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The Ready to Read Collection

The Ready to Read collection contains texts that were developed in 1963 for New Zealand students learning to read. The Ready to Read series continues to be published today but they are very different from the books in this original collection.

We are grateful to the Ministry of Education for giving us permission to reproduce these works.

Before the Ready to Read series was developed, the New Zealand Department of Education provided the Janet and John series (imported from England) free to primary schools. (See Up the garden path: Janet and John revisited for Anne Else’s recollection of the Janet and John series.)

In the late 1950s, teacher dissatisfaction with the Janet and John books and the costs of an impending reprint prompted the School Publications Branch of the Department of Education to publish its own New Zealand series for young readers. The Ready to Read series was ground-breaking in that it was the first attempt to provide early reading materials that were also interesting stories reflecting children’s real lives and that used natural language. The books were distributed free to all New Zealand schools with infant (junior) classes.

The 1963 collection consisted of twelve “little books”, graded by colour (three books at each of four levels: red, yellow, blue, and green) and six longer anthologies. The little books and the first two of the anthologies are available on this site.

In the 1960s, there were very few New Zealand picture books so the books in this 1963 collection were almost the only source of New Zealand reading materials for young children. As well as providing an insight into the educational philosophy of the time, the books provide a delightful insight into children’s lives in 1960s New Zealand.

You can find more information about the Ready to Read series in this brief history provided by the Ministry of Education.

Note that the books were reprinted many times and show a range of reprint dates.