When I was in the Washington state elementary school system, we had textbooks. I don’t know if budget constraints or educational philosophies killed them off, but these days my daughter comes home with photocopied pamphlets. The pamphlets contain one story that uses words the kids are working on for the week, so we have to them, but none of them have been nearly as effective as my books from Theodore Clymer.
During the early 1980s, the school system relied on this series to introduce kids to reading. What makes these books so successful is word repetition; students feel like real readers fast when they can read full sentences by the end of the first book. What makes them so entertaining is the variety of stories they contain, repeating characters, and mix of photographic and hand-drawn illustration.
They also introduced us to Ken.
Ken is the bespectled fumbler in all of the Clymer books who can’t get anything right. Here he is failing to get a sandwich:
To the amusement of everyone else:
Someone is pointing and laughing at Ken on almost every page:
With good reason. Here he is dropping a ball on his face:
He even struggles to throw away trash:
Resulting in more derision:
Here’s Ken trying to read a book. By this point, I’m surprised he doesn’t drop it on his foot.
Damn, Ken. Get it together.