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y separately published work icon Victorian Readers series - publisher   anthology  
Alternative title: The Victorian Reading-Books
Issue Details: First known date: 1928-1930... 1928-1930 Victorian Readers
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Preface to Victorian Readers: Eighth Book (1929):

As the need for a Primer and First Book of modern type and for the provision of more space in The School Paper for articles of current interest had been felt for some time, it was decided last year [1927] to proceed with the preparation of a series of reading books (eight in number) to be published by the Government Printer. The selection of matter and the obtaining of drawings from local artists to illustrate it were entrusted to committees of inspectors and teachers, with Mr. J. C. Lowry, B.A. (a senior inspector of schools), as chairman, and Mr. C. R. Long, M.A., as editor.

This book - the most advanced of the projected series - is the first to be issued. The main aim of the committee that made the selections for it was to obtain such as possessed literary merit, were informative, were likely to arouse interest, and were suitable as regards the average standard of attainment of the grade or forms for which the book was intended. The young readers were to begin at home, to be taken in imagination to various parts of the Empire, to Europe, and to the United States of America, and thus to gain knowledge of their rich heritage and acquire a well-founded pride of race. The inculcation of sound morality was always to be kept in view, and support given to the creation of a feeling against international strife and to the implanting of a desire for world-wide toleration. The grouping of the selections (story, essay, poem etc.) in order to secure continuity of thought - one selection serving to reveal and support another - was to be aimed at throughout, so that the contents of the book might not be a mere collection of unrelated items, but approach as nearly as possible to a unity.

The committee was of the opinion that notes and explanations to aid in the securing of intelligent reading would be advantageous, but that they should not be unduly elaborate or very numerous, and that they should form a section at the end of the book. It is hoped that those which have been provided will not only prove helpful in themselves, but will also suggest interesting lines of study (critical, etymological, biographical, historical, geographical, etc) that may be followed up to advantage by some of the young readers, if not by all.

Though it was recognized that the local production of a series of reading-books to compare favourably with those issued by leading British publishers would not be easy of accomplishment, yet it was believed that the effect of the use of such a series in the schools and in the pupils' homes would make the effort well worth while.

Includes

1
y separately published work icon The Victorian Readers : First Book First Book of the Victorian Readers Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1928 Z1440815 1928 anthology poetry children's fiction short story Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1928
2
y separately published work icon Victorian Readers : Second Book Second Book of the Victorian Readers Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1930 Z1174212 1930 anthology children's fiction poetry essay prose children's Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1930
2
y separately published work icon Victorian Readers : Second Book Second Book of the Victorian Readers Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1930 Z1174212 1930 anthology children's fiction poetry essay prose children's Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1937
3
y separately published work icon Victorian Readers : Third Book Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1930 Z1434253 1930 anthology poetry prose children's fiction drama Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1930
3
y separately published work icon Victorian Readers : Third Book Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1930 Z1434253 1930 anthology poetry prose children's fiction drama Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1940
4
y separately published work icon Victorian Readers : Fourth Book Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1930 Z1429605 1930 anthology poetry prose Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1930
4
y separately published work icon Victorian Readers : Fourth Book Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1930 Z1429605 1930 anthology poetry prose Melbourne : 1940
5
y separately published work icon Victorian Readers : Fifth Book Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1930 Z1439619 1930 anthology poetry prose Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1940
5
y separately published work icon Victorian Readers : Fifth Book Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1930 Z1439619 1930 anthology poetry prose Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1930
6
y separately published work icon Victorian Readers : Sixth Book Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1929 Z1417043 1929 anthology poetry prose children's fiction essay extract Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1929
6
y separately published work icon Victorian Readers : Sixth Book Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1929 Z1417043 1929 anthology poetry prose children's fiction essay extract Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1940
7
y separately published work icon Victorian Readers : Seventh Book Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1930 Z1427642 1930 anthology poetry children's fiction extract prose drama essay Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1930
7
y separately published work icon Victorian Readers : Seventh Book Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1930 Z1427642 1930 anthology poetry children's fiction extract prose drama essay Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1940
8
y separately published work icon The Victorian Reading-Books : Eighth Book Victorian Readers : Eighth Book Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1928 Z1428467 1928 anthology poetry prose children's fiction essay Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1940
8
y separately published work icon The Victorian Reading-Books : Eighth Book Victorian Readers : Eighth Book Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1928 Z1428467 1928 anthology poetry prose children's fiction essay Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1928
8
y separately published work icon The Victorian Reading-Books : Eighth Book Victorian Readers : Eighth Book Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1928 Z1428467 1928 anthology poetry prose children's fiction essay Melbourne : Victoria Education Department , 1929

