New England Primer

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NEW ENGLAND PRIMER. The New England Primer, first published about 1690, combined lessons in spelling with a short catechism and versified injunctions to piety and faith in Calvinistic fundamentals. Crude couplets and woodcut pictures illustrated the alphabet, and the child's prayer that begins "Now I lay me down to sleep" first appeared in this book. The primer fulfilled the purposes of education in New England, where Puritan colonists stressed literacy as conducive to scriptural study. For about fifty years, this eighty-page booklet, four and

a half by three inches in size, was the only elementary textbook in America, and for a century more it held a central place in primary education.


Crain, Patricia. The Story of A: The Alphebetization of America from the New England Primer to The Scarlet Letter. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2000.

McClellan, B. Edward. Moral Educaiton in America: Schools and the Shaping of Character from Colonial Times to the Present. New York: Teachers College Press, 1999.

Harry R.Warfel/s. b.

See alsoLiterature: Children's Literature ; New England Colonies ; Printing Industry ; Puritans and Puritanism .

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New England Primer

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New England Primer