Back to School
The summer is winding down and a new school year is fast approaching. The start of a new school year comes with a whole new set of hopes and expectations for the coming months. It's exciting, it's a little bit daunting, and it's a fresh start for a new year.
One of the things my kids always loved about this time of year was shopping for new school supplies. Pristine notebooks, shiny new rulers, not-yet-gnawed-on pencils... It's almost like an early practice run for Christmas!
As always it got me thinking about what it was like to start a new school year in the past, and what it could have been like for the characters from A Girl for All Time.
I did a little digging and turned up some interesting facts I did not know before. For example, even Tudor children would have had new school supplies in the form of a newly carved hornbook . That oldest one dates back to 1450 discovered in England and they were usually horn paddles ( or books ) that were covered with letters of the alphabet or numbers or perhaps a specific verse.
Victorian school children would have had chalk, slates, and maybe a few books that were carried all bundled together in a leather strap or - if they were lucky- in a leather satchel. Instead of notebooks like we have today, paper to practice writing on would have been pages of newspaper with plenty of space in between the print to practice your penmanship.
Mid-century American school children would have been reading Dick and Jane books while school children in the UK would have been reading Janet and John
Paper notebooks were really not affordable until the 1960s when they became readily available and were at a price most people could afford. Some of the designs produced during that time are still in use today. If you've ever had the black and white composition books, then you know the ones I am talking about!
School supplies may have changed over the years, but I don't think the excitement and anticipation about the new school year is any different today than it was centuries ago.
Written by Frances Cain - August 20 2018