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seize on every opportunity to read them. If the librarians, with their wing of the educa. tional army, can select and catalog and provide free of cost the best on every subject, the schoolmen, with their wing and with their immensely larger resources both of money and men — and still better, of devoted women -must send out from the schools, year by year, boys and girls who will be lifelong patrons of the public library, andewill
, in due time, help to send their own children along the paths which have proved for them so profitable and pleasant.
but its great work should be the partial recognition that education is no longer for youth and for a limited course, in a school to which they give most of their time, but that it is really a matter for adults as well as youth, for life, and not for the course, to be carried on at home as well as in the schools, and to be taken up in the hours or minutes of leisure, as the proper accompaniment of their regular business or labor. This means that education must be carried on by means of reading, and that, if the librarians are to furnish the books and give all necessary help in their proper field, the schools must furnish the readers.
At the Milwaukee meeting, 1897, two committees were appointed-one, with F. A. Hutchins, of Wisconsin, as chairman, to prepare and recommend lists of books and editions suited for the reading and reference use of pupils in the several grades of the public schools; and the other, with J. C. Dana as chairman, to report on the relations of public libraries to public schools, indicating methods of co-operation by which the usefulness of both may be increased. At the Washington meeting, 1898, these two committees reported. (See Proceedings of the National Educational Association, 1898, pp. 1014-28.)
On the recommendation of the Committee on Reading Lists and Editions, the department decided to create a committee of five members instead of two, as before, the new committee, called the Committee on Relation of Public Libraries to Public Schools, to be charged with the duties of the two former committees. An appropriation of $500 having been made by the Board of Directors for carrying on the work, the members of this committee were appointed by the National Council of Education.
It seems to be true that the greatest amount of reading is done by children between the ages of twelve and fourteen, and that by the end of the high-school course pupils settle down to one class of reading matter, whatever that may be. (Proceedings of the National Educational Association, 1897, p. 1019.) The importance of deciding what books are suited to children at this period, and of placing such books within their reach, will be readily conceded. Children will read what they like. If we can find out what they like and then provide it for them from literature true to life, now accessible, we may be reasonably certain that the class of reading settled down to later will never drop below the level of the taste thus formed.
But to begin our selection for the child at the age of twelve is too late for best results. We must begin as soon as he learns to read, or even before, if possible, by reading to him and by story-telling. Not the least of the difficulties is the selection of a few appropriate books from the vast number available. In this matter the report will be found to be of great service. It covers the entire field of home and school reading. In the city the problem is comparatively easy, provided teachers are alive to their opportunities. Here much has been done. In the country and in the small village the problem is more difficult. This report gives valuable experience to aid the teacher in this great work, wherever his lot may be.
1. PUBLIC LIBRARIES AND PUBLIC SCHOOLS
The education gained at school must, with the great majority of people, be meager at the best. This may be, and should be, supplemented by extensive reading after the school life is finished. If this work is to be done well, and under favorable conditions, the pupil must, while in school, not only be trained to like good literature, but also, if possible, to use a public library intelligently. This demands cordial relations and intelligent co-operation between school and library authorities, between teachers and librarians.
The library must be regarded as an important and necessary part of the system of public education. It is said that not more than one in five hundred of the inhabitants of Massachusetts are without library facilities. This should be the condition everywhere, and may be at no very distant time if those who should be most interested the teachers of the country -- will make a unanimous, persistent, and continued effort in this direction. There is nothing that appeals to people more generally, or to which they will respond more readily and liberally, than an effort to establish free public libraries, if the work is carried on with good judgment.
The teachers of a town should know the public library, what it contains, and what use the pupils can make of it. The librarian must know the school, its work, its needs, and what he can do to meet them. He must be able to supplement and broaden the work of the teacher of geography, science, history, or literature. He should meet the teachers from time to time and become generally familiar with their work, and they should meet with him and become familiar with the library, what it contains, and its methods.
The librarian should make frequent bulletins for school use. He should make lists for collateral reading in history, not merely works on history, but biography, historical fiction, and poems treating of historical events.
The librarian should meet with the pupils occasionally and talk to them upon such matters pertaining to their reading as seems wise. They should have free access to the library shelves. The librarian should issue such special bulletins as may be wise— bulletins giving the books treating of local matters, if there be such; matters of present interest ; for example, last winter a special bulletin giving a list of books treating of Hawaii, Cuba, the Philippines, and the far East would have been of much value.
Children must be directed and trained in regard to their reading. They can no more be trusted to get their own knowledge of and taste for literature, unaided, than they can get their scientific and mathematical training in the same way.
If it is the duty of the state to see that its citizens know how to read, it is certainly no less its duty to see that they are trained to do the right kind of reading; otherwise the ability to read may be harmful rather than beneficial, both to the individual and to the state.
