Children's first school books are a distinctive form of adult-produced discourse, ostensibly about children and their everyday world. An analysis of the texts of a large corpus of these books shows how particular images of the child, as character in the books and as reader of the books, are constructed. The methods include vocabulary counts, a study of membership categorisation practices in the texts and a description of the relation between narrator and characters' voices in the texts. The age and gender category memberships of characters in the books are fundamental to the descriptions of social relationships, and to the models of language, rationality and social order, which the books convey. The texts are further viewed as implicit introductions to school-endorsed versions of how children think, act and talk, and hence to the official culture of schooling. �� 1987, Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. All rights reserved.