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CALIFORNIA STATE SERIES
ARNOLD AND GILBERT
THE STATE TEXT-BOOK COMMITTEE
AND APPROVED BY
THE STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
W. W. ShannON, SUPERINTENDENT State Printing
In the compilation of this book certain matter from “Step-
FLY THIS *HIS series of books is designed to meet in particular two educa tional needs: first
, reading books containing better literature than the average Reader contains; second, books adapted to the modern graded school. The ordinary series of Readers consists of five or six books, – the first three being composed of made matter, put together upon the theory that children can read only selections containing certain words. The remaining two or three books are composed partly of original matter and partly of short, disconnected selections from standard authors, many
of these selections not being suited to children of any age, and none of them being graded with reference to adaptation of language or thought.
In the present series, its authors have aimed to include nothing but good literature, the greater part being selected from standard writers; and in so far as possible the selections are given entire as they came from the writers' hands. In each book, beginning with the Fourth, are to be found some selections of considerable length, both in prose and poetry, complete as they were first published.
In those instances in which it has been found necessary to abbreviate articles, the authors have attempted to give complete chapters or such other selections as constitute in themselves literary wholes, and also to induce the pupils to read the entire books from which the selections are taken. This suggestion is deemed very important. The tendency of the day is to scrappy reading. It is fostered by newspapers, periodicals, and compendia of literature; and it is hoped that these Readers will help to combat this unfortunate tendency, and lead to the reading of good books.
The second special feature of STEPPING Stones to LITERATURE is their perfect adaptation to graded schools. The usual division of the higher Readers of a series into Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth, is founded upon no principle thus far discovered. This series consists of eight books, one for each grade of the ordinary graded school system. It is believed that this feature will be of great value. It simplifies the work of the teacher, and makes it possible to correlate the reading with the other subjects in the school curriculum.
In the Fourth Book the child is given his first distinct introduction to mythology. In the earlier books, fables and fairy stories have been used, and there has been a little suggestion of mythology; but in the Fourth, myth and wonder — those subjects which appeal to the child's imagination and carry him out of his limited environment into a larger world -- are emphasized. We believe that this is in accord with whatever truth exists in the culture epoch theory of education.
It also makes a suitable and natural introduction to the historical matter, of which a greater proportion appears in the higher books. The connection between this matter and that in the lower books is furnished by two fables, “ The Fox and the Cat” and “ The Fox and the Horse,” and by such humorous poems as “ That Calf” and “ The Cow and the Ass.” These lead, on the one side, to the Nature readings both in verse and prose; on the other side, they lead directly to the myth, and the myth introduces the child easily and naturally to history,the Hiawatha myth, for example, making an excellent introduction to American history, and the Greek myth, to ancient history. The selection from “ Aladdin” belongs to that class of purely imaginative literature which all children read and enjoy.
In the Fifth Book the use of the myth which is found in the Fourth is continued, but the myths here used are mainly historical, leading directly to the study of history. Here is given an acquaintance with the mythology of our Norse forefathers, and also with the semi-mythological literature of western Europe. This is followed by some selections of a more definitely historical character than any given in the Fourth. The purely imaginative literature — as, for example, “The King of the Golden River” – is of an order better adapted to the advancing age of the child, and has a more distinctly æsthetic and ethical purpose. Nature readings are continued, and several selections of a patriotic character are given as an introduction to the considerable amount of reading of this class found in the Sixth and Seventh books.
In the Sixth Book the pure myth does not appear, but in its place is much of history, especially of the legendary lore which appeals to the developing imagination of the child, - such as the tales of ancient Rome and Scott's poems.
There is a large increase of matter which tends to stimulate patriotism, including particularly national songs. Here appear several selections from that sort of literature which requires thought and develops taste, such as “ The Voyage to Lilliput.” Here also are found some appeals to the child's natural love of adventure and sports. The ethical motive is plainly evident throughout this book.
The Seventh Book is made entirely of selections from American authors. It is intended for the grade in which most stress is usually laid upon the study of the history of the United States, and can very appropriately be used in connection with this study. The literature of a country cannot be separated from its history, and the natural connection between these two should be emphasized in all study of either. This book is especially rich in matter intimately connected with history, and tending to stimulate patriotism.
Here, more than in some of the other books, selections have been made from longer works, and it is hoped that the teachers will urge the children to read the works entire.
The Eighth Book is made wholly from the writings of English authors. In many schools the study of English history is introduced in this grade. In such schools the selections here given will be found appropriate. Even in those schools in which the history of England is not specifically studied, it is of necessity studied incidentally in connection with the history of our own country, and a familiarity with the writings of the best English authors is essential to a comprehension of the writings of our own. The selections here given, while especially appropriate for use in connection with the study of history, are made from standard authors, such as every intelligent boy and girl should read for their own value.
The authors believe that if these Readers are used wisely, according to the plan suggested, they will not only help to make better readers of the children of the schools, but will also aid in a wise correlation of studies, will cultivate taste, stimulate a love of good literature, and, through literature, bring within reach of the children the choicest treasures of the world.
The copyrighted material in this book is used by permission of and by arrangement with Houghton, Mifflin & Co., Roberts Brothers, D. Appleton & Co., Little, Brown & Co., Charles Scribner's Sons, and The Macmillan Company, to all of whom both the editor and the publishers express their cordial thanks and appreciation.