Review of Catholic Readers
Please note that these are my personal insights into these sets of readers. This information can help you to see why we chose the readers we use for our children. You are invited to look at these readers for yourself to see what will be beneficial for your family. My goal in finding a set of readers for my children was to find readers that would instill the virtues of our faith and help our children to grow in their ability to read and comprehend both oral and written material. As you will find below we found the Catholic National Readers and the De La Salle readers to meet these goals and to offer the tools necessary for the children to grow in the development of these skills.
May God guide you as you make these choices for your family.
The Faith and Freedom readers were originally published 3 times.
The first publication was in the 1940s. This publication could truly be called Catholic. There are many stories concerning children, at the appropriate age for the reader (ie. 4th graders for the 4th reader), living their lives in their families, at play, and at school with a true sense of Catholicism. There are also stories of saints, hymns, Catholic traditions, and Bible stories interspersed with stories of daily living.
The second publication was in the 1950s and is called the New Edition.
Comparing this edition to the original for the primary This is Our Family we found that the stories were rewritten but were not substantially changed. I don't know if this holds true at all the levels.
The third (final) publication was in the 1960s and is called the Revised Edition. There is a considerable difference in the stories (less Catholic stories and more secular) and even in the reverence of the pictures.
An example is a story in the 3rd reader This Is Our Town when the bishop comes to the town to bless the Church. The story has been rewritten and emphasizes the people.
1960's edition ending to the story: "They were happy and thankful that there was another beautiful house of God in Timber Town. It was the work of their own hands. So they felt that it was theirs in a very special way."
1950's edition ending:
"The bishop gave his blessing, and the people of Timber Town went back to their homes, thanking God that once again He Himself had a beautiful house. Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament would be there every day and every night to love and bless and help them."
In the 1st reader These Are Our Friend in the last chapter Grandma is telling fairy tales to the children and then the story of Our Lord's Nativity. In the new edition this same portion is handled in this way: Grandma gives some pies to newspaper boy whose family is in need and tells the children about how Our Lord would like us to treat others. Before the children go to bed they would like Grandma to tell them "just one good story" and she relates a short Catechism of our Faith including redemption.
These readers are used in Our Lady of the Rosary's reading program. I don't know which edition. They also use the workbooks that went along with the readers.
Seton has reprinted the Revised Edition readers in softcover.
The only suggestion for these readers is to look for the Original Edition or New Edition and don't waste money on the Revised Edition.
The following sets of readers instill a greater love for God and our holy Faith as well as teach the virtues.
American Cardinal Readers
The American Cardinal Readers are being reprinted from 1929.
The first three grades also have age appropriate children performing their daily duties. The fourth reader and on are literature based and include selections by St. Teresa, Mary Mapels Dodge, Robert Louis Stevenson, William Thackeray, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, etc. These stories are good literature.
Catholic National Readers
The Catholic National Readers were originally published by Benziger Bros. at the turn of the century.
These readers and the De La Salle readers have become our family's favorites. The National Readers start off with an introduction that yearly covers the objective and techniques of oral reading. This information is presented age appropriately and in depth including:
articulation, accentuation, expression, emphasis, inflection, modulation, etc. Each lesson includes word lists with dictionary pronunciation and definitions. The lessons conclude with "language lessons" which include reading comprehension.
The Speller/Word book that is included in this set includes spelling lists by topic (is useful in science - types of plants, history - inventions, vehicles) synonyms (these lists perfectly show the importance of using the correct word to give the correct meaning such as the difference between "chastise" and "punish" or "competent" and "qualified", homonyms, words commonly mispronounced, dictation exercises, definitions.
The meat of the material is in the selections. Approximately 2/3s of the material is directly Catholic (i.e. saints stories, Church history, Catholic writings, etc.) The rest of the material includes good literature that makes for a firm foundation in Catholic moral development. The virtues are emphasized in the selections setting good examples for the children to follow in their daily lives.
There are reading comprehension and answer keys available.
De La Salle Readers
The De La Salle Readers are reprinted from the early 1900s. They were used in Catholic schools by the Christian Brothers. The content of these readers compares with the Catholic National Readers.
The description given inside the fourth reader sums up our thoughts:
"In addition to giving the pupil practice in reading and forming a basis for oral and written composition work, these selections will raise his ideas of right living, will quicken his imagination, will give him his first knowledge of many things, stimulate his powers of observation, enlarge his vocabulary, and correct and refine his mode of expression.
The pupil will find fables, nature studies, tales of travel and adventure, brave deeds from history and fiction, stories of loyalty and heroism, examples of sublime Christian self-sacrifice, and selections that teach industry, contentment, respect for authority, reverence for all things sacred, attachment to home, and fidelity to faith and Country."
This includes language study, recitations, poetry, memory gems (wonderful!!), and biographies. We have found all the benefits that are listed above in using these readers!
The answer keys for these readers provide answers for the reading comprehension questions as well as answers for the other work requested in the readers.
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