The Junior Instructor, my First Encyclopedia

The other day I got out two of my favorite books from my childhood, The Junior Instructor, Books 1 and 2. These were originally published in 1916, and the ones my mom gave us as small children were published in 1956.

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I was looking for some of the children’s prayers I’d learned, and while I looked for them, I ended up stopping on almost every page, mesmerized by the bright, colorful, happy images.

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I was absolutely convinced that the boy in the picture was my big brother and couldn’t figure out how they had snuck a photo of him!

I remember as a little girl of about four years old, sitting with these tall, heavy books on my lap, enthralled with the images. I was fascinated by the full-sized color photos and paintings, and just assumed that a line drawing was waiting for someone with crayons to color it in. Oops!

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As I grew up and learned to read, I wanted to know all about the endless variety of subjects, from circuses, folk tales, history, weather and birds…

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I remember working very hard to memorize this sign language!

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…to songs, and what the farmer (or fireman, teacher, milkman, cowboy, policeman, secretary) does…

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…to finger plays, Smokey the Bear, aboriginal symbols, parties, math, games, escalators, and even a “futuristic” space ship.

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At the end are 20 pages of questions and answers that cover nearly everything a child could ask.

Now as I look through them, I notice some things I didn’t notice ever before. I see that many subjects have been enhanced with a story or poem, or both, possibly for the reader that is not interested in the dry factual text.

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Notice: “All small children should play outdoors at least three hours every day…” !

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I also noticed they show how to make a “spool knitter”, made out of a spool of thread and nails, which produces a long knitted rope. I made one of these when I was about 10 years old—and painstakingly looped the yarn over and under and around to make a colorful rope—and I bet this is where I got the idea.

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I found Junior Instructors available to buy on eBay, Etsy and Amazon, but none that were free to download.

Here are some more of my favorite pages from the Junior Instructors, Volumes 1 and 2, for your enjoyment!

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Detail of the embossed hard cover of Book 2

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