I Loved to Read in Grade School (in the 1960s)

by AngelaJohnson

Our mother read to us every night when we were young. She also enrolled us in a children's book club and subscribed to two children's magazines. I've been reading ever since.

And when I was in kindergarten, our teacher read to us while holding up large books, much larger than the one in this photo. Each page had a few sentences and large, color illustrations.

In the early grades, we learned to read simple words from our Dick and Jane school readers, but later switched to learning to read with phonics.

There was also the Weekly Reader Program.in grade school. We received a new Weekly reader newspaper each Friday. We had plenty of books at home and could also check out books from a Bookmobile and school library. I loved to read as a child and never stopped. My favorite books then and now are mysteries.

A Teacher Reading to her Class

photo credit - https://www.flickr.com/photos/10799351@N00/5905443607/
Teacher Reading to Her Class
Teacher Reading to Her Class

Fun with Dick and Jane Storybook Collection

The Ultimate Dick and Jane Storybook Collection
Only $8.20

An Early School Reader

Our teachers used the "Dick and Jane" readers in my early grade school years. The books had simple words and sentences and were illustrated in color. We learned to read words and then put them together in sentences. We didn't use the books all through my grade school years because we also learned to read by using phonics.

Dick and Jane were a little boy and little girl who were featured in each reader. Then there was Baby (Sally), Mother, Father, Spot (a dog), Puff (a cat) and Tim (a teddy bear).

The one volume Ultimate Dick and Jane Storybook Collection includes:
  • We Look and See
  • We Come and Go
  • The New We Work and Play
  • Guess Who
  • The New We Come and Go
  • The New We Look and See

You can also buy individual Dick and Jane hardback books and paperback versions.

Dr. Seuss Books Are Timeless

My mother read Dr. Seuss books to us and then I learned to read them myself. We belonged to a children's book club and it was so exciting when a new Dr. Seuss book came in the mail.

Many years later, I read these books to my own son and he learned to read them, too!!


Dr. Seuss's Second Beginner Book Collection 


Dr. Seuss Books

Dr. Seuss books
Dr. Seuss books



Dr. Seuss's Fox in Socks has been troubling tongues—and garnering giggles—since 1965.


Written specifically to be read aloud, it features a tricky fox in socks and the progressively more difficult tongue-twisting games he plays on his exasperated friend Mr. Knox. This beloved classic will have babies and children of all ages laughing with—and at—their parents as they struggle, like Knox, to blab such blibber blubber as muddle puddle tweetle poodle beetle noodle bottle paddle battle!


  • Age Range: 3 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2

Utah State Library Bookmobile (circa 1965)

Utah State Library Bookmobile (circa 1965)
Utah State Library Bookmobile (circa 1965)

I Couldn't Wait for the Bookmobile to Come

Our bookmobile was a little larger than the one in this photo

In 1961, when I was six years old, we moved to a small new subdivision in St. Louis county, Missouri. My mother didn’t drive, so we couldn’t go to a neighborhood library. We could check out books from our school library, but not in the summer.

But that’s when we got to go to the bookmobile. Every two weeks the bookmobile would come to the Volunteer Fire Department’s parking lot. It was within walking distance, so we could go by ourselves. There were lots of books to choose from and they must have changed their stock often because I always found different books to check out.

We were allowed to check out six books at a time and I always finished reading my books way before it was time for the bookmobile to come back. But my sister and brother also checked out six books each, and we often liked to read each other's books.

Even though I love the internet, I still love to read books I can hold in my hand.

There are still bookmobiles today, mostly going to rural areas.

bookmobile image source

Girl Looking Through a Book in a Bookmobile

Girl reading in bookmobile.

Receiving Magazines and Books in the Mail

Besides subscribing to a children's book club, my mother also subscribed to two children's magazines. First, we received Humpty Dumpty, then as we got a little older, she subscribed to Jack and Jill.

