What Were 4th & 5th Graders Reading in 1908?

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The Oklahoma public school system recently made a startling discovery when it uncovered classroom chalkboards with lessons and drawings from nearly 100 years ago. This unintentional time capsule gives us an interesting glimpse into the past, allowing us to compare public education practices then with those of today.

A similar opportunity presents itself with a 1908 public schools curriculum manual that Better Ed unearthed at the Minnesota Historical Society. We’ve reported on the recommended reading which the manual lists for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students. Here below are the reading recommendations for students in the 4th and 5th grades, with links to readily available online copies:

Fourth Grade

Four Old Greeks, Jennie Hall
Black Beauty, Anna Sewell
Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
Story of a Donkey, Madame La Comtesse De Ségur
Whittington and His Cat, Flora Steel
Stories from Plato, Mary Burt
Wigwam Stories, Mary Catherine Judd
Fanciful Tales, Frank Stockton
A Dog of Flanders, Óuida
Tent Dwellers, Dopp
Four True Stories of Life and Adventure, Jessie Smith
Story of Washington, Jessie Smith
The Pied Piper, Robert Browning
The Wonderful Chair and the Tales it Told, Frances Browne
Stories of American Life and Adventure, Edward Eggleston

Fifth Grade

The Water Babies, Charles Kingsley
King of the Golden River, John Ruskin
Hiawatha, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Docas, the Indian boy of Santa Clara, Genevra Snedden
King Arthur and His Knights, Howard Pyle
The Four MacNicols, William Black
The History of the Robins, Sarah Trimmer
Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Old Norse Stories, Sarah Bradish
Old Greek Stories, James Baldwin

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