Not every place can maintain a public library. Some people must be deprived of the library facilities that many places have. But every state can, without great expense, maintain a system of traveling libraries that may reach every community in which there is anyone sufficiently interested to give proper attention to the matter. Some states, notably New York and Wisconsin, have undertaken the work, and anyone interested, by writing to Secretary Melvil Dewey, Albany, N. Y., or Mr. Frank Hutchins, Madison, Wis., can learn in regard to the details of the work in those states.
Librarians usually know books much better than teachers do, but children not nearly so well; therefore active co-operation is necessary to the accomplishment of the best results.
Pupils should, while in school, be trained to know and love good literature, to use reference-books, to economize time in reading, thru the use of tables of contents, page-headings, etc.
Training pupils to read and love good literature is by far the most important work done in school. There is nothing else that a teacher can do at all comparable to it in value. It is the one thing the school does that continues to contribute to one's education so long as he lives. We should never forget that it is not the ability to read, but the use made of that ability, that contributes to the destiny of a child.
Someone has said that education consists in formation of habits and the acquisition of tastes. This is certainly the case so far as reading is concerned, and all that the school and library can do, working together in harmony, is necessary to the best success in this matter of forming correct reading habits and good taste in literature.
II. READING LISTS
In the preparation of the following lists certain things were kept in mind that should be considered by those who are interested in the work.
It was not thought wise to include any series of school readers. Each community will settle that matter for itself, and any attempt at discrimipation, on part of this committee, would not be productive of good results.
The lists are merely suggestive. It is not expected that anyone will be likely to use them without change. They furnish a plan, a basis for work, and are to be modified to meet local conditions.
There are many books which, while possessing general interest, have a special interest in certain localities. Frederic's In the Valley would have a special interest in the state of New York. Parker's Seats of the Mighty, Kirby's Golden Dog, Parkman's Montcalm and Wolfe and Conspiracy of Pontiac, Hawthorne's Twice Told Tales, Earle's Social Life in Old New England, Underwood's Quabbin, Bynner's The Begum's Daughter, and the novels of Miss Austin would be of greater interest in New York and New England than in other parts of the country. Page's In Ole Virginia, Cooke's My Lady Pokahontas, Goodwin's Head of a Hundred and White Aprons are of special interest in Virginia. Lummis' Spanish Pioneers will be of greater interest in parts of the Southwest than elsewhere. Miss Catherwood's historical novels will be of greater interest in states bordering on Canada. The story of Joliet, La Salle, Marquette, Hennepin, and others will be of greater interest in the upper Mississippi valley. The writings of Boyesen will greatly interest those portions of our country settled by Scandinavians. So the teachers of each section of country must select, in part, those books of local interest. It is not possible that any general list will meet local conditions.
The lists are not intended to be closely graded. The pupils in the same grade differ so greatly in literary ability, taste, and development that the books selected for any grade should have a corresponding difference.
The lists will certainly be criticised, both for what they contain and for what they omit. No list could be made that would not be open to both these criticisms. The critics must modify the lists to meet their tastes and needs. One must always consider both himself and his environment in the work of teaching.
The list for pupils in Grades i to 12 provides for reading by the class, reading to the class by the teacher, and memorizing of certain selections in the first eight grades. While no list for home reading has been made, it is believed that the teacher should, so far as possible, direct a portion of the out-of-school reading of the pupils. There are more books named in each grade than can possibly be read in school, and it will be well to see that some of them are read at home. Provision for having certain selections memorized is made, because it is believed that good reading will not be general in schools in which declamation is not practiced.
The teacher should have at least three things in mind in reading to the class. With the youngest pupils the chief purpose should be to arouse an interest in good reading; with those who are old enough to read for themselves it is well to read a portion of books that the children should read, and then let them get the books and finish them for themselves if they care to do so; with the oldest pupils it is well to read some books that the pupils would hardly comprehend if they read them for themselves, yet not so far beyond their comprehension but that, when read by the teacher, and commented upon occasionally, the meaning would be clear, and the thought of interest.
It is not expected that the class will read all the books mentioned in any grade, or that the teacher will read to the class all named for that purpose, but that selections will be made; nor that all books will be read in full.
In the additional lists for grammar grades it is understood that the books named are merely additional books for Grades 5, 6, 7, and 8, for the berfefit of those schools that can have access to larger libraries. These additional books are intended chiefly for home reading, and are not classified as books to be read in class or by the teacher, tho some of them may well be used for these purposes.
It is understood that in very many places there will be great difficulty in getting the books needed, and that it will be impossible at present in many schools ; but if sufficient interest be aroused in the matter, that difficulty will be met and settled. The first thing is to lead teachers everywhere to feel the importance of this work.
It is thought best to make the list of reference-books comparatively short, and to place first those of most importance, and which most schools in cities and towns will be able to get. In the main, the less expensive books are named first, so that those first on the list will be available to the larger number of schools. There is no limit to reference-books that may be used to advantage, save the limit of means to purchase them.
Whenever the cost of a book is given, it is the list price, from which a considerable discount may be had.
It is an excellent plan to keep a record of the reading of the children. This can be best done by having a little book made for each pupil. A