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Shakespeare Connected - Shakespeare Among Readers

4. The Hornbook - 17th century

Roughly the size of a smartphone, the hornbook consisted of a piece of parchment attached to a wooden paddle and covered by a sheet of transparent horn. It was used by school children in Shakespeare’s time to introduce the alphabet, practice vowel-consonant combinations, and practise reading the Lord’s Prayer. Learning how to read would come first with
writing only introduced later. The choice of the ‘reading practice text’ indicates the importance of religion in the period. Religion was an integral part of the education of the youth and played a prominent role in all aspects of Elizabethan and Jacobean society.


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