Sometimes it isn't that Johnny can't read but rather that his elementary school primer is so stupid he doesn't want to, according to Bruno Bettelheim, the renowned child psychologist. The typical primer today, he says, consists of the adventures of Mark and Janet, successors to Dick and Jane, who do things like "jump, jump, jump" and have obvious things pointed out to them by adults. One first grader, Bettelheim said, confessed to him that he had a problem reading aloud in school because he "felt so ashamed to say such stupid things in class." "Children hate being told what to do," Bettleheim said, and yet in 177 lines of text in one modern primer the command "come here" is repeated 24 times. And 39 times, Mark and Janet are ordered to look at objects, such as trains, that they couldn't possibly avoid seeing, he added. a The appreciation of a story rather than mere "decoding" of words should be the reason for reading, but in American primers there is no story to appreciate, Bettelheim said. The primers of 40 years ago used about 450 different words, while today's use only about 200. And yet, Bettelheim said, even the most culturally deprived youngsters enter school with vocabularies of 2,000 words. It's no wonder the children are bored, he said. He said he once voiced his opinion to the vice president of a textbook publishing house, who replied: "It happens that neither experts like you nor children buy schoolbooks."