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"The National First Reader; or Word-Builder"

Title page
(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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This schoolbook gives us ideas of what children did for fun - marbles, kites, hoops, and swings. Although somewhat idealized, illustrations in old school books can give us insight into the daily life of children. This Reader has two entire sections on "Play"-"Plays for Girls" and "Plays for Boys." (See illustrations on pages 79, 81 and 89 by clicking on the Select a page menu above.) Young women (pre-pubescent girls) were encouraged to play more vigorously than older schoolgirls, in part because they were thought to be safe from endangering their reproductive organs at their early ages. As they matured, they were encouraged toward more "lady-like" activities. Physical maturity and "lady-like" behavior went together. The illustration of younger girls in this book shows them engaged in vigorous play on the school grounds - running, swinging, and playing hoops and ring-toss. Note the one room schoolhouse in the background.


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