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Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1845,
The rapid growth of the United States, and the variety of interest which the improvements of our country are daily exciting, both as it regards the progress of our nation in literature as well as in art, seem to demand an especial effort in suitably impressing upon the public mind, the importance of augmenting every facility for cultivating a proper taste in the minds of the rising generation, for such advancement in useful knowledge, as may prove beneficial in afterlife. And as under our free and liberal government, the poorest as well as the richest may reasonably anticipate distinction, every means should be employed by those who have the guardianship of our literary institutions, to open as wide as possible the door that leads to knowledge.
It is to be regretted that our common schools have, in many instances, been neglected, so far as they are regarded as important auxiliaries in imparting useful information. Many entertain the idea that it is quite immaterial what books are put into the hands of young children, when they first commence reading, if the words can be but easily understood and readily pronounced. Now, in practising upon this principle, the most silly stories are often got up, sometimes accompanied by a picture, and spread before the young pupil to learn him to read. He looks upon the picture and is pleased with it, and he becomes remarkably fond of lessons thus illustrated— so much so, that he forms an attachment for light reading, and can hardly be induced to abandon his picture-book for one that treats upon plain matters of fact, useful in boyhood and in old age.
To a vast number of children, our Common Schools afford the only opportunity they enjoy of improving their minds, or of becoming enlightened in regard to the general principles of the American Government, and in support of which, as citizens, they are to take an active part. In view of these considerations, then, how import