• U.S.

Education: Democracy Readers

2 minute read

U. S. education, like the Supreme Court, follows the election returns. In God fearing Colonial days, U. S. school readers were pious; later, in the era of industrial expansion, they glorified industry and thrift. Last week was published a new type of school reading book that appeared to mark off another period in U. S. history. Its theme was not religious, not economic, but political. Born of the U. S. people’s chief present concern—alarm at dictatorship’s threat—these readers were entitled Democracy Readers.* If democracy can be taught from a book, the U. S. should soon be overrun with good democrats.

Democracy Readers (for the primer and first six grades) have two able editors—Professor Werrett Wallace Charters of Ohio State University and Miss Prudence Cutright, assistant superintendent of schools in Minneapolis. The readers, as contemporary and homely as a comic strip, are didactic but entertaining. To explain democracy they draw upon the writings of such diverse modern characters as Edgar Guest, J. Edgar Hoover, Amelia Earhart, Dorothy Thompson and Pare Lorentz.

First Democracy Reader strikes its first blow for democracy on the very first page: “I am Sally Ann. I help Mother.” By page 7, democracy goes to work on Daddy: “I am Father. I help Danny. . . .” Reader I tells tots that it is fun to go to school, shows them the right and wrong ways to play. Reader II, Let’s Take Turns, gets into more complicated matters, such as whether it was right for Bob to snatch a book from Betty.

Most impressive reader is the last, for sixth-graders. The story most likely to make readers cheer is one about a Mr.

Lynde, small-salaried reporter on an Illinois weekly. Mr. Lynde falls heir to his uncle’s estate — a country house, a daily newspaper and $25,000 in cash — in an un named European dictatorship. To enjoy this wealth, Mr. Lynde must return to his fatherland. Elated at the thought of publishing a paper of his own, Mr. Lynde is reminded that in his fatherland there is no freedom of the press, eventually decides to stay, poor but free, in the U. S.

*Macmillan (72¢ to $1.20 each).

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