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Title: Literature in the Elementary School
Author: MacClintock, Porter Lander, 1873-1939
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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All Rights Reserved

Published November 1907
Second Impression October 1908
Third Impression September 1909
Fourth Impression November 1910
Fifth Impression March 1912
Sixth Impression October 1913
Seventh Impression November 1914

Composed and Printed By
The University of Chicago Press
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

TO W. D. M.

TO A. C. D.






This book had its origin in several years of experience and experiment
in teaching classes in literature in the Laboratory School of the
University of Chicago, when that fruitful venture in education was being
conducted by Professor John Dewey; in many years of private reading with
children; and in many years of lecturing to teachers of children.
Indeed, all the material bears the unconcealable marks of its origin as
lectures, it being extremely difficult to turn into decorous chapters in
a book, stuff which first took shape as spontaneous and informal

The central matter of the book was published as a series of articles in
the _Elementary School Teacher_ of October, November, and December,
1902, and a synopsis of the whole book was printed and widely circulated
in January, 1904. These facts may partially account for a certain
familiarity that many readers will perceive. May I venture to hope that
this sense of familiarity may also be partly accounted for by the fact
that the views expressed are consonant with those arrived at
independently by many recent students of literature and of children?

Were it not a matter of mere justice, this would be scarcely the place
to mention my debt of many kinds to Professor W. D. MacClintock of the
University of Chicago; the incalculable value of Professor Dewey's
influence and sympathy; and the unforgettable stimulation of Mrs.
Dewey's criticism. Neither is it more than justice to express my
gratitude for the patience of my publishers, which has endured both much
and long.

P. L. M.

June, 1907


CHAPTER                                                     PAGE
    I. LITERATURE IN THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL                     1

       TO RENDER IN THE EDUCATION OF CHILDREN                 16


   IV. STORY                                                  55

    V. THE CHOICE OF STORIES                                  77

   VI. FOLK-TALE AND FAIRY-STORY                              92

  VII. MYTH AS LITERATURE                                    113

 VIII. HERO-TALES AND ROMANCES                               131

   IX. REALISTIC STORIES                                     156

    X. NATURE AND ANIMAL STORIES                             170


  XII. POETRY                                                193

 XIII. DRAMA                                                 212


   XV. THE RETURN FROM THE CHILDREN                          242

  XVI. THE CORRELATIONS OF LITERATURE                        259

       OTHER THAN LITERATURE                                 277




According to the naïvely formal method of division of the old-fashioned
homiletics, the title itself offers a quite inevitable outline for the
discussion in this chapter--an outline that takes this form: (1)
literature; (2) literature in the school; (3) literature in the
elementary school; and while we may smile at the pat formality of the
little syllabus, we cannot resist its logic. Perhaps we can retain the
logic while we disguise the formality.

When one proposes to enter for any purpose or from any point of view, a
large field, especially a field that has already been much explored, he
feels that he must hasten to define his bounds, to stake out his
particular claim. But he makes a mistake if, in his haste to do this, he
fails to make clear his understanding of the location of the large field
and his conception of its nature. Any new discussion of literature must
justify itself at the beginning by declaring from what point of view it
will proceed and in what direction it will move. This seems a good
place, then, to declare that this whole discussion will concern itself
with literature as a part of the training of children. Yet this
discussion must constantly proceed in the light of certain fundamental
conclusions concerning literature in general, and in its essential
nature, and it will help us to stand upon common ground to state these

Literature, like every other subject that would claim a place as a
discipline in school, is called upon in our day of re-examination and
readjustment of the curriculum to make good its claim by showing that it
has in its nature something distinctive by virtue of which it performs
in the child's education some distinctive service. It is true, that no
subject of human interest is a quite detached island; pursued far
enough, its edges blur and mingle with the edges of neighboring
interests, so that there are regions where the two are
indistinguishable. But every body of material has a characteristic
center where it declares itself unmistakably. However widely it radiates
from this center, however many or however distant areas it touches and
mingles with upon its borders, in this center it is itself and nothing
else. This becomes clear when we consider some of the larger subjects of
educational discipline. There is, for example, a well-defined subject,
geography, though if one pursues it far, he comes in one direction upon
geology; in other directions, upon history or economics or sociology or
politics. Or to take another group of subjects, there is a region in
which you are dealing with anatomy, though on the edges of it you pass
imperceptibly into physiology or general biology.

