FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Ask me a question! (Ladybird related!) and I'll try to answer it
Alternatively you can click on one of the questions other people have asked (written in blue).
Or you can take a look through the FAQs below:
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1) Reading Schemes
2) Buying and Selling old Ladybird Books
3) Collecting Ladybird Books
4) Searching for a particular book
Actually this series is still in print today! Although it was first issued in 1964, it has, over the decades, proved to be Ladybird's bestseller. Reading fashions come and go, but it has been worthwhile for ladybird to keep the series in print. You can still find these books in your local bookshop (in the UK) for, I think £2.50 a book. If you can't find them on the shelves, you will be able to order them or purchase them from an online book retailer (including direct from www.Ladybird.co.uk
The cover styles have changed quite a lot over the years and in the 1970s the artwork was extensively revised. But Murray's carefully crafted text has remained pretty well unchanged over the years. So if you remember the books from the late 1980s onwards, the pictures you find in the books today will probably match your memories. If your memories of the books predate this, you would need to get hold of the original version of the books with the original 1960s artwork.
Well one way would be to look at this page of the website of Martin Aitchison. Click on the gallery of 1960s artwork and then on the 1970s artwork page and see which one rings the strongest bells.
There were 36 books: 12 'a'books with blue covers, numbered from 1a - 12a, 12 'b' books with red/orange covers, numbered from 1b - 12b and 12 'c' books with green covers, numbered (you guessed it) from 1c - to 12c. There were also a few 'companion books to the series, including a reading-scheme handbook for parents called 'Teaching Reading', two 'Picture Dictionaries' and a few other titles. You'll find a complete list of the titles here.
There are 12 'levels' in the reading scheme. The 'a' book in each series introduces some new words. These words are then recycled in the 'b' books to give the child extra practice. The 'c' books are a bit different - tending to focus on writing and phonics. Every time new words are introduced they are carefull combined with the language already 'taught' in earlier levels. This means that Murray had very few options in the earliest levels of the series - having only a few 'key' words to construct his stories from and inevitably the text sounds very stilted. But this is where the wondeful illustrations came in; the child could make a story for themselves by 'reading' the detailed pictures accompanying the very sparce text. What's more, for the child who learns 'step by careful step' the series can prove reassuring.
Nah. That's a different reading series. The Janet and John books pre-date the Peter and Jane books and weren't published by Ladybird.
Not really. In the 1950s Ladybird, persuaded by Douglas Keen, were experimenting with books for the schools market and engaged an educationalist, M E Gagg, to write some 'early reading' books. This was series 563 called 'Learning to Read'. This series was popular with teachers and gave weight to Keen's argument that ladybird should produce a complete reading scheme. Although the 'Learning to read' series was illustrated by Harry Wingfield, who, along with Martin Aitchison, went on to illustrate many of the Peter and Jane books,it wasn't until Keen met Educationalis William Murray a few years later, in the early 1960s that the Peter and Jane books were conceived.
I've never been able to find a satisfactory answer to this one. Sorry!.
PS, someone (thanks Robert) has kindly emailed me with the following: "The typeface used in Books 3 to 6 is Gill Sans; Clarendon is used in Books 7 to 9 and 10c; and Times New Roman in Books 10a, 10b, 11 and 12".
So, can anyone solve the big question of books 1 and 2 (1960s version of the books)?
No, I'm afraid not. To get hold of them you'll have to track them down second-hand from car-boot sales or get them online from a site like mine ;-)
There were 54 books in the standard size: 21 books in level 1 (blue in colour) 16 books at level 2 (green colour) 10 books at level 3 (orange) 5 books at level 4 (purple) and 2 books at level 5 (reddish pink). There was also a larger sized book called 'Christmas in Puddle Lane' and a much larger 'annual' style book called 'The Puddle Lane Story Book'.
You'll find a complete list here.
Not really. Although I've always got masses of books available for sale, I'm a collector not a dealer. If you had a huge collection that you didn't mind selling for peanuts I might be interested ;-) But this would be for the fun of sifting through them and finding possible upgrades. There are a few dealers around who specialise in Ladybird Books. They might be interested - you can find their names easily enough on Google. Or you can sell them on eBay or Amazon; it's quite straightforward.
If you've got plenty of time and aren't looking for just a few, particular books then the best thing to do is to hunt around car-boot sales and charity shops - although there aren't as many around as there used to be. For particular titles, your best bet is a site like mine - or you can look on Amazon, eBay or Abebooks (www.abebooks.com)
I'm afraid there's not answer to that. Although you may be able to pick up many titles for about 50p each - I have paid as much as £300 for a book. (Hey! It was birthday present and Christmas present!) and I've certainly seen very rare books sell for even more.
No, probably not. Ladybird Books from the 1960s onwards were printed on tight timescales and in such vast numbers that mistakes were very common. There are many of these mis-printed books around and they have no value. However, some older (pre 1960s) books had mis-prints which might be of interest to a collector. For example, there is an unfortunate misprint in the first edition of What to Look for in Winter, which marks the book out as a first edition and therefore adds value. I've known a collector or two who collect copies with Erratum stickers and early mistakes of this kind.
No, I'm afraid not. Almost all the books of this era, for some obscure reason, state this.
Opinion differs a little on this, but probably most collectors would agree on The Impatient Horse (the only book in series 538) or High Tide (the last book in series 401).
I have heard that someone once paid over £600 for a book a few years ago. I have often seen a rarer title sell for around £300.
I buy mine online - Trimsleeve - the narrowest width is good for Ladybird Books here
On the back cover (or dj flap) of most Ladybird Books between 1964 and 1972 there is a line which states how many Ladybird Titles had been published at that time. This information can be useful when trying to date a book or discover which was the first edition.
'Buff' is the beigy colour typical of books published between 1960 and 1964. Originally there would have been a colourful dustwrapper covering these boards, so if a book has 'buff boards' and description of the book doesn't mention a dustwrapper, you know that it must once have had one. Dustwrappers were designed to protect the book so over the years they often grew very tatty and either fell off or were removed.
Books after 1965 were never issued with dustwappers - the cover picture was printed on the front cover and most books issued between 1965 and 1983 had covers with a dull, matt finish.
From the late 1970s Ladybird began experimenting with 'laminated' covers. They proved more durable and cheaper to manufacture this way and all books after 1983 have a glossy, 'wipe-clean' finish, sometimes abbreviated in book descriptions to 'lam'.
You should find a guide to Ladybird Cinderellas (hey! It's a niche market!) by clicking here.
That's the version of Bedtime Rhymes, edited by Audrey Daly, 1977.
That's also a book called 'Bedtime Rhymes, but that's a much earlier version - by Geoffrey Lapage, first printed 1946 - but in print for the next 20 years.