HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: McGuffey’s Fifth Eclectic Reader
Author: Alexander H. McGuffey
Publisher: John Wiley and Sons Incorporated, republished in 1997
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading level: Grades 5-6
Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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McGuffey, Alexander H. McGuffey’s Fifth Eclectic Reader (originally published in 1879; republished in 1997 by John Wiley and Sons Incorporated). William Holmes McGuffey published his famous series of Readers in 1836 and 1837. The original set included a Pictorial Primer, an Eclectic Primer, and four Eclectic Readers, along with a spelling book prepared by William’s brother Alexander H. McGuffey (1816-1896). William, who was born in 1800, died in 1873, and two revisions were made under the auspices of Alexander, each one with completely different selections. The first was done in 1857 and the other in 1879, and the second of these is what is carried today in most secular bookstores as the “McGuffey Readers.” In these revisions, the original set of four readers was expanded into six.
We used the original McGuffey Readers as republished by Mott Media in 1982, along with some related workbooks also published by Mott Media, as the core of our “language arts” (reading, writing, and spelling) curriculum for grades one through four, and then continued to use them through about ninth or tenth grade for vocabulary and additional reading. After we finished the fourth reader, I went ahead and purchased the fifth and sixth readers of the revised set so that we would have something similar for the junior and senior years of high school.
The revised readers lack some of the “uniquely Christian” flavor of the originals, having those elements removed for what was already by then becoming an increasingly secularized public school system, which was due in great part to the large influx of immigrants. However, even the revised editions are 100% better than the materials developed after the “progressives” gained a stranglehold on the public education system beginning in the early 1900s and started reshaping it in order to achieve the goals of their humanistic agenda. The revised edition of the McGuffey Readers is all right.