|A Day in Indiana History - August|
Zerna Sharp (August 12, 1889 – June 17, 1981)
The daughter of Daughter of Charles Sharp and Charlotte Smith, Zerna was native to Hillisburg, Indiana in Clinton County. Sharp worked as an elementary school teacher and reading consultant for publishing company Scott Foresman & Company in Laporte, Indiana.
Working with children teaching them to read led to her new concept in teaching reading. She believed that children could learn to read easier if they identified with the children in a story. She advanced her ideas to the Scott Foresman & Company. The company decided to use her concept and hired her as an editor to oversee production of the books that became the Dick and Jane books.
She did not actually write the books but used the services of illustrator Eleanor B. Campbell and several writers to produce the text. Zerna did name the characters and ensured that students only learned one new word per page with no story introducing more than five new words. The reading primers sold from 1927 to 1973. She retired from the company in 1964 and returned to Frankfort Indiana where she died on June 17, 1981.