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for good reading
FOR GRAMMAR GRADES
COMPILED AND ARRANGED
SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS, GLENS FALLS, N.Y.
DEART T HDUCATI
BUTLER, SHELDON & COMPANY
CHARLES DUDLEY WARNER once said, “To teach a child to read, and not teach it what to read, is to put a dangerous weapon into its hands."
There can be no doubt as to the truth of this statement. High schools now very generally have courses in reading and literature ; but the great majority of pupils never reach the high school, and those who do have formed a taste for reading before that period, very often a taste for reading that is decidedly bad, and only occasionally for that which is really excellent; so that in this particular the work of the high school becomes largely that of refor. mation, instead of formation, a very difficult work that need not have been necessary.
This procedure utterly ignores the needs, so far as the study of literature is concerned, of ninety per cent of the pupils, and begins the work too late with the others. To some extent desultory work is being done in many primary and grammar schools through the use of supplementary readers; but this cannot be very effective in forming a taste for good reading, because the expense necessary to provide a sufficient amount and variety of books will be so great that few schools can meet it, and still fewer will. Too often the supplementary readers used are intended merely to furnish information. As the result of this condition of affairs, with the exception of here and there a school, no effective effort is being made to create and foster a taste for good literature in grades below the high school. Much supplementary reading is being done, but there seems to be no clearly defined plan, no definite end aimed at. This is probably due to the fact that there is
no series of readers well adapted to the carrying on of this work. The compiler of this series has attempted to meet this want. The selections are carefully made and graded, and are believed to be those suited to the age and maturity of the pupils for whom they are intended. They are all good of their kind, and it is believed that the selection of trashy matter on the one hand, or matter beyond the comprehension of the pupils on the other, has been avoided.
Each volume of the series has been made with a definite purpose in view, and in each will appear a brief statement in regard to the selections made and the end aimed at. There will be such notes and explanations as seem to be necessary. This series can be used to an excellent advantage in teaching children how to read, but it should be borne in mind that the primary purpose of the series is to teach what to read, to create and foster a taste for good literature; therefore many selections for which room cannot be found will be suggested, to aid in directing the out-of-school reading of the pupils. It is hoped that teachers will encourage pupils to form little libraries of their own.
Many suggestions will be made that will aid in such work.
The selections from Alice Cary are used by arrangement with and permission of Houghton, Mifflin & Co., the authorized publishers of her poems. Thanks for the use of the following are also extended to Lee and Shepard for extracts from Webster; to Little, Brown & Company for extracts from the 1884 edition of Parkman's works; to G. P. Putnam's Sons for extracts from Irving; to Francis Miles Finch for use of poems; to Mrs. Annie Fields for poem by James T. Fields; to D. Appleton & Company for use of Bryant's poems; to Fords, Howard and Hurlbert for selections from Beecher.
TO THE READER
This volume contains selections calling for more thought than any of the previous ones. You are very strongly urged to make free use of reference books while reading it. Do not pass any words about whose meaning you are in doubt without looking them up. Find the meaning of all allusions also. This practice persistently followed will make you very accurate in the use of words and give you a great fund of information, but what is of more consequence will be forming the habit of using reference books, especially a dictionary and an encyclopædia. You are again urged to form as good a library of your own as circumstances will permit. The best books can be bought for a very small sum, in case you do not feel able to own more expensive editions. Buy only good books, those worth reading more than once. It is not only a waste of time to read inferior works, but worse than that, it tends to the lowering of your taste.
The formation of reading clubs is an excellent thing, as it leads to the discussion of the books read. You double the value of your reading if you discuss what you have read with another. You not only get the meaning better, but the discussion fixes what you have read more firmly in your mind. Again, you will unconsciously get something of the style of the author discussed, and in this way absorb from various writers habits of thought and expres