Sunday, January 12, 2014

Janet and John

I learned to read with Janet and John. When doing a teaching practice in the early 1980s, the school was clearing out old stock and, on seeing these old readers, I was immediately transported back to my learning to read days in the late 1960s. The school let me buy a whole set of Janet and John (almost whole - there are three books missing), including about 30 of the 40 or so Little Books. I was amazed by how familiar the stories were and how much I remembered.


The Whole Word Readers

Janet and John
Here We Go
*Off To Play - missing
I Went walking
Out and About
Through the Garden Gate (the one with Chicken Licken)
*I Know a Story - also missing

Extension Readers

Once Upon A Time
*High on a Hill should come here. :(
Days in the Sun
The Five-and-a-Half Club
Over the Sea
It Must Be magic
Magic Everywhere.

They were first published in America between 1942 and 1949. Most of my copies are reprints from 1962. By 1964 Peter and Jane were in the shops. Janet and John were retired to a million stock cupboards around the UK. Lost to subsequent generations but living on in the memories and hearts of the Baby Boomers.



There's quite a lot of gender stereotype, not one non-white face in the whole series, and absolutely no phonetic reading practice - it was all whole word recognition. Even Peter and Jane included some phonetics when they realized that children were leaving Primary School unable to read.

I teach children to read and though I have a number of reading schemes that I use (ORT, Ginn, New Way - previously Gay Way in the 1960s), I decided to use Janet and John with DD. Last night I left her with some of the Little Books to look at when I left the room. I came back later to turn off the light and found she'd put a bookmark in one of the Little Books (it has only 5 pages) and placed it on her bedside table.



Do you remember Janet and John?

14 comments:

  1. I do! How lovely to see so many of them - and how wonderful to have an almost complete collection. I remember reading them very well (remember very well, not necessary reading them very well lol!) - and this post has made my day!

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    1. I think if I had to sum up learning to read with Janet and John in one word, it would be aeroplane. Wonderful trip down memory Infant School isn't it?

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  2. Now I think I remember Janet and John but according to your timescale I shouldn't! How odd.

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    1. I'm sure many schools took years to make the change to newer readers. And they used these books as supplements for decades.

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  3. What memories!! thank you :-)

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  4. I remember we read the Wide Range Readers in Aylward too - Green book and Blue book - and I think Blue were harder than Green - loved them

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  5. Oh yes, Judith, I remember Wide range readers now. And I remember reading a Gay Way book too. I think they switched to Ginn after Janet and john - I don't remember M and M coming home with Peter and Jane at all, although we bought a few in Smiths.

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  6. Diane and Conor in Raleigh, NCJanuary 19, 2014 at 10:26 PM

    Yes! I learned how to read with Janet and John and See Dick/Jane growing up in NY in the early 60s. I, too, teach K-5 ESL in North Carolina and I wished that we used these readers. Along with Dr. Seuss, we covered all the basics of literacy in those books! Currently, my school is using Letterland, and in ESL we use Avenues by Houghton and Miflin, however, I use leveled (basal) readers and create my lessons from there. I am always interested in what other ESL teachers are doing so I always enjoy reading your posts, teaching or not!

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    1. I still use the Letterland whole alphabet book for children to pick out words from each picture beginning with that letter. Trouble with the whole programme is that they think the letters are called e.g. Clever Cat, Hairy Hat Man, Annie Apple, etc...

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  7. Can you tell me if these books had a story about a fishing lamp, i think it was in a bedroom at the end of the story.

    I'm also after a story about camping in a tent and/or shed, i'm certain it was a Janet and John book.

    Thanks.

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    1. We haven't got that far yet but I'll let you know if we find such stories in the future.

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  8. Can you take another photo of the FRONT covers of the smaller (extension) books please? I need to know if they are the ones I've been trying to track down for decades! Thank you.

    Cathy

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    1. Cathy, if you leave your email address here I'll take the photos and send them to you after the Easter holidays.

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