Fun With Dick, Jane, and Sally

I listen to Jamie speak of her experiences teaching kindergarten, and I think about how much has changed since I was in my first year of school. Come to think about it, the demands of five and six year olds seem more difficult than they were when the three of you were walking the halls of Valley View School. So change is happening all around us!

Jamie’s year in kindergarten probably resembled what her students learn today more than the other two of you. Kelly played the most and learned the least, and I think Casey’s experience was somewhere in between. As someone who pushed me to find a loophole to getting her enrolled in kindergarten before her fifth birthday, I suspect she would have been happy to be pushed to read as much as Jamie did in her kindergarten class. As you all remember, not being satisfied with her curriculum in nursery school, I bought a set of books to help teach her to read—The Bob Books.

Back in my day (Those words will come out of the mouths of all of you someday, trust me!), we all learned to read using the “Dick, Jane, and Sally” books. I am fairly certain that everyone in my generation is familiar with that gang. Spot and Puff were the names of their pet dog and cat.

I learned from a website called “Mental Floss” that “editions that were intended for first-graders contained about 300 words apiece. Third-graders were given 1000 and, in 6th grade, kids followed similar escapades in 4000-word volumes.” (I am including the link to “15 Fun Facts About Dick and Jane” for Jamie, who may be interested in learning about reading during my childhood.

According to what I learned from those 15 fun facts, Russian children far surpassed their American counterparts in reading. By fourth grade, here in the U.S., children could read 1800 words while Russian children were allegedly reading 10,000 words.

I am interested in hearing your thoughts, Jamie. Can you tell me what kind of books your students are able to read at year’s end, and approximately how many vocabulary words should they be reading as they enter first grade?

Image from Rare Book School
                Image from Rare Book School

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