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Works about this Work

Growing up Australian: The National Imaginary in School Readers Jane McGennisken , 2012 single work criticism
— Appears in: Papers : Explorations into Children's Literature , vol. 22 no. 1 2012; (p. 142-155)
From the late 1800s to the 1950s, the ‘School Reader’, a graded and illustrated anthology of stories, poems, essays and extracts from longer works, was an indispensable part of Australian classroom life. This paper considers the Readers’ literary and visual production of the child/nation (Author abstract).
Huts in the Wilderness : Pioneering in School Readers Jane McGennisken , 2010 single work criticism
— Appears in: Journal of Australian Studies , March vol. 34 no. 1 2010; (p. 35-47)
'The propagation of a national imaginary is a central concern of early twentieth-century School Readers. Produced by various state education departments from around Australia, these reading books draw on the literary and visual effects of a maturing Australian imagination, instituting a particular narrative of the nation's history and development. This story, what I am calling a metanarrative of national growth, encompasses heroic portraits and finely drawn landscapes. In the telling, it reiterates that which, for the colonial or settler subject, is a profoundly reassuring and powerful quest narrative. This article examines significant textual and visual instances of how portrayals of an Australian pioneering spirit play out as part of School Reader fantasies of national growth.' (p. 35)
Naked Nightmares Robert Drewe , 2009 single work autobiography
— Appears in: The West Australian , 19 December 2009; (p. 22)
y separately published work icon The 'Victorian Readers' Clare Bradford , 2008 St Lucia : AustLit: The Australian Literature Resource , 2007 Z1773370 2008-2007 single work criticism

'The Victorian Readers subset profiles one important group of texts for Australian children. But the Victorian Readers have much in common with the Tasmanian Readers, the Queensland Readers and the Adelaide Readers: they were developed and used in state and independent schools in the decades following Federation; and they share many of the same components, since favourite texts were frequently recycled. To read these collections and to ponder on the socialising agendas evident in the selection and arrangement of excerpts and in the ways in which texts were modified, is to understand how these school readers positioned children as Australian subjects.' - author's conclusion


'A Little Child Shall Lead Them' : Tasmanian and Victorian School Readers and National Growth Jane McGennisken , 2008 single work criticism
— Appears in: Papers : Explorations into Children's Literature , June vol. 18 no. 1 2008; (p. 5-12)

Jane McGennisken's essay looks at mythologies of Australian childhood identity and practices of 'nation-building' as evidenced in some of the stories included in the First and Second Books of the Victorian and Tasmanian Readers. First published in 1928, eight books make up the collection of fiction and non-fiction stories that became the standard reading/literacy materials used to teach English up until the 1950s.

McGennisken argues that the texts construct a particular image of the Australian child which becomes 'the central element around which ideals of Australia and Australian nationhood are constructed' (5). She claims that in both the Tasmanian and Victorian readers, 'themes of national growth negotiate bwteen innocence and knowingness, informed by the figure of the [idealized] child, selective memories and collective imagining' (5). After analysing a number of stories in detail, McGennisken concludes that the representation of children that populates the stories in the Readers serve to reinforce notions of an ideal, uniquely Australian child' that is 'inevitably a child of the bush' (10).

According to McGennisken, 'themes of national growth in the Readers' work effectively to 'displace Aboriginal Australians and their claim to the country 'with a new generation of 'natives' whose presence will endure the nations' continuing development and its white national identity' (10). In this sense, the reader's functioned within educational institutions as prescribed material that looked to 'shape future Australian citizens through the ideological production of children by text' (11).

y separately published work icon Victorian School Books : A Study of the Changing Social Content and Use of School Books in Victoria, 1848-1948, with Particular Reference to School Readers Desmond R. Gibbs , Melbourne : 1987 Z1422959 1987 single work thesis

Author's abstract: The books from which Victorian children learned to read last century held a variety of implicit social and moral values. To many children in isolated, pioneering districts of Victoria, the secular Reader was the principal source of information and ideas. The more advanced of the Irish and British Readers contained a huge variety of factual knowledge in combination with extracts from the best of English literature. Although these imported Readers underwent exclusions, adaptations and revisions, the content remained essentially foreign to colonial Australia, with a pervading moral stance originating in the high-minded intellectual and cultural traditions of Europe.

