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1. THE distinctive feature of the Language Reader Series is that it includes in one book for each of the first six grades a considerable part of the work in English needed for the grade, except the supplementary reading. This plan may be defended by the arguments: (a) economy of time and money, and (b) efficiency in instruction. At the present time, when the curriculum has become unduly crowded, it is imperatively necessary that certain lines of the work should be unified. The close relation of reading, composition, spelling, etc., attained by viewing them definitely as only certain elements of the work in English, tends to reduce the confusion in the mind of the pupil.
Teachers agree as to the value of good literature as the basis of the English work. But the classics are often either not related at all to the work in expression, or the relationship is indicated in a vague and desultory fashion. The Language Readers make the relationship close and vital, without killing the pupil's enjoyment of literature or rendering the work in expression pedantic.
It is agreed, further, that the facts of language — both the definite things, such as spelling and sentence structure, and the indefinite things, such as the connotation of terms and discrimination between synonyms are not to be learned and fixed by one act of attention, but that we learn and relearn some of them by continued observation, and come to the knowledge of others by approximating steps. It follows that a plan of teaching English which gives the pupil the habit of observing the facts of language as he reads must be the best
guarantee of his permanent hold upon it and his continued growth in it. This idea is indeed not new. Books upon composition draw largely upon literature for their exercises, and reading books introduce - though timidly and incompletelylessons in the study of language. The present series is an attempt to work out fully the idea toward which books of both classes have been tending in the past ten years.
2. Each Reader has some dominating interest in its subject matter. In the first two books, where the main problem is to teach the beginnings of reading, much must be sacrificed to interest and simplicity, and these books deal with simple story and poetry, mostly of folk tale and child life. In the third book, the dominant element is the fairy and folk tale; in the fourth, the animal story and the tale of adventure; in the fifth, the great myths of the world; and in the sixth, a selection of stories, poems, and essays, serving as an introduction to general literature.
Great care has been taken that the books shall be good readers, independent of the language work introduced. The standards of good literature and the interests of the normal child have been kept in mind. The language work has been so handled as not to make it obtrusive in appearance or impertinent in comment; and the division of these two phases of the work makes it possible to treat them separately, where separate treatment is necessary for the preservation of the purely literary interest.
3. In grading the reading and language work, the editors have had the assistance of able and experienced teachers from both public and private schools. The language work increases in importance in the higher grades. As repetition is an important element in instruction, the editors have not hesitated to bring in certain facts more than once; and for the same reason reviews and summaries are inserted.
NEW YORK CITY,
As has been said above, the dominant element in this volume is the myth, the legend, the heroic tale, in prose and in verse. Experience has shown that such material appeals most strongly to pupils of the Fifth Grade, and it is noteworthy that accounts of heroism— mental, moral, or physical are apt to inspire children at this impressionable age with ideals that may go far to shape their lives. In the selection of this material we have searched with care the literature of antiquity and of the Middle Ages, and we believe that the stories which we have chosen are those best adapted to the purpose all teachers have in mind in such work; namely, acquainting the children with the most noble and typical ideals of heroic conduct in ancient and modern civilization. A considerable number of extracts of a different character have, however, been included, in order to introduce other interesting material and to avoid monotony.
As the object of language study is to aid the child toward a better comprehension of the thoughts of others and to a clear expression of his own thoughts, the language lessons which we have introduced are frequently simply interpretative of the author's thought. In other cases they give the pupil the chance to express the same or similar ideas in his own words. While, however, the character of the language work is frequently suggested by a given selection, the work covers all the topics usually allotted to Fifth Grade work, including necessary reviews, and without sacrifice of logical sequence.