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LEWIS B. MONROE,
DEAN OF BOSTON UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF ORATORY.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the
year 1871, by LEWIS B. MONROE,
in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington
a child is his School Reader. Its manifold themes tend to open various channels of thought; its style of expression impresses itself upon the pupil's mind, and has an influence to mould his forms of speech and writing; the compositions themselves are stored in his memory to recur a thousand times in after life, the more dear for being associated with the cherished scenes of childhood; and, most of all, the sentiments inculcated become inevitably a part of his inoral consciousness. His rules of life, his springs of action in times which test his integrity or try his virtue, are in very many instances traceable to the seed which took root in his heart from the lessons in his School Reader.
But these or any other desirable ends to be derived from such a book imply, of course, that its selections shall be of the right stamp. Not alone musi they inculcate wholesome truths, but they must do this in a genial, attractive way. We must interest the pupil in order to benefit him. A pitiful martyrdom is endured by teachers and scholars where weary hours are spent in endeavoring to make children comprehend abstractions fit only for the mind of a Bacon, or to urge them through intricacies of style which might bewilder a Johnson. If“ wisdom's ways are ways of pleasantness," as we surely believe, that cannot be the wisest course which proves irksome and repulsive.
With these convictions, the endeavor has been made to compile a book which should, first of all, be pure and ennobling in its moral influence; and next, one which should be both profitable and enjoyable.
An elaborate theoretical treatise, with set rules for reading, might have been included in the Introduction, but long experience and observation have convinced the compiler that such things are of little practical value in the school-room, and are generally unused by the most successful teachers. No number of abstract definitions, no amount of mere theory, ever changed a poor reader to a good on
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Plain common sense is, after all, the best guide. Whatever aids the pupil to understand a piece will help him to read it. Thought and emotion compel expression; rules too often fetter it. Three things can be done by the teacher with advantage : give the pupils practical exercises to increase their command of voice; talk with them in a way to inspire them with the spirit of what they read; give them a good example. The selections in the Introduction, as well as in the body of the book, are intended to be available for these purposes.
Several of the pieces for reading have been written expressly for this book, and are protected by copyright. Thanks are due the various authors and publishers by whose kind permission extracts from their books have been used. We are especially indebted to Messrs. James R. Osgood & Co. for liberty to use selections from their copyright editions of the works of Whittier, Longfellow, Hawthorne, Trowbridge, Aldrich, and Saxe.
L. B. M. Boston, June 1, 1871.
NOTE TO TEACHERS.
In making use of the “Exercises” in connection with the reading lessons, it is not expected that the pupils will always be able to supply exact synonyins. The purpose is rather to lead the pupil to think about what he reads, and to exercise his ingenuity in framing different forms of expression for the idea which exists in his own mind.
These exercises may be indefinitely extended at the discretion of the teacher. Thus: the teacher reads a sentence and repeats the word whose sense he wishes the pupil to give. Teacher. “ Hew down the bridge,' — Hew." Pupil. “Cut down the bridge.” Another. “Chop down the bridge,” etc. The pupil is required in every instance to use his equivalent words in a complete sentence, — not simply to repeat a formal definition.