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Published: June 28, 2011

William S. Gray (1885–1960)

American educator, best remembered as creator of the ubiquitous “DICK AND JANE” BOOKS that served as first and second readers for children in almost every American elementary school from the 1920s until shortly after World War II. Thereafter, the development of more advanced (and entertaining) methods of teaching reading sent Dick and Jane into oblivion. A pioneer in the development of modern methods of teaching, Gray was born and educated in Illinois. Trained as a teacher, he earned his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago, where he was a faculty member from 1914 to 1950 and dean of the college of education from 1917 to 1931. He introduced a course in the teaching of reading at Chicago and organized the first of what would become annual reading conferences there. A prolific author of books and articles on methods of teaching reading and writing and the training of teachers in those methods, he also wrote many basic readers for children and helped found the International Reading Association.