McGuffey Readers were a series of graded primers that were widely used as textbooks in American schools from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, and are still used today in some private schools and by homeschooling families.
It is estimated that at least 120 million copies of McGuffey's Readers were sold between 1836 and 1960, placing its sales in a category with the Bible and Webster's Dictionary. Since 1961 they have continued to sell at a rate of some 30,000 copies a year. No other textbook bearing a single person's name has come close to that mark.
So what makes McGuffey readers unique?
McGuffey's first concern was that the content should promote moral growth and excellence of mind in habits, attitudes, and literary tastes. Bible selections were primary in his reading lists.
McGuffey also believed in phonics for beginning reading. Methods and timing should be adapted to the individuality of each child. Parents should not send their dearest treasure off to school too early in life, but should proceed at the child's own pace. This preserves the vigor of his mental action.
McGuffey believed in memorizing as a way to develop habits of attention that promote understanding and mastery of ALL learning, even those studies which are not memorized.
McGuffey believed that an obvious result of a cultivated mind is a wide vocabulary. And the best way to cultivate a wide vocabulary is to learn words in their context, as in studying the important ideas and noble thoughts presented in the Readers.
These principles produce the education that shaped American character, particularly in the West, for over one hundred years. It's the kind of education the majority of Americans want and need today.
History & Comparison of the Readers
The first two McGuffey Readers were originally published in 1836. A year later, the Third and Fourth readers were printed; these were "improved and enlarged" in 1838. In 1841 a higher reader was added to the series which was then named McGuffey's Rhetorical Guide. During 1843-44 the four books then constituting the series were adapted, labeled "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 1879, the books were revised again—these were extensively used for more than a quarter of a century.
What We Offer
The Mott Media editions we carry are fascimiles the original 1836 editions, but we often get used reprints of the 1879 editions as well. The books labeled "Christian School Edition" are simply paperbacks of the 1879 editions, reprinted in the 1970s. During the 1980s, Raymond & Dorothy Moore created a series of McGuffey readers, adapting the content using material from the 1836-53 editions, removing unwanted stories and adding color pictures. We rarely see these.
Mott Media also offers the Classic Curriculum series, a complete line of workbooks for grades 1-4 written by Dr. Rudy Moore expressly for use with the 1836 editions. Available for Reading and Writing (four booklets per grade), they provide clear daily lessons, regular reviews, quizzes, and a pull out section containing a comprehensive test of mastery for that workbook as well as answers for all assignments, quizzes and tests.
Except for a few of the grade 1 workbooks which teach "beginning basics," each workbook is keyed to particular McGuffey readers. As a child proceeds through the workbooks he/she is referred to the appropriate readings, lessons or exercises in the various texts. While some parents and teachers prefer to personally shepherd the progress of their students through the textbooks, many prefer the guidance offered by these workbooks.
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