Jack and Jill is a magazine for children 7 to 10 years old and has been in print for 75 years.

Both magazines published nonfiction articles, poems, games, recipes, crafts, and more. And I can hardly believe it, but you can still receive subscribe to these magazines today!

Humpty Dumpty Magazine

Humpty Dumpty Magazine
$29.94  $23.94

Jack and Jill Magazine

Jack & Jill
$29.94  $23.94

Our Teacher Read Charlotte's Web to the Class

by E.B. White

I think it's great when teachers read books to their classes. I doubt I would have known about this book otherwise.

I later read Charlotte's Web myself when I got a little older, and as an adult, I read it to my son when he was young.

Charlotte the spider used her web high up in Zuckerman's barn to help save a little pig named Wilbur, who simply wants a friend. There is also Fern, who saved Wilbur's life when he was born the runt of his litter.

E. B. White's Newberry Honor Book is a tender novel of friendship, love, life, and death that will continue to be enjoyed by generations to come. It contains illustrations by Garth Williams, the acclaimed illustrator of E.B. White's Stuart Little and Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series, among many other books.

I Also Loved to Read Comic Books

When I was in grade school, there was a small convenience store within walking distance where we bought candy and comic books. At that time, our allowance was 20 cents a week, although we could make a littlemore if we did extra chores at home.

The candy in the store was mostly penny candy, although there were nickel candy bars. There was also a comic book vending machine. I remember the comics cost 12 cents each. So I could get a comic and some candy with my weekly allowance.

I bought the Harvey comics, not the Marvel super hero ones. I liked Donald Duck, Little Lulu, Baby Huey, Richie Rich, Dot, Hot Stuff the Little Devil, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Wendy the good Witch, and similar comics. Later, when I was in the upper grades (grade 5 and 6), I started buying Archie comics, and later Superman and other super heroes.

About that comic book machine..... no one I’ve talked to remembers one, but I did find one mentioned on a blog post. It looks like the one I remembered and even has the same price of 12 cents. Too bad they didn’t put some vintage comics in it to show how it would have looked like..


~ You can read about the comic book machine here. ~


The Nancy Drew Mystery Series

Nancy Drew is smart, full of adventure, and daring. Her father is Carson Drew, a lawyer. Nancy is looked after by their housekeeper since Nancy’s mother is not living. Nancy has two close friends, Bess Marvin and George Fayne (female) who always end up in her adventures. Her boyfriend Ned Nickerson he helps, too, but worries about Nancy getting into danger. Nancy Drew and her friends solve all kinds of exciting mysteries.

My sister and I had two cousins that were close to our age, and our mother bought them Nancy Drew books for Christmas one year. If we were VERY CAREFUL and had clean hands, she let us read the books before she wrapped them. Since she knew we liked them, we received some books of our own for that same Christmas, but with different titles. We received Nancy Drew books for several Christmases after that, too.

Within a couple of years, I read every single Nancy Drew book that was published and even read them more than once.

The author of the Nancy Drew Mystery Series books was listed as Carolyn Keene, but this was actually a .pseudonym for many authors who wrote both the Nancy Drew and Dana Girl books. There were 56 Nancy Drew titles published between 1930 and 1979.

The earliest Nancy Drew books (#1 - 30) were issued with dust jackets, but that was before my time.  I’d like to read an early book actually printed in the 1930s and 1940s.

Beginning in 1959, the early books were revised and shortened. These would have been the books I read. They were hardcover with yellow covers and an illustrated picture on the front.

Another series of Nancy Drew paperback books were published between 1979 and 1981, but I was an adult then and didn’t read them.

Even newer versions have been published since then and there was also a TV series. Nancy Drew is timeless.

The Three Investigators

This is another mystery series I liked. The Three Investigators were Jupiter Jones, Bob Andrews and Peter Crenshaw; probably around 13 or 14 years old.

