Sunday, January 29, 2017

1940: Join the My Weekly Reader Adventure Club

This subscription form appears on the back page (Page 4) of the June 10-14, 1940, edition of My Weekly Reader, Playtime Edition A.

This was a summer newspaper, intended for home delivery to children ages 6 through 8. There was also an Edition B, for ages 9 through 12. A subscription cost 50 cents, and it could be paid in coins, stamps, check or money order.

This subscription form encouraged young readers to get their friends to sign up, too, and offered a little prize if they did:
"DO YOU WANT to win a free Adventure Club button? You can win one, if you get one or more of your friends to subscribe to PLAYTIME WEEKLY READER. Show this copy of the paper to your friends and ask them to subscribe."
The version of Weekly Reader/My Weekly Reader that was published during the school year existed from 1928 through 2012. Its founder was teacher Eleanor Johnson, who has some important ties right here in York, Pennsylvania. This excerpt is from her 1987 obituary in The Washington Post:
Miss Johnson said she began developing the concept of a weekly news publication for the classroom because she felt children needed a more realistic view of the world's people and events than they were getting.

"I was an assistant superintendent of schools in York, Pa.," Miss Johnson said in a 1978 interview printed in The Washington Post. "I saw that children were being given a lot of myths and folklore to read but were utterly illiterate about what was happening in the world."

She said the idea for a weekly newspaper tailored to the needs of schoolchildren simmered for a full year before she met William C. Blakey, publisher of the American Education Press in Columbus, Ohio, in the summer of 1928. She told him about her idea, and he liked it.

"On a blistering Sunday in August we met in the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago and on the same day we mapped out policy and framework and format," Miss Johnson said in the 1978 interview. "A month later, he started putting {the Weekly Reader} out."

Miss Johnson returned to her job in York, but she advised members of Blakey's staff on how to write for the new publication and supplied them with model issues for guidance and a workbook that she had developed.
I'm not sure how long the summer Playtime Edition lasted. It might have been difficult for it to be financially viable when it was depending on the support of schoolchildren, rather than schools, for subscriptions. The issue that this advertisement is from is marked as Vol. IX, No. 1. Articles and features include:

  • An article on the annual Folk Song Festival in the mountains of Kentucky.1
  • An essay on the adventures you can have in your backyard by examining bugs, squirrels, clouds and more
  • A short story about a circus parade
  • A short story about a cowboy
  • Riddles2
  • A crossword picture puzzle
  • A contest asking kids to draw a "topsy-turvy" animal, such as a "cat-duck"

Related post
1957 issue of Senior Scholastic magazine

1. Photo footnote:

Read more about Jean Thomas on Wikipedia.

2. One of the riddles is: What bird tells what Will's father does when Will is a bad boy? Answer: Whippoorwill. NOT COOL, WEEKLY READER.

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