606c Sports
(easy reading)

The Story Of Cricket 1964
The Story Of Football 1964

In 1956 Ladybird published the first of their Learning To Read series. Popular with schools, it was followed in 1960 by a more ambitious scheme of Easy Reading Books which spanned seven different series in all. The amount of text (and the text size) varied according to the age group the books were aimed at, and the Sports series were pitched at older children.

Series 606C was designed to cover the more popular national sports, but after issuing "Cricket" and "Football", no more titles were ever published. Written by a woman, Vera Southgate, and illustrated by Jack Matthew, both lasted at least until the early seventies, so can be found with either dust-jackets or coloured hard back covers. Inside the covers, both titles carried lists of Championship winners, which were updated from time to time during the life of the books. Early editions covered 1950 - 64 on the inside front cover, whilst later versions showed 52-73 on the inside back cover. (Does anyone have any other versions?).

The cover typeface was also changed from the earlier hand-drawn serif style (shown left on the cricket cover) to a more modern Helvetica later on, shown on the football cover, below, also featuring the later logo on an ugly black background. Inside, the rather dated drawing below left was exchanged with a more contemporary one, above right.

The approach in both books is similar. The history of the sport is explained over several pages up to the (then) present day. After that the rules of the game are covered, along with related topics (such as a page about filling in the pools coupons in the football title). Interestingly the "Cricket" title also carries a page about women's cricket, which I doubt a male author would have thought of including. The historical aspects are well covered and although the titles are Easy Reading, they pack an awful lot of interesting facts which many older readers probably didn't know. It's a shame this series wasn't developed further.

Three decades on, some aspects of the text seem almost quaint. "All men playing cricket matches wear white clothes. On a fine summer day many people spend hours watching cricket matches. The women and girls wear pretty summer dresses, and the men and boys take off their jackets. The spectators often eat ice-cream or drink orangeade as they watch". Today's neon clad players and many of their "supporters" could perhaps do with reading a copy. The Football book is also useful for younger readers in that it explains the names of positions such as "right-half-back" and "outside right".

Since there are many sports fans who collect memorabilia, these titles, especially in dust jackets, are now among the less easy ones to find.