From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.44 [gcide]:
1. The first book for children, or that from which in former times they learned their letters and rudiments; -- so called because a sheet of horn covered the small, thin board of oak, or the slip of paper, on which the alphabet, digits, and often the Lord's Prayer, were written or printed; a primer. ''He teaches boys the hornbook.'' --Shak.
From Moby Thesaurus II by Grady Ward, 1.0 [moby-thes]:
35 Moby Thesaurus words for "hornbook": abecedarium, abecedary, alphabet, alphabet book, and arithmetic, basics, battledore, casebook, elementary education, elements, exercise book, first principles, first steps, gradus, grammar, induction, initiation, introduction, manual, manual of instruction, outlines, primer, principia, principles, propaedeutic, reader, reading, rudiments, schoolbook, speller, spelling book, t, text, workbook, writing
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Let's see what we can do if we put our heads together.0