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THIS collection of READINGS IN LITERATURE is designed as a basal Reader for the seventh grade in the Grammar School or the first year of the Junior High School. In preparing it, the needs of early adolescence have been given especial consideration. In that period the attention cannot be long sustained and accuracy in detail cannot be long exacted. It is a period in which the emotional nature of children is most susceptible of right or wrong development, and in which the imagination begins to construct a new world in harmony with the changing ideals of youth. It is a period of omnivorous reading. The children have mastered the art of getting ideas from the printed page sufficiently to find in books a source of enjoyment, and it is, therefore, a critical period in the development of taste and discrimination. It is the time when children become conscious of self and of an inner life that is not yet adjusted to its social surroundings. They need to see the poetry of the commonplace rather than commonplace poetry; to see the significance of everyday virtues and common things as glorified and illumined by the seers of the human heart and the lovers of nature.
In accordance with these well-recognized characteristics of early youth, this Reader is made up chiefly of short selections that are artistic wholes, with only occasional excursions into longer masterpieces. The selections are chosen to cover a wide range of subjects that will foster the finer sentiments and start the imagination to working in many profitable directions. They have been largely taken from those great artists of literature whose unerring touch will lead children to appreciate literary excellence and to form correct standards of taste.
The range of children's interests has been kept in view by the selecting of masterpieces which will appeal to the youthful imagination, such as Lowell's "Singing Leaves,” Bryant's "Sella," and Lamb's delightful version of As You Like It.
The significance of the simple life and the poetry of everyday things is abundantly exemplified in short selections throughout the book and in such admirable longer selections as Dickens's "Mugby Junction," Thoreau's adventures at Walden Pond,
" and Whittier's “Snow-Bound.”
An attempt has been made to have the children become intimately acquainted with some of our great American men of letters — Cooper, Whittier, and Bryant — not only through their writings but by means of lightly drawn sketches of their lives. In addition to these sketches of authors, the book contains, on pages 396 to 402, brief biographical notes on all writers represented here.
Above all, the volume breathes American ideals and the spirit of democracy, from the stirring times prior to our Independence down to the recent day when Viviani placed a wreath at the tomb of Washington. To children at this age, the most interesting thing in history is the American Revolution, and advantage is taken of this interest by introducing, in the early part of the book, many significant sidelights on the beginnings of that period.
Acknowledgment for permission to use selections in this book is gratefully made to Katharine Lee Bates for the poem, “America the Beautiful"; to Little, Brown and Company for the selection from Parkman's La Salle and the Discovery of the Great West and the poem by Emily Dickinson; to Harper and Brothers for the selections from George William Curtis's Orations and Addresses and from Letters of James Russell Lowell ; to the Houghton Mifflin Company for the selection from The Familiar Letters of John Adams and His Wife, Abigail Adams edited by Charles Francis Adams; to G. P. Putnam's Sons of New York and London for the selection from William Cullen Bryant's Orations and Addresses; to Charles Scribner's Sons for the poems by Henry Van Dyke and Sidney Lanier; and to Small, Maynard and Company for “The Butterfly" from Tabb's Poems and for Bliss Carman's “Daisies.” The selections from Emerson, Hawthorne, Holmes, Longfellow, Lowell, Sill, Taylor, Thoreau, and Whittier are used by permission of, and by special arrangement with, the Houghton Mifflin Company, the authorized publishers of their works.