The first reading primer designed for the American colonies was The New- England Primer first issued in Boston, Massachusetts between 1687 and 1690 by English printer and publisher Benjamin Harris, who came to Boston, Massachusetts in 1687 to escape the brief Catholic ascendancy under James II. Harris based The New England Primer on a textbook which he had previously printed in England called The Protestant Tutor. His New England Primer, with its heavily religious orientation, became the most successful textbook published in 18th century America, and the foundation of most early American schooling until it was replaced by Noah Webster's textbooks toward the end of the eighteenth century.
Schoolbooks were often read to death. Remarkably the earliest surviving edition of Harris's New-England Primer was published in Boston by T. Kneeland & T. Green in 1727. This is known only from a single imperfect copy in the New York Public Library. Harris's supposed first edition of 1687-1690 is known from an advertisement for a second Harris edition of 1691 in Henry Newman's News from the Stars published in Boston, 1691, leaving the assumption that an edition had preceded it. However, no copy of either edition survived.