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simple. In Æsop, and Homer, and the old fairy tales, and many of the great stories of the world, like Robinson Crusoe, simplicity is one of the highest merits.
This series, by its very purpose, rejects “new” material. . There is a place for that, but not in the plan of this series. We have therefore chosen what is common, established, almost proverbial; what has become indisputably “classic”; what, in brief, every child in the land ought to know, because it is good and because other people know it. And it is well to remember that what is old to us is new to the child. The little pigs that went to market, Little Red Riding Hood, Gulliver and Sindbad are to him fresh creations of the imagination which open the door of an enchanted world.
The educational worth of such material calls for no defense. In an age when the need of socializing and unifying our people is keenly felt, the value of a common stock of knowledge, a common set of ideals, is obvious. A people is best unified by being taught in childhood the best things in its intellectual and moral heritage. Our own heritage is, like our ancestry, composite. Hebrew, Greek, Roman, English, French, and Teutonic elements are blended in our cultural past. We draw from these and retain what suits our composite racial and national spirit. An introduction to the best of this common heritage is one of our ways of making good citizens. Not what we know only, but what we have felt and enjoyed, largely determines what we are.
The FOURTH READER of this series is made up of fanciful tales of adventure, stories about real heroes, descriptions of outof-door life, stories about children and their adventures, and patriotic selections. It includes also poetry of a simple type, most of it selected for its treatment of nature.
The editors have supplied brief lists of words that may be difficult or that need to be noted carefully, and added to them occasionally a definition and usually a phonetic key to the pronunciation. Most of the teaching of the words, however, must be done, as needed, on the teacher's own initiative. A further feature of the book is the short list of simple questions to enable the child to see for himself whether he has really understood the story. Of late years there is an increasing interest in these “reading tests”; we realize that even when the child reads the words aloud correctly, it is by no means certain that he has got the meaning of the selection.
There have been added, also, certain questions leading to further simple activities, as oral or written composition and dramatization. In these and other ways the editors have sought to bring the reading close to the interests and lives of the children.