For several reasons it is especially difficult to fix the bounds of
literature. It touches the margins of every other human interest; it may
reach into any of the areas about it for subject-matter; it shares with
all other subjects its means of expression; it lends to all other
subjects certain of its methods and devices, when these other subjects
must be presented effectively; its very name is applied loosely and half
figuratively to writing upon any subject, and for whatever purpose
produced. But for all this, literature, too, has its distinctive center,
where it can be differentiated from everything else.

We begin to make this differentiation when we say that literature is
art--that it is one of the fine arts. We set it apart from the other
arts by the fact that it uses language as its medium, and we set it
apart from other writing by the fact that it uses language in the way
art must use it--not for technical purposes, not as a medium for
teaching facts or doctrines, not to give information, but to produce
artistic pleasure; not to conserve use, but to exhibit aesthetic beauty.

When one's mind is clear on this point, he will not be confused by the
fact that literature handles matter from other provinces--history for
example--or by the fact that other kinds of writing borrow the devices
of literature to beautify or otherwise make effective their own
material. When Scott takes from history the figure of Richard Coeur de
Lion, it is not for the purpose of teaching historical fact, but for the
sake of putting into his picture a striking person and an effective
motive. When Macaulay employs many figures of speech, when he rounds out
his periods and balances them carefully, when he uses picturesque
concrete and particular persons and objects rather than abstractions and
generalizations, all to make clear and vivid the information he is
giving, he is still writing history and not literature, since he is
aiming first at fact and not first at beauty.

This recognition of literature as art, and the differentiation of it
from the other kinds of writing, so far from being a mere bit of
aesthetic theory remote from the teacher and his child, is the
fundamental and essential step in the teacher's procedure, because it
constitutes at once a clue to lead him in his choice of material, a
guide to direct him in the method of using it, and a standard to
indicate the nature of the result he may reasonably hope for. When the
teacher knows that he is to choose his literature as art he is freed
from the obligation of selecting such things as will contain technical
information, historical facts, desirable moral lessons, or other
utilitarian matter. This is far from saying that in choosing he will be
indifferent to the actual material details or to the moral atmosphere of
his bit of literature. The fitness or unfitness, the beauty or ugliness
of these will often be the ground of his adoption or rejection. It does
mean, however, that technical and professional details of fact and
teaching, matters which are always subsidiary and secondary in
literature as literature, cannot dictate his choice when he is choosing
from the point of view of art.

The habit of regarding literature as art clarifies immediately the
teacher's conception of his method of handling it. To teach literature
as literature is not to teach it as an adjunct to some other discipline;
it is not to teach it as reading-lessons, or spelling-lessons, nor as
grammar--though incidentally the lessons in literature will have great
value in all these directions; it is not to teach it as botany, as
history, as mythology, as politics, as naval or military tactics, or as
ethics--though again, by way of teaching it as literature, interesting
by-products in any of these subjects may accrue.

It is equally true that a clear understanding of the fact that the
results aimed at and legitimately hoped for are to be of the literary,
artistic kind, and not of the utilitarian or scientific kind, will
lighten and irradiate the teacher's problem and through him the
children's task, doing away with the sense of burden and substituting
for a vague and shifting end, a definite and delightful purpose.

To take a specific instance--it is very little to the purpose of
literature to have taught a class that Longfellow was an American poet
who lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts; and that, though the myth and
legend of Hiawatha properly belong to the Iroquois, Longfellow
transferred it to the Objibways. So far as the distinctively literary
result goes, these facts are neither here nor there. But the enjoyment
of the music of the verse, the loving appropriation and appreciation of
some of the beautiful images and pictures, some grasp of the large
meaning, the noble trend, of the whole poem, a general tuning-up of the
class to something like unison with its emotion, a better taste in the
whole class, and in a few members of it some improvement in their own
powers of expression--these are the kind of result at which the teacher
aims when he teaches literature as art.

