Beginner's Russian reader
I liked this reader. Short relatively easy texts. Free to download:
Oh. It is interesting to have a look at what people used in the past. I am afraid our learners will find it a tad bit hard at first :).
Beginner's Russian reader wasn't too hard. This far I found all words I need in my dictionary and it's been good excise to me. I understand the book is old, but most of the well-know Russian literature is older so it's OK. I'll need something newer for conversation, but I haven't found on yet.
It is just that some texts in the Elementary Reader look more complicated than in your Beginner's Russian Reader. The language is not all that different but some vocabulary items are a little outdated, so a modern learner will have to consult a dictionary where they would not expect.
There is some Christian vocabulary there that I am not sure I fully understand (e.g., I know that святки must be some holiday but do not know when).
OK, I haven't checked the Elementary Reader yet. It's hard to find good reading for beginners on the Internet. I found some with funny letters. Pre-reform?
Yes, most likely. Ѣ basically reads like a Е (it was a different vowel a long time ago) and i is И. Ubiquitous hard signs at the end of the words can be happily ignored.
You'll also see odd adjectival endings like in "Учебникъ русскаго языка". These Genitive endings were all changed to ого/его.
As for the language... First, we do not switch the verb's direct object to the Genitive so consistently anymore. "I did not find mother" is more likely to be Я не нашёл мать than Я не нашёл матери.
Second, I noted that even in the Elementary Reader sentences like "He was a writer" or "She was an English journalist" use the Nominative complement (e.g., "Он был писатель"). Not that popular anymore, though still possible. Instrumental is somewhat more neutral regardless of whether it was a state, a role or an identity.
Yes, it was Ѣ and it was even accented. Interesting explanation you give. Seems like pre-reform texts wouldn't be impossible after all, but I'll wait with them for now. :)
It looks interesting. It helps me to open each page in a new tab for easier reading.
If you prefer there are other books and magazines to choose between as well: https://archive.org/details/russianbooks?&sort=titleSorter&page=2