In the months that I've now been running Ladybird Tuesday here on Being Mrs C I've not touched much on the huge number of learning to read books that they published. The Keywords reading scheme (series 641) was vast and many, many children remember learning to read with these "Peter and Jane" books.
I've not as yet tried to list all the books from the series that I have in my index, mainly because I have so many, but also as I'm trying to collect sets with each of the different cover styles – the ones that they were launched with and the later style which I remember being new when I was a child in the 1980s. The Key Word books were divided into 3 grades, a, b and c, with each grade having 12 books.
Little Miss C enjoys reading Peter and Jane books (or Peter and James as she likes to call them!) and they're often picked as bedtime stories. Some are longer than others and the early ones in the series can be quite tedious to read – there's only so many times you can read something as basic as "Here is Peter. Here is Jane. Here is Peter and Jane" before you get really bored.
Setting aside it's benefits in teaching children to read, the "story" is a series of examples about Peter and Jane helping people. It starts with them going on holiday to the seaside with their parents. Once there they go to see their friend Tom and help him with his boat. Now, looking at the pictures, Tom appears to be significantly older than Peter and Jane. They initially help Tom to paint his boat and then explore the inside of it. There's even an invitation from Tom to see where he eats and goes to bed.
Now, maybe I'm reading too much in to all this, but doesn't it all sound a tad strange to you? Two children helping some old man with his boat. Their parents no where to be seen and him then offering to take them out on his boat. Whilst they're out on the boat they then spot another boy in the water, having fallen in from his boat. Once again, no sign of this boy's parents either, although he is eventually taken home to them.
I know that things have changed a lot since the 1960s when this book was published, but I'm still a bit surprised to see children helping an old man who then invites them to go on his boat with them without some mention being made as to how they know him or telling their parents where they were going.
Later on in the book Peter and Jane are back home and they are helping their parents, grandparents and neighbours and also playing wholesome games with their friends, like you imagine children in the sixties doing. No games consoles or television for them. Statements like "Grandmother and grandfather do not go out much because they are old" do make me smile though. How times have changed.
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 vintage Ladybird books I own and everyone's Ladybird Tuesday posts to date – organised by series. It satisfies my inner geek and hopefully will also be of interest to others too!