The question of literature in the school has taken on a new aspect in
this our current day, and especially in American schools, owing to the
decidedly diminished place left for it in the modern curriculum. This
has come about most naturally in the vast enrichment of the course on
the side of scientific and occupational material. And naturally, too, in
the process of turning from a purely book-education, we have tended to
turn also from literature--a field which for many generations has seemed
to be inextricably shut up in books. But it is also true that, in a
large part, this turning-away from literature has been from literature
wrongfully apprehended and mistakenly taught. Whatever be the
explanation of the smaller place given to literature, no thoughtful
student of modern education, no matter how firmly he believes in the
function of literature, can regret that it should take in the curriculum
its due and proportionate place. Such a student knows best the follies
and absurdities achieved by untrained and inartistic teachers, in whose
hands literature is made the center to which they attach any and all
other matters of training; he best knows the fact that literature
leaves many of the child's powers and capacities untouched; he best
knows the danger of over-stimulating those powers and capacities that
literature does develop and strengthen, and that it is a misfortune for
a child or a class to live prevailingly in an atmosphere distinctively
literary; and he knows that a few specimens chosen aright and taught
aright produce the essentially literary result more surely and more
safely than such a programme as could once be seen in school--a
programme that seemed to reflect the teacher's desire to give the
children within the grammar school all the reading that they ought
reasonably to be expected to have up to maturity.

The choosing of literature for use _in school_ creates immediately
several important conditions. The bit chosen is elevated at once into
the dignity and isolation of a discipline, and is set apart from matter
to be read once and casually, for recreation or amusement, at home or in
hours of intellectual play, to the single child or a small group of
homogeneous children. In view of the fact that the specimen is being
chosen for use in class, it must be broad and typical, appealing, as it
were, to the universal child. It must not be merely fanciful, freakish,
satirical, or witty, because, while there is pretty sure to be some
child in every class who would appreciate its flavor, the others would
not, and could not be brought to such appreciation. It should not be too
imaginative, since it must make its appeal to a group whose experience
has been of many kinds and degrees, and it cannot count upon any uniform
body of apperception material that has paved the way into a very
delicate or very pervasive imaginative atmosphere. It must not be too
emotional, because the teacher must be aware of the hysterical children
in every class, and because it is next to impossible to tune up any
social group as large and as mixed as the class to anything like a high
emotional unison or complete artistic like-mindedness. What the class,
that composite child, needs are such things as display the broader,
simpler aspects of life and art, such as call out in them the simpler
and more direct responses.

If one is giving a story or a poem a single reading, and reading it
merely for recreation, he may pass so lightly over the details, and may
so handle its structure, that its weaknesses and faults may not appear,
or may easily be lost sight of in the emphasis laid upon the pleasant
and successful aspects. But a bit of literature selected for the class
must be worth while in every particular; it is to be lingered over,
digested, assimilated; it must be fitted to stand out in the light of
searching criticism--and the assembled class soon comes to be a very
acute and exacting critic; it is to stand the test of individual
question and community judgment. If, therefore, it is to become, as one
must hope, a part of the children's experience, a contribution to their
artistic and moral well-being; if it is to be a bit of real education,
it must be sound in structure, trustworthy in detail, satisfactory in
issue. No matter how simple it is, it should be good art, and chosen
upon the same critical principles that one would apply in choosing good
literature of any degree of complexity.

While it is a great mistake to suppose that literature for children is a
bit of garden ground to be considered apart from the general landscape,
it is true that there are certain characteristics of children within the
elementary period, and certain accepted conclusions concerning the
nature and spirit of their other work, that must be taken as guides in
the matter of their literature. It is not sufficient--though it cannot
be too often said that it is necessary--that the literature be good;
that, no matter how simple it be or how complex, it must satisfy the
demands of good criticism--however important it be that it be good, it
is equally important that it be fit.

