It can be hard to know which Ladybird book to choose from my collection to write about each week. There are some titles though that I’m so excited to tell you about. Last week’s addition to the collection is one such book – the Ladybird Learn to write book.
I was somewhat lucky to find this title as I’m trying to cut down on the amount I spend in charity shops and so have restricted myself to just looking for the familiar size and shape of Ladybird books and try to ignore everything else. Amazingly thought this was at the front of a stack in a local branch of Oxfam and the Ladybird logo on the cover caught my attention. Measuring 9 1/4″ x 7″ it’s a very different size to normal Ladybird books.
As well as the regular familiar Ladybird books there have been several other titles that they published over the years. In the 1980s they branched out into a series of workbooks to accompany all the Keyword reading scheme books and other educational titles that they published. I’d heard of these before by finding Learn to write was my first experience at seeing one in the flesh.
Published as part of series S812 Learn to write was I believe the first title in this series. The copyright date inside my copy is 1981, but I believe the book first appeared in a Ladybird catalogue in 1984 and that tallies with the date written on the front cover or my copy.
The style of the book is very obviously a workbook for children to work though as they develop their pen skills and writing ability. There’s plenty on letter formation in there that I recognise from the Ladybird Handwriting book, although drawing in the dragon’s teeth is a bit more modern in style.
When you look at some of the other titles in the same series though they appear more activity book like.
- Learn to write
- I can write
- Crossword Book 1
- Crossword Book 2
- Puzzles Book 1
- Puzzles Book 2
- Sport Billy Activity Book
- Major Tom’s Space Activity Book
- Learn to Count
- General Knowledge Quiz Book
- Sports Quiz Book
What is quite wonderful about the copy of Learn to write that I picked up is that it’s not been used at all. There’s a name and the year 1984 written very neatly on the front cover, but inside all the pages are clean as it was when first printed. Quite how it has managed to remain intact for 35 years with no child deciding to have a go with a pen or wax crayon is some sort of a miracle.
From what I can gather from the pages of an old Ladybird catalogue that a collecting friend shared with me the same format and size was also used for four playbooks in series S703 and a series of colouring books in series S779. These apparently took pictures from other Ladybird titles and used them as inspiration for children colour in the same pictures. How I’d love to get hold of some of them.
I’m not totally clear if all the titles listed in the catalogue were actually published or not though as some don’t match with those on the back cover of Learn to write. I can see though that this opens up yet another whole area of Ladybird history for me to delve into. I always used to assume that what Ladybird got up to in the 1980s wasn’t as interesting or exciting as what went before. How wrong I was!
Ladybird Tuesday is a regular feature here on Penny Reads where I delve into my Ladybird book collection and choose a title to share with my readers. The weekly series originally started on my old blog, Being Mrs C, and I’m now in the process of moving all those posts over to Penny Reads and also adding titles that I have acquired since then. A list is currently being compiled here of all the titles I have in my collection.