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CONTROVERSIAL HISTORY OF DICK AND JANE
Dick and Jane
Dick and Jane books are among the most popularly collected school books. This is because the series of books was used for over 40 years in American schools. Gray, a renowned educational psychologist and reading authority from the University of Chicago, and pitched to him her philosophy that children are more receptive to reading if the books contained illustrations related to them and their lives. Gray was impressed enough to hire Sharp. In , Gray and William H.
Dick and Jane refers to the two main characters, "Dick" and "Jane", created by Zerna Sharp for a series of basal readers that William S. Gray wrote to teach children to read. The characters first appeared in the Elson-Gray Readers in and continued in a subsequent series of books through the final version that Scott Foresman published in These readers were used in classroom in the United States and in other English-speaking countries for nearly four decades, reaching the height of their popularity in the s, when 80 percent of first-grade students in the United States were learning to read through these stories. Although the Dick and Jane series of primers continued to be sold until and remained in use in some classrooms throughout the s, they were replaced with other reading texts by the s and gradually disappeared from school curriculum. The Dick and Jane series were known for their simple narrative text and watercolor illustrations. Despite the criticisms of the stereotypical content that depicted white, middle-class Americans and the whole-word look-say method of teaching reading on which these readers are based, the characters of "Dick," "Jane," and their younger sister, "Sally," became household words.