“Dick and Jane” Books Were Created Along the Shores of Lake Michigan
See Dick and Jane.
See Dick and Jane run.
Run, Dick and Jane, run.
Run, run run.
So simple but how memorable these books are to anyone who learned to read with these. Michigan elementary schools relied on these primers with simple words that kids from the age of 2 could understand.
It was along the shore of Lake Michigan that the idea for Dick and Jane books was hatched. Zerna Addis Sharp, an Indiana schoolteacher, was walking along the Lake Michigan beach when she noticed children playing nearby. She watched how the kids interacted with each other, how they spoke and played. That gave her the idea for the type of children’s book she was looking for. She wanted the characters ‘Dick & Jane’ to act in her books like the children she observed. She came up with the names – ‘Dick’, ‘Jane’, and ‘Sally’ - easy ones that kids could relate to – and the connections became relatable with kids all across the country. Oh yeah, and don’t forget their pets: Spot the dog and Puff the cat.
The very first Dick & Jane story appeared in the 1930 book “Elson-Gray”, a primer for pre-schoolers. From then on, they had their own series of books until the series folded in 1965; however, they are still in print and are still being sold.
The creator of “Dick & Jane”, Zerna Addis Sharp, passed away in 1981 at the age of 91.
Dick and Jane book school sales continued until 1973. The books were still used in classrooms through the 70s and finally replaced with other juvenile reading primers in the 80s.
And it all began on the shores of Lake Michigan.