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This book is designed to furnish a rich and varied supply of reading matter suited to the interests and needs of children in the early part of the grammar school work. The selections have been made with great care from among the masterpieces of British and American literature. Many familiar old pieces that have stood the test of time are included in the list. They are the songs that will always be sung and the stories that will always be told. The grouping into separate parts will aid both teachers and pupils in classifying the material, indicating at a glance the range and variety of literature offered.
Part One includes both poetry and prose. The stirring notes of patriotism with which the book opens find fitting supplement in the charming stories which follow, “The Leak in the Dike” and “The Golden Touch” being typical of the entire group. The series of nature poems, the group of fables in poetry and prose, poems relating to duty and courage, and the group of lullaby poems, complete a collection of literary creations notable for their charm of expression and conspicuous for their beauty of thought and imagery.
Part Two deals with adventure. It contains some of the Arabian Nights tales,* the story of Robin Hood, Gulliver's Travels, and Robinson Crusoe. These fine old stories of adventure, handed down from earlier days, have delighted old and young for many generations. We read them today for the same reason they were told in the days of old, for amusement and entertainment.
The stories contained in Part Two have been rewritten, or carefully edited. In other selections in this book,-for example, “The Golden Touch," "Capturing the Wild Horse," "A Paradise of Children," etc., simpler words have been substituted in a few instances for those unfamiliar to children at this age.
* As here given these tales are adapted from The Young People's Library of the Henry Altemus Company.
Part Three presents a few of the great American authors, and no apology is needed for the names included in the list offered. They represent the makers of our American literature and the selections chosen are those best suited to children of this age. From Franklin to Whittier, the spirit and thoughts of our developing nation are set forth in a literature distinctively American, and some of the choicest treasures of that creative period are here brought together. Through these, the children may become familiar with the life of the past and may be made conscious of some of its lessons for the present and the future. They may thus come to know and love American authors and their works.
The biographical and historical notes are intended to make the stories and their authors more interesting and real to the children and to furnish helpful data for interpreting them. “Helps to Study” include questions and notes designed to stimulate inquiry on the part of pupils and to suggest fruitful lines for discussion. Only a few points are suggested, to indicate the way, and no attempt is made to cover the ground in all directions; that remains for the teacher to do. The questions found in the book are for the pupils to use in the preparation of their lessons. To make these of value the teacher must not fail to draw upon them in every lesson.
While placing emphasis primarily on interpreting the selection for the reader himself, the formalities necessary to give the full force of the selection to the hearer must not be overlooked. The technique of reading, though always subordinate and secondary to the mastery of the thought, nevertheless claims constant and careful attention. Good reading requires clear enunciation and correct pronunciation, and these can be secured only when the teacher steadily insists upon them. The increase in our schools of children in whose homes a foreign language is spoken, and the influence this has upon clearness and accuracy of speech, furnish added reason for attention to these details.
At the close of each lesson lists of words for pronunciation