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William S. Gray, Professor of Education and Dean of the College of Education at the University of Chicago, began work in 1929 on a major revision of the “Elson Readers,” a tfab-sun_with_dick_and_jane-master-re_repopular basal series published by Scott, Foresman and Company. Organized around the daily life of two ordinary children, the “Dick and Jane” readers ultimately became the most widely used reading books in the country. Beginning in the 1940s, however, education critics claimed that the books contained stereotyped characters, and were sexist and racist. Although the books merely reflected the social aspirations of the time, Gray admitted that the upper-class, suburban setting was irrelevant to the lives of increasing numbers of children, and that this might be a factor in the poor reading progress of black and lower-class children. The controlled vocabulary and phonics method in the readers were also criticized, but these techniques were grounded in research, and Gray believed that phonics was an aid (not an end) to word tfab-burn_jane_burn-masterrecognition. If the offensive qualities of the Dick and Jane readers are seen in context–in terms of the entirety of Gray’s work, in comparison with what preceded, in the contemporary society, and in educational knowledge–and not judged in terms of later standards and according to an adult point of view, the complaints are less supportable. Guided by his goal of producing basals readable by children and suitable for teaching them to read, Gray produced a series of books which, more than any other series, incorporated recent developments in reading, introduced new stories using established juvenile authors and noted artists, and correlated content area reading with basal reading by means of interesting stories relating to children’s own lives. Seven pages of references, including articles, letters, and readers by William Gray are appended. (Source)