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Royal Readers

Page extract from a Royal Readers book. Contains content entitled 'Stories Of The Elephant' and a sketch drawing of elephants being used for labour.

Photograph: Descriptions of animals were a common feature of the Royal Readers.

The Royal Readers or the Blue Readers were introduced into Queensland schools in 1892. Other books including the first four books of Blackie's Century Readers and the sixth book of Blackwood's Geographical Readers supplemented them.

The Royal Readers had been prepared especially for Victorian schools and featured some Australian content. The authors made great use of the natural world as well as incidents and common daily events to attract children to the stories.

Teachers were encouraged to teach children not only the 'art of reading' but also a 'love of reading'. Illustrations were used effectively to attract children 'through the eye' to the stories and to help them understand same.

These readers comprised:

  • fewer Bible stories and poems
  • descriptions of animals
  • stories/poems encouraging kindness, forgiveness, honesty
  • stories promoting the work ethic while laziness was discouraged
  • descriptions of world history including Australian history

During the 1890s and especially the early 1900s, the government came under increasing pressure to change the reading books again for the following reasons:

  • rapid scientific advances in the 1890s made the Royal Readers date quickly
  • introduction of a new syllabus in 1905 emphasized the need for education materials to be relevant to children's daily lives
  • demand for greater local content

Senior officers of the Department of Public Instruction did not support a change of reading scheme. They described the Royal Readers as excellent and still suited to their needs.

Page extract from a Royal Readers book. Contains content entitled 'The world we live in' and pictures of ships at sea.

Photograph: The Royal Readers also included sections of Useful knowledge on topics such as clothing, common things (e.g. gutta percha, sealing wax and whalebone), metals and The world we live in.

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Last reviewed
10 January 2013
Last updated
10 January 2013