesson 1
lesson 125

144 pages

front cover Primer
front cover
title page
preface
the alphabet
lesson 1
page 40

64 pages

1879 McGuffey Readers - 8 Book Set (1,743 total pgs.), Soft Cover: Price $65.00 + S & H

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