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(REVISION OF ELSON GRAMMAR SCHOOL READER, BOOK FOUR)
WILLIAM H. ELSON
AUTHOR OF GOOD ENGLISH SERIES
CHRISTINE M. KECK
SCOTT, FORESMAN AND COMPANY
For permission to use copyrighted material grateful
ROBERT O. LAW COMPANY
This book is based on the belief that an efficient reader for the eighth grade must score high when tested on five fundamental features: quality of literature; variety of literature; organization of literature; quantity of literature; and definite helps sufficient to make the text a genuine tool for classroom use.
First among these features is the essential that the foundation of the book must be the acknowledged masterpieces of
American and British authors. American boys and Quality of
girls may be depended on to read current magazines Literature
and newspapers, but if they are ever to have their taste and judgment of literary values enriched by familiarity with the classics of our literature, the schools must provide the opportunity. This ideal does not mean the exclusion of well established present-day writers, but it does mean that the core of the school reader should be the rich literary heritage that has won recognition for its enduring value. Moreover, these masterpieces must come to the pupil in complete units, not in mere excerpts or garbled “cross-sections"; for the pupil in his school life should gain some literary possessions.
A study of the contents of The Elson Readers, Book Eight, will show how consistently its authors have based the book on this sound test of quality. The works of the acknowledged "makers" of our literature have been abundantly drawn upon to furnish a foundation of great stories and poems, gripping in interest and well within the powers of pupil-appreciation in this grade.
Variety is fundamental to a well-rounded course of reading. If the school reader is to provide for all the purposes that a
collection of literature for this grade should serve, it Variety of must contain material covering at least the followLiterature
ing types: (1) literature representing both British and American authors; (2) some of the best contemporary poetry and prose, as well as the great literature of the past;
(3) patriotic literature, rich in ideals of home and country, loyalty and service, industry and thrift, coöperation and citizenship -ideals of which, during the World War, American children gained a new conception, that the school reader should perpetuate; (4) literature suited to festival and patriotic occasions, particularly those celebrated in the schools; (5) literature of the seasons, Nature, and out-of-door life; (6) literature of humor that will enliven the reading and cultivate the power to discriminate between wholesome humor—an essential part of lifeand crude humor, so prevalent in the pupil's outside reading; (7) adventure stories both imaginative and real; (8) literature that portrays the romance of industry; (9) literature suited to dramatization, providing real project material.
This book offers a well-rounded course of reading covering all the types mentioned above. Especially by means of groups of stories and poems that portray love of our free country and its flag, and unselfish service to others, this book makes a stirring appeal to the true spirit of good citizenship. Moreover, wholesome ethical ideals pervade the literature throughout.
The literature of a school reader, if it is to do effective work, must be purposefully organized. Sound organization groups into
related units the various selections that cenOrganization of
ter about a common theme. This arrangement Literature
enables the pupil to see the dominant ideas of the book as a whole, instead of viewing the text as a confused scrapbook of miscellaneous selections. Such arrangement also fosters literary comparison by bringing together selections having a common theme or authorship.
This book has been so organized as to fulfill these purposes. There are four main Parts, each distinguished by unity of theme. Part I aims to develop a wholesome appreciation of Nature; Part II deals with the magic world of adventure; Part III makes clear the basic principles of our “Great American Experiment” in self-government and points out the way to the right kind of citizenship; and Part IV presents certain phases of life in our homeland that will make America more significant to boys and girls. Through these grouped selections, fundamental ideals in the development of personal character and good citizenship are established.
Five unique features keep the plan of the book and the dominant theme of each Part clearly in the foreground: (1) A pupils' Introduction called “Literature and Life,” that emphasizes the joy and value of reading and makes clear the plan of the book, showing the pupil what to look for in each main Part; (2) Visual "guideposts"-large-type headings, half-title pages, and pictures typifying the theme of each unit; (3) A special Introduction to each main Part, that gives the pupil a graphic but simple forecast of the main ideal dominating the group; (4) Notes and Questions that stress the contribution each story or poem makes to the main idea of the group; (5) A Review following each main division that serves, first, to crystallize into permanent form the various impressions left in the pupil's mind by the selections within each unit, and, second, to call into play the pupil's initiative, leading him to apply the ideas that dominate the group either through parallel readings or through his own experience.
Obviously a book that is to supply the pupil with a year's course in literature must be a generous volume. Variety is im
possible without quantity, especially where literary Quantity of wholes rather than fragmentary excerpts are ofLiterature
fered. Particularly is this true when complete units are included not only for intensive study, but also for extensive reading-longer units to be read mainly for the story-element. In bulk such units should be as large as the pupil can control readily in rapid silent reading, a kind of reading that increases the power to enjoy with intelligence a magazine or a book.
The Elson Readers, Book Eight, which is a condensation of Junior High School Literature, Book Two, is a generous volume that provides for these needs. Its inclusiveness makes possible a proper balance between prose and poetry, between long and