Throughout the nineteenth century, there was undue emphasis on the mechanical aspects of grammar in the elementary school curriculum. In the minds of Victorian educators, the study of grammar was firmly linked with the cultivation of high ideals and an intellectual understanding of life. In reality, the grammar books were sensible and straightforward, but badly used by the poorly-educated teachers. The popularity and cheapness of the Irish and British grammar books prevented the adoption of a number of locally-produced texts.

This thesis examines the changing content and use of school books during three distinct periods: the Irish monopoly, 1848-1877, the British phase, 1877-1896 and a National phase, 1896-1948. During the first phases, there were impressive local text-book publications, reflecting a desire for more local, relevant knowledge for Australian school children and a developing independence from the Home country. Most failed to secure official patronage and had limited circulation. The more successful ones attempted to meet the needs of new curriculum programmes, emphasising local knowledge relevant to colonial children.

In 1896 Charles Long produced the monthly School papers which were eminently Australian and less literary than the Readers, but which continued to support conservative social values and the concepts of British imperialism. Long's Victorian readers from 1928 were set in the same mould of Victorian morality, but with an Australian theme: a rural romantic dream of the Australian bush. This series was to dominate Victorian schools for another thirty years. During this period many successful and impressive Australian text-books were written and adopted by the Education Department to meet the needs of a changing curriculum. Centralised control of the school curriculum, from the formation of a Board of Examiners, coincided with a period of enormous colonial expansion and major administrative changes in colonial education. A 'uniform supply' of text-books gave some stability to the school curriculum, establishing set standards of work and a range of graded reading material. The scantily-educated teachers depended on the books, and teaching involved excessive drill and learning by rote. The aim was not to entertain, but to develop skills in reading and writing. Inspectors' reports suggest that much depended on the manner in which the books were used, and there is evidence of successful teaching.

The books were comprehensive and cheap, but there were problems of supply and distribution which went unresolved, despite brisk local trading and the establishment of book depositories. Isolated rural schools suffered most from inadequate resources and support. The gradual Australianisation of texts and inclusion of items of quality Australian literature gave a sounder basis for learning and stronger cultural identity for young Australians. But even the best of the Australian texts maintained conservative assumptions on class, race, religion, work and morals. The selections from all the principal, nineteenth-century British and American writers suggest that the "cultural cringe" in Australia was alive and well throughout the period and that the curriculum was set to maintain the conservative social order, within the structure of a liberal education.

Readers in Victoria, 1896 -1968: II, The Victorian Readers P. W. Musgrave , 1995 single work criticism
— Appears in: Paradigm , May no. 16 1995;
y separately published work icon Imagining the World from the Classroom : Cultural Difference, Empire and Nationalism in Victorian Primary Schools in the 1930s and 1950s Vicki Macknight , Melbourne : 2005 Z1449220 2005 single work thesis
Untitled Clare Bradford , 2008 single work correspondence
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian , 5-6 January 2008; (p. 2)
In response to Robert Murray's column on the Victorian Readers: Fifth Book, Clare Bradford highlights AustLit's indexing of the complete contents of the Victorian Readers series.
'A Little Child Shall Lead Them' : Tasmanian and Victorian School Readers and National Growth Jane McGennisken , 2008 single work criticism
— Appears in: Papers : Explorations into Children's Literature , June vol. 18 no. 1 2008; (p. 5-12)

Jane McGennisken's essay looks at mythologies of Australian childhood identity and practices of 'nation-building' as evidenced in some of the stories included in the First and Second Books of the Victorian and Tasmanian Readers. First published in 1928, eight books make up the collection of fiction and non-fiction stories that became the standard reading/literacy materials used to teach English up until the 1950s.

McGennisken argues that the texts construct a particular image of the Australian child which becomes 'the central element around which ideals of Australia and Australian nationhood are constructed' (5). She claims that in both the Tasmanian and Victorian readers, 'themes of national growth negotiate bwteen innocence and knowingness, informed by the figure of the [idealized] child, selective memories and collective imagining' (5). After analysing a number of stories in detail, McGennisken concludes that the representation of children that populates the stories in the Readers serve to reinforce notions of an ideal, uniquely Australian child' that is 'inevitably a child of the bush' (10).

According to McGennisken, 'themes of national growth in the Readers' work effectively to 'displace Aboriginal Australians and their claim to the country 'with a new generation of 'natives' whose presence will endure the nations' continuing development and its white national identity' (10). In this sense, the reader's functioned within educational institutions as prescribed material that looked to 'shape future Australian citizens through the ideological production of children by text' (11).

Last amended 20 Oct 2008 14:00:52
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