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McGuffey Fourth Reader - Book

McGuffey Fourth Reader

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McGuffey's Fourth Reader begins with exercises in punctuation, editor's marks, articulation, accent, and inflection, followed by 80 literature-based language arts lessons. Lessons are brief and easy to use with Charlotte Mason-style copywork and recitation.

Focus: Vocabulary, Spelling, and Articulation

Grade level: 6-7 or as needed

Format: Paperback; 5" x 7.75"

Content: 80 lessons, 270 pages



McGuffey's Fourth Eclectic Reader

The fourth reader begins with exercises in marks and pauses (punctuation and editor's marks), articulation, accent, and inflection. These exercises are followed by 80 lessons—51 in prose and 29 in poetry. Complexity and vocabulary level has increased dramatically since the first reader, and you will see increasing evidence that the language usage in these McGuffey Readers is helpful to your students in all the subjects they are studying.


By the end of the fourth reader, your student will be reading words such as bayonet, lingering, matted, delicate, wandering enshrined, wafted, and yearning. They will have studied poems, dramatic dialogues, essays, stories, and passages from classic literature, including a few stories from the Bible.

The student will read about "How a Fly Walks on the Ceiling," find a botany and herbal medicine lesson wrapped in the story of a nettle, and other nature tales. There are stories about animals, including a story about elephants that uses words such as quadruped, sagacious, stratagem, and proboscis.

Download a sample lesson from middle of book (PDF).

Fourth Reader Table of Contents


New introduction with instructions for use with Charlotte Mason methods

Charlotte Mason's language arts methods of copywork, recitation, and narration can easily be used for these lessons. Instructions for each of these methods is found in the 18-page introduction that has been added to this edition. Like Miss Mason, Mr. McGuffey believed in short lessons, learned well, so the readers provide a convenient source for material to use with Miss Mason's methods.



Features of the fourth reader

In the preface to the fourth reader, the original publisher of the 1857 edition describes what has been expanded and improved since the first edition.
This volume, the fourth in the remodeled series of the Eclectic Readers, contains a large amount of primary matter, much of which is new. The increased amount of such matter, contained in this and the preceding volumes of this series, it is believed, will be found amply sufficient to supply the deficiency which exists in other Reading Books in this respect.


Articulation and Pronunciation are treated of systematically and thoroughly in the introductory pages, and exercises for practice, numerous and varied, will be found interspersed between the lessons.

Exercises in Spelling and Defining are placed at the head of the lessons, and are intended not only as valuable practice and information for the pupil, but also as specimens of the manner in which the lessons should be studied and recited. The teacher should add to the list all important words.

Lessons on Marks and Pauses, and on Inflection and Accent, are contained in this volume. It is recommended that the attention of the pupil be especially directed to these subjects, and that he be frequently examined upon them. The questions in this, as in the other volumes of the series, are intended to suggest rather than prescribe the method of examination. They can be varied at the teacher’s pleasure.

The Reading Lessons are drawn from a great variety of sources. Many are translations. They have been extensively remodeled, and some of them re-written. The names of the authors, from whom they are derived, are therefore omitted, they not being responsible for them in their present form.

The present edition is considerably enlarged, the additional selections being all new, and several of them relating to recent historical events, of enduring interest to all Americans.



Reading level

The easiest selections from this reader tested at Flesch-Kincaide grade level 4.8 with selections toward the end reaching grade level 8.9 in a readability scorer. The elephant story referenced above measured at a 10.1 grade level. Reading level rises fairly quickly, so remember to proceed at a comfortable pace. There is a lot to learn in each book!


Literacy, virtue, and values

Like the other readers in the series, McGuffey's fourth reader helps you teach language arts using stories, poems, essays, and speeches that reinforce virtues such as courage, honor, diligence, stewardship, independence, frugality, perseverance, and kindness.

Whether you use them as a primary instructional tool or simply as a supplement to your curriculum, I think you'll find the 1857 McGuffey Readers a valuable addition to your home library and classroom.


McGuffey's Fourth Eclectic Reader ISBN: 978-1-61322-018-4
Published by Everyday Education, LLC, 2013.

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The Fourth Reader is also available as an ebook.