Publications: Readers and Primers, 1929-1933

From 1929 through 1939, known under the series title Readers and Primers, the American Library Association produced a series of lists to support collection development in children’s libraries. Each publication is a rich with recommendations of contemporary children’s literature. Read on to learn more about early Readers and Primers!

The Section for Library Work with Children, (later Association for Library Service to Children) organized the Committee on Readers and Printers to prepare a list of series of readers and books for directing the informal reading of younger children in libraries. Chaired by Elizabeth D. Briggs, in 1929, the Committee produced 2 lists. The first list was 12 series of readers, and the second list was 23 separate books (as seen in the 3 images above). Following the introduction’s explanatory note, the Outline of Standards includes selection criteria for inclusion in the list.

In 1933, chaired by Los Angeles Public Library Directory of Work with Children Gladys English, the new publication expanded on Los Angeles City School Librarian Marion Horton‘s list found in the 1926-1931 A.LA. Catalog (Record Series 13/15/12). This new 1933 publication featured 2 different lists. The first list Easy Reading Books included 22 titles, and the second list Readers for the First Three Grades included 15 titles. Following the introduction, this publication also featured criteria for evaluating book titles for recommendation.

During the first few decades of the twentieth century, a great variety of bibliographic lists were produced by A.L.A. offices including the Readers and Primers, Early Reading Books, and Readers for the First Three Grades. These expert-consulted and professional-curated book reading lists laid the foundation for later ambitious reading service publications and programs from future A.L.A. members to librarians and book readers everywhere.

Copies Available at Your ALA Archives

Physical copies of early Readers and Primers book lists are available for viewing at the ALA Archives. Please view the Record Series 24/33/15 database record entry, for more information.

Got Something to Donate to the Story So Far?

Many people have been involved in the long history of A.L.A. publications and bibliographic work. Do you have any information about early Readers and Primers, Early Reading Books, and Readers for the First Three Grades participants, collaborators, publications, or beneficiaries? Please contact us through social media. We and our readers would like to read about it.

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