Jupiter’s Uncle Titus and Aunt Mathilda have a scrap yard and the boys spend lots of time there. They sometimes solve a mystery through a client or accidentally stumble upon something unusual. Most of the time the mystery involves strange, mysterious, or even supernatural phenomenon, but at the end of the book, they figure use reason and logic to solve the case.

The Three Investigators have bicycles to get around with, use the telephone or library to find information, and when they need to go somewhere far away, they have the use of a chauffeur-driven car, which was won in a contest.

The last chapter of each book is when the investigators review the mystery and explain their deductions with Alfred Hitchcock.

Alfred Hitchcock didn’t actually write the books, but as a famous mystery writer, gavehis name to promote the mystery series.

Robert Arthur was the first writer of the series and then other writers took over. 43 books were published from 1964 to 1987. I don’t know if I got to read them all, but I read all the books the library had.

The books are no longer in print, but individuals have them for sale on Amazon, and they may also be on eBay.

photo credit

The Three Investigators Books

for ages 10 - 13
Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators in the Mystery of the Green Ghost

Bob, Pete, and Jupiter try to solve the mystery of the green phantom and become involved with ruthless pearl smugglers

Only $2.95

View on Amazon

Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators in The Mystery of the Vanishing Treasure

Book by Hitchcock, Alfred

Only $2.95

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Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators in The Mystery of the Nervous Lion

Hired to discover why a wild-animal farm's tame lion has become unpredictably nervous, three young detectives begin an investigation that uncovers a smuggling operation.

Only $2.95

View on Amazon

Updated: 10/22/2018, AngelaJohnson
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AngelaJohnson on 10/24/2018

Veronica - It's fun to remember childhood books. I just remembered I read the Pippi Longstocking books, too. I'll have to see if I can find them to read again.

Veronica on 10/24/2018

What a superb topic for an article. My dad was an avid reader and I have always been too.

I read to my boys when they were young and we read to our grandchildren when we can

One thing I loved at Primary school was when we had the story time on the radio. I used to go out and spend my birthday money on books we heard on the radio at story time.

I have never heard of the three investigators.

My favourite childhood books were "The LIon the witch and the wardrobe" and also "The wheel on the school ".... both of which I bought for my sons .

AngelaJohnson on 10/23/2018

Mira - Actually, I'm still surprised they are still publishing children's magazines with so many kids having access to digital devices. But there's nothing like the thrill of getting something in the mail, and then holding it in your hands, reading it, and working on the projects.

AngelaJohnson on 10/23/2018

frankbeswick - there are still bookmobiles or traveling libraries here in the states. There are many rural areas without libraries.

Mira on 10/23/2018

This was all very interesting, especially the magazines. We had very few magazines here in Romania as children.

frankbeswick on 10/23/2018

We called book mobiles travelling libraries. I grew up on a large under-resourced council estate where the library came round once a week. Until the council caught up with library building and we got a nice new library the travelling library was my main access to a steady supply of books.

AngelaJohnson on 10/22/2018

DerdriuMarriner - No, I've never read about unexplained mysteries. I do like mysteries set in another time period such as the 1920s - 1940s or set in other countries. I don't care for mysteries with real graphic descriptions of crimes.

DerdriuMarriner on 10/22/2018

AngelaJohnson, Thank you for the backstories and the product lines. Are you a fan of current-set or historical mysteries, such as those in ancient Egypt? Do you ever read the young adult-type mysteries about the unexplained, such as about the Mary Celeste?

AngelaJohnson on 10/22/2018

katlem2 - Yes, that's true. My mother read to us when we were children, we all read throughout school and adulthood.

I read to my son when he was a child, he read all thorough school, too, and into adulthood, and now reads to his child.

katiem2 on 10/22/2018

Reading as a child is such a vital experience to embrace. While some kids read better than others it is important that each child has reading material on their level and pertaining to their interest. Reading opens up a whole new
world of possibilities and interest.

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