As well as the many non-fiction books that Ladybird produced they were also responsible for many children of a certain generation learning to read through their Key Words Reading Scheme. This book, Picture Reading, was designed to fit in before children actually started reading though. The aim is to encourage parents to sit down with their children and to talk about what they see in the pictures and possibly relate what they see to things in their own lives.
Picture Reading was the only book in series 721 and was originally published in 1972. Harry Wingfield was responsible for the artwork for both this book and also most of the Key Words books.
As well as pictures to describe the book also has pages of "games" and activities to do with your children. From learning colours to matching objects and also deciding which objects go together in some way – like a key and a lock, or knitting needles and a ball of wool.
The living room scene that children are asked to talk about has a 70s feel about it and gives a good insight into different activities that children might have typically been doing at the time; dressing up knitting, playing with a doll and dolls house or a scalextric style car track. It's also interesting to note that despite there being a television in the picture it is turned off and next to it is a large bookcase which appears to be full of books or various shapes and sizes.
There's encouragement for children to understand what objects are for – everything ranging from a phone box to a grand piano – and also to appreciate different jobs.
Some of today's children may struggle to recognise the old fashioned ambulance and fire engine though – it makes you realise just how much emergency vehicles have changed over the years. The bus picture looks just like the London Routemasters that can still be found on the roads.
Books like this still have real value for today's toddlers and Little Miss C and I have sat down with this book several times to talk about the pictures together. A modern version might have different things in the pictures but a child's enthusiasm to talk about what they see and compare it to what they know at home is just the same. Looking back though it provides a great insight into what was important and familiar to children back in the 1970s.
If you have a collection of old Ladybird books then please feel free to join in with Ladybird Tuesday. There are no formal rules to follow, just leave a link to any post you write in the comments below and if you're feeling kind link back to my Ladybird Tuesday category here on Being Mrs C. Thanks!
I've also compiled an index of all the Ladybird Tuesday posts to date – organised by series. It satisfies my inner geek and hopefully will also be of interest to others too!