Fun with Dick and Jane

We Look and See by Williams Gray Cover, red background with cat and dog playing

Cover of We Look and See

By William S. Gray et al. Scott, Foresman and Company, 1947

We Look and See

Written by William S. Gray, Dorothy Baruch, and Elizabeth Rider Montgomery

Illustrated by Eleanor Campbell

Chicago: Scott, Foresman and Company, 1947

5.8" x 7.8"

Kerlan Collection, Children's Literature Research Collections

University of Minnesota Libraries

Fun with Dick and Jane by William S. Gray cover, blue background with Dick, Jane, and Spot playing

Cover of Fun with Dick and Jane

By William S. Gray et al., Foresman and Company, 1947

For 40 years, school books about Dick and Jane—young suburbanites with sunny dispositions and placid, predictable lives—taught millions of American first-graders to read. Introduced in 1930, the ubiquitous readers were updated every five years. Until the mid-1960s, when the series' popularity was already in decline, both text and illustrations presented an all-white portrait of middle-class American life.

The major role assigned to illustration in the series, as well as its systematic reliance on short words and familiar storylines, demonstrated a greater sensitivity to child-centered learning than had comparable books of the previous century. Nevertheless, by the 1950s, it was clear from national test results that the Dick and Jane books were not doing their job. Writing in Life, journalist John Hersey asked why school texts of such pivotal importance could not have real literary merit, and why they could not be illustrated by an "imaginative genius" like Dr. Seuss.


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We Look and See by William S. Gray title page, Sally is chasing Puff and Spot

Title page of We Look and See

By William S. Gray et al. Scott, Foresman and Company, 1947

We Look and See by William S. Gray interior page, Dick and Jane are looking for Spot, they find him in a bush

Interior page of We Look and See

By William S. Gray et al. Scott, Foresman and Company, 1947