This book is designed to furnish reading material of choice literary and dramatic quality. The selections for the most part are those that have stood the test of time and are acknowledged masterpieces. The groupings into the separate parts will aid both teachers and pupils in the classification of the material, indicating at a glance the range and variety of the literature included.Part One deals with poetry, and it is believed the poems offered in this group are unsurpassed. No effort on the teacher's part will be needed to arouse the enthusiasm of pupils who read the series of famous rides with which this group opens. The thrill of delight which children feel as they read of "A hurry of hoofs in a village street," or "Charging an army while all the world wondered," may lead to the stronger and more enduring emotions of patriotism and devotion. "John Gilpin's Ride," which has furnished amusement for generations of old and young, finds a place here. The rhythmic movement of these poems makes a natural transition to those selections especially designed as studies in rhythm. The series of nature poems and selections from Shakespeare complete a group of choice literary creations. Part Two is given to a study of the great American authors, and no apology is needed either for the choice of material or for the prominence given to this group. It is especially suited to parallel and supplement the work of this grade in American history. Part Three contains patriotic selections and some of the great orations. These are lofty and inspiring in style, within the grasp of the pupils, and are especially helpful in developing power of expression.
It is not expected that the order of selections will be followed. On the contrary, each teacher will follow the order which will best suit her own plans and purposes. While there is much material in the book that will re-enforce lessons in history, geography, and nature study, yet it is not for this that these selections should be studied, but rather for the pleasure that comes from reading beautiful thoughts beautifully expressed. The reading lesson should therefore be a study of literature, and it should lead the children to find beauty of thought and imagery, fitness in figures of speech, and delicate shades of meaning in words. Literature is an art, and the chief aim of the reading lesson is to discover and interpret its art qualities. In this way children learn how to read books and are enabled to appreciate the literary treasures of the race. The business of the reading book is to furnish the best available material for this purpose.
It is worth while to make a thorough study of a few well-chosen selections. Through the power gained in this way children are enabled to interpret and enjoy other selections without the aid of the teacher. If the class work is for the most part of the intensive kind, the pupils will read the remaining lessons alone for sheer pleasure, which is at once the secret and goal of good teaching in literature....