Primer (textbook)

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A primer (in this sense usually pronounced /ˈprɪmər/,[1] sometimes /ˈprmər/) is a first textbook for teaching of reading, such as an alphabet book or basal reader. The word also is used more broadly to refer to any book that presents the most basic elements of any subject.[2]

The Latin Enschedé Abecedarium of the late 15th century, translated into English as the Salisbury Prymer, has been identified as the earliest example of a printed primer. It presented the alphabet and several Catholic prayers.[3]

Other historical examples of primers for children include The New England Primer (1680s) and McGuffey Readers (1836) in the US, and Bala Potam (Lessons for Children, 1850 & 1851) by Arumuka Navalar in Sri Lanka.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "primer, n.1". Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 31 May 2015. 
  2. ^ For example: DeSalle, Rob; Rosenfeld, Jeffrey (2013). Phylogenomics: A Primer. Garland Science. ISBN 978-0815342113. 
  3. ^ A Famous Book -- "The New England Primer", The New York Times, November 14, 1897