The horn-book was a precursor to the primer, a tool that taught children their letters, how to read, and gave a catechetical lesson. As such, fixed to the paddle was a sheet of parchment or vellum upon which was scribed the alphabet, Arabic numerals, and a prayer, usually the Lord’s Prayer or the Trinitarian Formula. Some forms include a syllabary, a table teaching syllabic letters, as well.


Facsimile hornbook (top right) and gingerbread hornbook mold (bottom middle) handcrafted by artist and scholar Gene Wilson of HOBI Cookie Molds and Hornbooks. 

“In School” and “Thirst for Knowledge” from “History of the Hornbook” by Andrew Tuer, scanned by  ttscribe4.euston.archive.org and licensed under CC 1.0