The Highlights Reel: Part 1

When you transition into the Hoarding Lifestyle — as we have been doing recently — you may uncover a great deal of flotsam.

Did I say ‘may’ uncover? Honey please. It is a dead certainty that you are going to end up with a whole room full of stuff that you have no memory of wanting to keep around.

Behold, Highlights for Children, April 1962. I’ll save you the mental math: that was 62 years ago. I was eight years old, or about to be.

I have no clue as to why I would have saved this particular issue.

I thumbed through it yesterday and was struck by a bunch of things, which I think I shall discuss over a few blog posts.

First of all, it is a product of its time, so occasionally you will find terminology that we would no longer use. (One story is about the main character bringing a baby rabbit to cheer up a “crippled” boy at the “Crippled Children’s Home”; the boy had had polio. Another includes the “fact” that Brazil was “discovered” by Pedro Alvarez Cabral.)

On the whole, however, it is astonishingly inclusive. There are stories/articles about:

  • A Burmese family farming rice
  • A Jewish family celebrating Passover
  • An American boy in a fishing contest
  • The Bible story of Gideon and his soldiers
  • A Iroquois legend about how Native Americans began to fletch their arrows, illustrated by the Chief of the Iroquois
  • The Couperin family of composers/musicians from the 17th century
  • Drawings by children of Tunisia

The texts range from “Preparation for Reading” through “Easy Reading” to “More Advanced Reading,” and there is a chart in the front, a Guide for Parents and Teachers, that lists every item in the issue and has check marks in those columns. (Other columns include “Manners, Conduct, Living with Others”; “Nature and Science”; “Stimulation to Think and Reason”; “Stimulation to Create,” et al.)

At the bottom of many pages is a black star — ★ — indicating a footnote for parents about the thrust of the item:

  • Learning to be kind to trees
  • For arousing kindly feelings towards a boy in Burma
  • For the child when he is ready to have phonics practice
  • Being a selfish or unselfish playmate (yes, this is Goofus and Gallant)

On the whole, I am rather impressed at the magazine’s organization and commitment to reading and learning. (Its founders were both well-known educators.)

And there’s more to discuss! Stay tuned.

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