tag:hmr.posthaven.com,2013:/posts The Houghton Mifflin Readers (1971) 2017-05-04T21:49:57Z John Hilgart, Proprietor tag:hmr.posthaven.com,2013:Post/877224 2015-07-04T19:12:17Z 2017-05-04T21:49:57Z The Houghton Mifflin Readers (1971): Cover Gallery

Beginning in 1971, when the first edition was published, untold numbers of U.S. schoolchildren worked their way through The Houghton Mifflin Readers (HMR). They were the core of my hometown’s elementary school English curriculum at least into the 1980s, and as recently as 2008, I saw classroom sets of two of the series’ volumes in an elementary school. 

I don’t know how widely they were adopted or how long the school systems that invested in them kept them at the core of the English curriculum, but the population of Americans who spent years with this textbook series must be large. And based on the response of some of my friends when I show them the books now, they left a very deep imprint.

However, despite being a culturally shared text with an extensive reach, HMR has long since vanished, as textbooks inevitably do. I’ve managed to track down all but the final volume, Diversity. As I never got that far in the series, I guess this is fitting. I am not worthy. 

HMR must have been one of the first large-scale renovations of the public school reader in the post-1968 United States. I was being taught with Dick & Jane style books the year before my school system adopted HMR in 1972.

The series included excerpts from some classic texts (and probably helped make or keep them canonical), such as The Wind in the Willows, Charlotte’s Web, The Pushcart War, and The Little Prince. But what is most striking about the series is its concerted effort to be culturally relevant – to be of its time, to correct the record, and to look forward – just three years after the King and Kennedy assassinations, in the midst of the Vietnam War, during the early days of a new youth culture.

As a result, the series is heavily focused on ethnic and class diversity, urban settings, social and environmental concerns, narratives of liberation, fantasy and science fiction, and an increased respect for kids as creatures with genuine interiority. Grammar instruction comes with speech bubble cartoons. The graphic influence of psychedelia is apparent in the interior illustrations and in the design of each volume’s distinctive graphic identity. The titles alone are a timestamp: Signposts, Panorama, Images, Diversity, Galaxies, Serendipity

Those were different times. The series, its gestation, and its editors deserve close study in that context. (The series editor was William K. Durr.) However, this gallery is not that study. The only objective here is to blow the minds of anyone who spent time with these books in elementary school and hasn’t seen them since. 

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John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:hmr.posthaven.com,2013:Post/877247 2015-07-04T19:39:32Z 2015-07-06T23:25:58Z Galaxies (The Houghton Mifflin Readers)

Art by Brad Holland. 

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John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:hmr.posthaven.com,2013:Post/877255 2015-07-04T19:48:38Z 2015-07-06T23:25:42Z Fiesta (The Houghton Mifflin Readers)

Art by Willi Baum.

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John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:hmr.posthaven.com,2013:Post/877274 2015-07-04T20:07:42Z 2015-07-04T20:07:42Z "The Open Road"

Poem: Ogden Nash

Art: John Freas

From: Panorama

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John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:hmr.posthaven.com,2013:Post/877288 2015-07-04T20:19:39Z 2015-07-04T20:19:39Z "The Fun They Had"

Art: Charles White III

Story: Isaac Asimov 

From: Images 

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John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:hmr.posthaven.com,2013:Post/877295 2015-07-04T20:29:22Z 2015-07-06T23:25:24Z Panorama (The Houghton Mifflin Readers)

Art by Donald Leake

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John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:hmr.posthaven.com,2013:Post/877314 2015-07-04T22:04:56Z 2015-07-04T22:04:57Z "A Car Called Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang"

Art: John Freas

Story: Ian Flemming

From: Kaleidoscope

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John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:hmr.posthaven.com,2013:Post/877341 2015-07-05T01:05:08Z 2015-07-06T23:25:04Z Kaleidoscope (The Houghton Mifflin Readers)

Art by Jerry Pinkney.

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John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:hmr.posthaven.com,2013:Post/877343 2015-07-05T01:19:31Z 2015-07-05T01:19:31Z "Why I Did Not Reign"

Poem: Eve Merriam

Art: Donn Albright

From: Images 

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John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:hmr.posthaven.com,2013:Post/877353 2015-07-05T02:37:39Z 2017-05-01T01:01:33Z "The Book that Saved the Earth"

Art: Ed Emberley

Story: Claire Boiko

From: Images

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John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:hmr.posthaven.com,2013:Post/877510 2015-07-05T18:55:01Z 2015-07-06T23:23:40Z Serendipity (The Houghton Mifflin Readers)

Art by Leo and Diane Dillon.

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John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:hmr.posthaven.com,2013:Post/877772 2015-07-06T03:10:03Z 2015-07-06T03:10:03Z "A Day for Antonio"

Art/Photography: Kathy Arnold

Story: John Figueroa

From: Serendipity 

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John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:hmr.posthaven.com,2013:Post/878082 2015-07-06T22:46:29Z 2015-07-06T22:47:23Z "A Horse for Reg"

Art: Brad Holland

Story: Anne Huston & Jane Yolen

From: Images

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John Hilgart, Proprietor
tag:hmr.posthaven.com,2013:Post/878091 2015-07-06T23:12:33Z 2015-07-06T23:24:04Z Images (The Houghton Mifflin Readers)

Art by John Kuzich.

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John Hilgart, Proprietor