Introduction to “The Big House on Market Street” Graded Readers


These consist of a series of five books developed by the Santa Clara Unified School District for use in its History-Social Science curriculum.  Each of the books has been written for a different grade level, covering grades one through five.


The stories themselves revolve around a family who came to Santa Clara in the late 1800’s and stayed to become a part of the city’s colorful history.  The name of the family was Lass, and the house they lived in is now called the Harris-Lass House.


Though the stories are fiction, the characters are real and the facts are historically accurate, the result of careful research by the authors, and careful checking by surviving members of the Lass family.


These books are the ultimate consequence of a series of events which resulted in the purchase of the historic old Lass house by the city of Santa Clara.  It has since been renovated and established as the Harris-Lass Museum.


Recognizing that the house could be a valuable resource for teaching local history, an arrangement was made between the City of Santa Clara and the Historic Preservation Society of  Santa Clara, who manages the property, that Santa Clara Unified School District would be asked to develop an educational curriculum which would support interest in the Harris-Lass House.


It was at this point that Norm Carter, then Supervisor of Special Projects for the School District, had the idea of preparing a book of stories about the house and the people that lived there, written by local authors.  In subsequent meetings with colleagues and other interested parties, the plan evolved to include, not just one but a series of books, one for each of the first five grades.  Several teachers contributed stories, as did senior members of one of the District’s adult education memoir writing classes.


Through these stories, which give a peek into life on a farm in the early 1900’s, students can become aware of the rich history which exists in their own community.