HORNBOOK, the primer or first reading book used in colonial schools. Long used in England, colonists brought it with themto America. The hornbook was not really a book at all but simply a sheet of paper mounted on a board and covered with transparent horn. The board ended in a handle that a child held while reading. The handle was perforated so that it might be attached to the child's belt. Hornbooks contained the alphabet in capital and small letters, followed by combinations of vowels with consonants to form syllables, the Lord's Prayer, and Roman numerals.
Cohen, Sheldon S. A History of Colonial Education, 1607–1776. New York: Wiley, 1974.
Charles GarrettVannest/s. b.
A primer; a book explaining the basics, fundamentals, or rudiments of any science or branch of knowledge. The phrase hornbook law is a colloquial designation of the rudiments or general principles of law.
A colloquial reference to a series of textbooks that review various fields of law in summary, narrative form, as opposed to casebooks, which are designed as primary teaching tools and include many reprints of court opinions.