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How would McGuffey teach reading if he were here today? First, he would be concerned about the content of pupil's reading. The habits, attitudes, and literary tastes. And morality, in McGuffey's thinking, was closely aligned with the Christian religion; no other foundation could produce true morality. Upon this basis he collected and wrote the selections for his famous Readers. Having a wide vocabulary is one of the most obvious results of a cultivated mind, and the best way to grow such a vocabulary is to learn words in their context, as in studying a selection from the Readers. Teachers and pupils talk together about the important ideas and noble thoughts presented in the Readers. Pupils read, reread, write, and ask and answer questions, and through it all they adopt more and more words into their own repertoire of available and useful vocabulary. For beginning reading, phonics is important. Children should be drilled on sounds before they begin reading and after they start reading. The McGuffey Primers and the McGuffey Speller help build for young children this kind of strong phonics foundation. These and other McGuffey principles are found in this Teacher's Guide.
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