McGuffy Reader

Photo of William Holmes McGuffey, unknown date. Image source: William Holmes McGuffey.jpg (originally derived from Miami Univ. McGuffey Museum) by unknown author is licensed under Public Domain Mark 1.0

William H. McGuffy (1800-1873) developed his famous McGuffy Reader series while teaching at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio from 1826-1836. McGuffy Readers became the standard text for teaching students to read in elementary schools throughout the United States. More than 125 million copies have been sold, and they are still available for purchase today.

McGuffey's Readers and Speller were the books from which children learned to read and write in the 1800s and 1900s. The McGuffey Primer taught children to memorize the alphabet in order, and then to accurately pronounce words.

Stories included in the McGuffey Reader included adventures, poems, and fables, and each usually integrated a moral lesson. Sample titles of stories include:

Cover of McGuffey's First Eclectic Reader by William Holmes McGuffey, Truman and Smith Publishing, 1841. Image source: Cover of McGuffey's First Eclectic Reader.jpeg (originally derived from Miami University Libraries) by William Holmes McGuffey is licensed under Public Domain Mark 1.0

  • "The Greedy Girl"
  • "The Kind Little Girl"
  • "The Honest Boy and the Thief"
  • "The Effects of Rashness"
  • "On Speaking the Truth"
  • "Consequences of Bad Spelling"
  • "Decisive Integrity"

Popular authors were also included, such as Defoe, Irving, and Byron. The books were also known for their intricate illustrations.

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