The Commonwealth Spelling Book for African Schools. Part I. Words Dealing with Home and School Life, Food, Birds and Animals, Time, Weather, Months, and Days.
This is an interesting and rare text; a spelling book published for use in African schools. While the NLI holds both part I and part II, no other copy of part I could be located on World Cat or Copac and only one other copy of Part II could be located, in Trinity College Library Dublin. The text was part of the English Digest Commonwealth Series which also included The Commonwealth Grammar and Composition Book for African Schools, The Commonwealth Table Book and two map books of Africa. Interestingly, it was printed in Ireland by Cahill & Company Limited, Parkgate Printing Works, Dublin, and sold through Fallon’s Educational Supply Company in London, Dublin and Belfast. On the inside front cover the text notes that the Spelling Book Parts I and II ‘cover the vocabulary required for Composition work in Primary Schools. The words are grouped under headings with which every child is familiar - school, home, village etc., and thus provide assistance in the writing of essays’. In fact only the first four pages of the text consist of lists under such headings. Here, the text combines words that are specific and relevant to Africa and life in parts of Africa with words are much more relevant to a British setting. For example, the list of words under ‘Food’ includes ‘Antelope’, ‘cassava’, ‘guava’, ‘mango’, ‘pawpaw’ as well as traditional British foods like ‘marmalade’, ‘pastry’ and ‘pies’ (2). Likewise, the list of animals includes African animals like the ‘baboon’, ‘cheetah’, ‘elephant’ and ‘zebra’ along with the ‘horse’ and ‘hound’. ‘Time and Weather’ includes ‘drought’, ‘dust’ and ‘harmattan’ though it also includes ‘snow’ and ‘wintry’. After these lists, the text proceeds to other lists and sections such as ‘Words sounding alike or nearly alike but different in spelling and meaning’, ‘Some Simple Spelling Rules’, and ‘List of Words with Silent Letters’. ‘General Spellings’ takes up the remainder of the text from pages 11 to 20, consisting of a list of alphabetical words which do not appear to be relevant to African life and experience but does contain words like ‘christian’, ‘church’, ‘England’ (the only country mentioned) and words that may not have had any resonance with African children such as ‘circus’, ‘daffodil’, ‘poppy’. At the end of the text there is an advertisement for Fallon’s Spelling Book Part II.
English Digest Commonwealth Series
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Spelling Book, Literacy, Africa, Commonwealth, British Empire, Animals, Food, Weather
General Catalogue (Children’s Books) - NLI