It is quite something to consider that when Ackworth School was established in 1779 there were no standard school syllabi, trained teachers or even training colleges. Even more to the point, there were no standard books for teaching children and the records at Ackworth school mention this dearth of books for children. It wasn't until the beginning of the 19th century that books created specifically for children's readers became properly available
The Rational Dame was one of the first of its type and was quickly adopted by Ackworth School.
This book is nearly 200 years old and dates from 1824 - its purpose was to supply prattle to children
and its 13 page preface is a wonderful primer of Enlightenment educational thought : Children listen with avidity to tales : let us give them none but rational information - relate to them the metamorphoses of insects - amuse them with real wonders - entertain them with agreeable surprises - but no deceit; tell them plain, simple truth - there is no need of invention; the world is full of wonders.
And so this book
is filled with delightful engravings, some hand water-coloured, of animals and insects - including the famous Ackworth Squirrel seen below.
The Rational Dame tells us: The SQIRREL (sic) has its name from the form of its tail, as serving the animal for an umbrella. This animal is neat, lively, active and provident. What more fitting role model for young students than our Squirrel!
This little hard-backed book of 96 pages has seen some life in its near 200 years. The cover as you can see is scuffed, but inside, apart from some occasional foxing, the pages are clean and neat and the binding is very sound.