One of the fundamental characteristics of the Protestant and the subsequent Catholic Reformations was the assertion that no one could claim to be a Christian unless they could account for their belief. Thus, Luther viewed the catechism as 'something each Christian must absolutely know, so that anyone not knowing it will not be considered a Christian and will not be admitted to any of the sacraments'.1 Indeed, a strong link was established between religion and teaching among Protestants and Catholics alike. This link persisted throughout the early modern period, with the catechism, a unique expression in question-and-answer form of the dogmatic truths essential to belief (the Ten Commandments, the creeds, the principal prayers) viewed as an essential work, laid out for easy memorization by children. Luther had even maintained that it should be displayed on tablets (Tafeln), hung both in church, and in the school and home. Based on quotations from the gospel and the Pauline apostles, the Haustafel defined the Christian's social obligations not only towards church authorities, but towards the prince, towards the father or master of the household, and towards the husband on the part of the wife. Over time, the compulsory nature of such religious education led to the development of writing and, more importantly, of reading skills - even if the nature of this apprenticeship varied by region and by country. In certain cases, the learning of Christian truths remained strictly church-centred and oral, memorized solely during Sunday catechism without the intermediary of books or school. This was the case, for example, in regions of Catholic France where French was not understood. Here, children learned the catechism in the local language or dialect, whether in a printed translation or as translated orally by a cleric or vicar from an official text approved by the Bishop. Many Occitan translations were made between 1640 and 1660 and catechisms existed in Basque, Breton, and Flemish. As the Bishop of Dax observed in 1752, 'the
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When parents help their children learn to read, they help open the door to a new world. As a parent, you can begin an endless learning chain: You read to your children, they develop a love of stories and poems, they want to read on their own, they practice reading, and finally they read for their own information or pleasure. They become readers, and their world is forever expanded and enriched.