The New England Primer; A History of the Origin and Development
Ford, Paul Leicester [ed]. The New England Primer; A History of the Origin and Development. New York: Dodd, Mead & Co. 1897, p. 65.
The mainstay of Colonial primary education was the primer. It had several advantages over the hornbook, battledore and ABC because of its comprehensive text. Primers first began to appear in the colonies toward the end of the seventeenth century. Unlike the others, these were true books with as many as eighty or ninety pages. The standard form of The New England Primer was two-and-a-half by four inches, an accommodation to economy rather than the small hands of the children. Most of these primers were made with paper bindings on wooden boards, although examples exist of leather bound primers.
The child who successfully completed his primer -- a task which might take several years -- was ready to begin working in the Psalter and the Bible, having become by that time an accomplished reader.