Friday, December 29, 2017

FFB: The Scott, Foresman Invitations to Personal Reading Program edited by Helen Robinson, et al.

I've written before about the Scott, Foresman reading/literature textbooks that my various schools, public and private, used through my elementary through high school education (1970-1982), in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Hawaii. (They had the Dick and Jane first-grade franchise in the '60s, and were ubiquitous, obviously, in later grades as well.) I remember the first actively psychotic teacher I had, a second-grade reading teacher who egregiously resented my ability to read before entering her class, growing volubly vexed with me when I wrote in the answers in the blank spaces in the text assuming that was what we were meant to do.) Among the supplementary materials Scott, Foresman offered were editions of various selected children's and YA books that they published in uniform "framed" cover-format as above and below, though in various sizes--the books were more or less in the dimensions of the original editions, and reprinted the original covers, except with no dust jackets and printed-on-the-boards images of those original front covers. I don't have them to hand, but as I recall them they didn't make an attempt to reprint the back covers or flap copy.
The list at the end is the set that was available for browsing and reading in my fifth grade and sixtth grade classroom at Nathan Hale Elementary School in Hazardville, CT. (The examples above might've been pitched to a slightly younger set of readers, with a Jean Craighead George early reader that I've never seen...while I do clearly remember her powerful Newbery Award-winner Julie of the Wolves and My Side of the Mountain. (We had one classroom with one teacher for all but some art classes at that small school at that time, and the same teacher for both fifth and sixth grades, and nearly the identical population in the classroom in those two years. We were also, probably unfortunately but conveniently, divided by our perceived ability as readers, with a half-doze of us on the students' left side of the classroom the sophisticated readers, using as our textbooks Scott, Foresman's Vistas (in fifth grade) and Cavalcades (in sixth)...the intermediate readers, making up most of the class, had another text (title forgotten) and sat in the middle of the classroom; and the ten or so of the struggling readers sat on the right, and used the Open Highways volumes for their grades. Scholastic Book Services and Dell Yearling paperbacks, among some others, were available for the kids to read during "open reading" periods or indoor recess, in shelves at the back of the room...I dipped in more than most, I think, even among the "advanced" readers. 
Among those which mad the strongest impression were Henry Reed’s Journey by Keith Robertson, the first of Robertson's Reed and Midge Glass novels I read and the second in the series (I recall that a chapter from Henry Reed's Baby-Sitting Service had been included in one of textbooks), Harold Courlander's collection of mythlore and folktales from around the world Ride with the Sun, and the handsomely illustrated edition of "The Charge of the Light Brigade"...though I now remember, looking at this list, that I definitely read the Newbery-winning Across Five Aprils and The Twenty-One Balloons from this set, and North to Freedom, the Danny Dunn books (that one doesn't stand out in memory) and Sea Pup Again (interesting the degree to which they didn't feel the need to include the first novels in a given series). Pretty sure I read James Kjelgaard's Stormy, as well, having already read his Big Red and a few others (at least a few of those among the paperbacks on the same shelves)... Kjelgaard having been a prolific writer for adults, in the slick magazines and higher-paying pulps, as well, who died young, after illness...Robert Bloch helped him shape up some of his last work for publication, when he was simply too ill to produce final drafts. 

To what extent did your classrooms have their own collections of books when you were in elementary grades, and did you have any fond memories of those addition to any libraries your school also maintained? (We had a library at that Enfield, Connecticut school...Hazardville having been absorbed by Enfield some decades before...which was in 1973 already a "media center" instead...the first thing I remember taking out from there was an audiocassette dramatization of Dracula...which my brother, then aged two, gleefully recorded over in part while playing around with the inexpensive cassette player/recorder I had at that time.).

The Scott, Foresman Invitations to Personal Reading Program set we had in my 5th/6th grade classroom:

Adventures in Many Lands

Henry Reed’s Journey by Keith Robertson

The Minnow Leads to Treasure by A. Philippa Pearce

The Singing Cave by Ellis Dillon

“What Then, Raman?” by Shirley Aroroa

Science and Nature

The Giant Golden Book of Biology by Gerald Ames and Rose Wyler

Jets and Rockets and How They Work by William P. Gottlieb

The Peaceful Atom by Bernice Kohn

Sea Pup Again by Archie Binns

Stormy by James Kjelgaard

Biography and Historical Fiction

Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt

America’s Ethan Allen by Stewart Holbrook

From the Eagle’s Wing by Hildegarde Swift

Trace Through the Forest by Barbara Robinson

Tree in the Trail by Holling C. Holling

Legends, Myths, and Other Tales

The Golden Treasury of Myths and Legends adapted by Anne T. White

Ride with the Sun edited by Harold Courlander

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Bob Fulton’s Amazing Soda-Pop Stretcher by Jerome Beatty, Jr.

The City Under the Back Steps by Evelyn S. Lampman

Danny Dunn, Time Traveler by Jay Williams and Raymond Abrashkin

Books Too Good to Miss

Mr. Twigg’s Mistake by Robert Lawson

North to Freedom by Anne Holm

The Story of Design by Marion Downer

The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois


The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Moment of Wonder edited by Richard Lewis
For more of today's books, please see Patti Abbott's blog.


George said...

I vaguely remember those VISTA and VENTURES books. Scott, Foresman was a big player in the educational market.

You choose the most intriguing books to review! Love it!

Todd Mason said...

I think, George, that we were at either end of the decade or so the VENTURES/VISTAS/CAVALCADES set was in common use. And thanks! This was a late-breaking improvisation when I didn't get far enough along for my satisfaction with the other books I was intending to write up...and, sadly, the typographical errors in the piece up till at least now betray that too readily. Shall have to go look at it again in a few. Or, at least, I certainly should.