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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Dick and Jane -- All Grown Up

May 2, 2007

Last month I read about the warm reception that an exhibit of the Dick and Jane books received. Seems that there's a fair amount of nostalgia about the good old days – or the way we want to remember the past.

But would Dick and Jane resonate with today's children? Maybe, but I think not.

Books have been likened to mirrors and windows; one reflects back, the other allows readers to glimpse another place, time, experience and more. Few children I know – even in the good old days – look or talk like Dick and Jane.

There is a range of books available for young readers just starting to read independently. And they not only better mirror those who read them; they better reflect their interests and concerns.

Baa-Choo by Sarah Weeks (HarperCollins) is laugh-out loud funny while Katherine Paterson's Marvin One Too Many (HarperCollins) gently conveys one child's difficulty in mastering reading in school and the Stories Julian Tells by Ann Cameron (Random House) is really a celebration of the ups and downs of family life

Seems like books for newly independent readers have grown up just like readers of Dick and Jane.

Comments

WOW! I was looking for something else, and found this- look at you, immortalized by Chris Raschka! Good for you! I will bookmark this site- thanks!Micki

Glad you found the site and hope you keep reading it! And take a look at Joanne Meier's blog, too.

I beg to differ,my 6 year old loves Dick and Jane.She is fascinated by the illustrations of old cars,mother wearing a dress and father wearing a hat.She identifies with the family values shown too.She looks forward to seeing what the family is doing next.I appreciate that there are no computers,cell phones etc...just family members playing,laughing;people doing "real" things.

It's great that your daughter responds to the Dick & Jane books. They do have a certain charm but the range of books available today has broadened considerably. When my son was your daughter's age, he liked Cynthia Rylant's Henry & Mudge books for much the same reason. A real boy does real things with his dog, all in an uncomplicated world.

The problem when any book is blasted is the book is devalued. Dick and Jane won't work for everyone, but not everyone can learn to read with phonics. These kids spend years being told they can't read and don't try hard enough when in fact the phonics program and school is failing the student. Dick and Jane do still have a place in this world and should NEVER be spoken down. When you do, you devalue all books.

I just have to say that, actually...Dick really IS just like my brother...and Jane looks just like my sister...and...you absolutely won't believe this but...Sally was ME! Right down to the clothes...and even the hair color...on all three of us! And, well, of COURSE they don't talk like children (you know)...it's called a, "controlled vocabulary."I absoluteley agree that funny, lol stories are a MUST for independent reading! But the key word is independent (vs. guided). The Dick and Jane series is still and always will be an excellent resource for helping children learn to read...to use and develop decoding skills as well as develop the ability to recognize sight words within the context of a sentence.To exclude any book or series of books (especially for being passe...old fashioned...out-of-date) only sets limitations on what a child can read. Kids absolutely love and enjoy the stories in this series...as they get to know the characters...and laugh at the things that happen in their lives.

I have begun my journey in homeschooling and I have been looking for good quality books to give to my new reader... I finally found Dick and Jane at an old book store and was irritated that they didn't have anymore.. The contemporary books today, are overly illustrated and either too difficult to read or too easy - I couldn't find anything in between.. I didn't grow up w/the Dick & Jane series, however I can see that my boy loves it and chuckles as he reads - enjoying the books!

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"There is no substitute for books in the life of a child." — May Ellen Chase