One who reads the courses of study and lists of reading prepared for
the elementary grades, and examines the manuals for their teachers,
comes near concluding that the larger number of mistakes, and the
mistakes most disastrous, lie here--in losing sight of the principle of
fitness. For in these formal lists, and suggested in the manuals, one
may find, first and last, heaped up all that various teachers have
themselves happened to like; all that critics have praised; all whose
titles sound as if they ought to be good; all that is concerned more or
less remotely with other things the children are studying; all that a
generation of mistaken educational logic has suggested; all that a
mature reader ought to have read in a life-time; all that a blind
interpretation, both of childhood and of literature, has called
suitable--historical works, American literature, Shakespeare's comedies,
the _Idylls of the King_, sentimental and bloodthirsty juveniles--a
chaotic and accidental jumble. Out of some such haphazard impulse and
some such failure to apply the law of fitness come such mistakes as the
introduction of fifth-grade children into the mazes of a satiric social
comedy like _A Midsummer-Night's Dream_, or the placing of first-year
secondary children amid the bitter jests and baffling irony of _The
Vicar of Wakefield_. Such pedagogical misfits arise out of sheer
ignorance of the child's nature and its needs, and of the plainest
principles of literary interpretation. They persist year after year
because of the blind following of supposed authority, nowhere so blind
as in matters of literary opinion.

The preparation that should be made by the teacher who is to choose and
teach this literature is, after all, not so very formidable. We will
leave out of the discussion that mystic thing called the teacher's gift.
Undoubtedly there is such a thing; but it descendeth upon whom it
listeth, enabling him to choose by intuition and to teach by inspiration
the special bits of literature that prove to be best for the children.
But such a person is not safe, unless he supplement his gift with
knowledge; his choice is purely personal and esoteric, his principles
accidental and incommunicable.

What is the nature of the supplement such a teacher must make to his
gift? What is the training with which the teacher without the gift must
fortify himself? It is little more than one would like to have for his
personal culture, and little other than he is obliged to have for his
contact with the children in other directions. By dint of much reading
of literature and some reading in good criticism he must bring himself
to a sane view of the whole subject, realizing what literature is and
what it is not; what it can be expected to accomplish in human culture,
and what we cannot reasonably ask of it. He must know something of its
laws, that he may know how to judge it and when he has judged it aright.
This process will inevitably have refined and deepened his taste and
broadened his artistic experience in every direction. Of course, he will
not talk to his children about literature as an art, about critical
problems, structural principles, and all that; no more will he, when he
is guiding his class in evolving for themselves food and shelter by way
of beginning the study of history, talk to them about primitive culture
and social evolution. But he is an ill-equipped and untrustworthy guide
if he does not have in his own consciousness these large explaining
points of view. It is precisely so with the large fundamental principles
of literature. One gathers certainty and power for the choice and
teaching of the merest folk-tale, if he is able to see in it the working
of the great and simple laws of all art. And more specifically he must
imbue himself with the spirit of the childlike literature. He must know
and love the wonderful old folk and fairy tales, not regarding them as
matter for the nursery and the kindergarten, merely, but learning to
love them as great but simple art. He must read the hero tales and
romances till he knows them as a treasure house out of which he may draw
at his need. Many, many children's stories and poems he must read to be
able to judge them and he must read all those artists, Carroll,
Stevenson, Pater, Hauptman, who in _Alice_, _The Child's Garden_, _The
Child in the House_, _Hannele_, have done so much to interpret for us in
the artist's way the consciousness of the child.

In teaching literature, as in all that he does for the children, he will
have use for all the knowledge he can get of childhood and children; for
all that he can learn of the trend of conclusion in psychology and
educational philosophy; for all knowledge he can acquire as to the
meaning and import of all the other subjects of elementary instruction.
Only then can he choose and teach literature that is fit in both the
necessary senses--adapted to the children and harmonious in spirit with
the other interests they are pursuing. Out of such knowledge of his
material and his children there should grow a reasonably clear and
consistent vision of the result he hopes to reach and the steps he must
take to reach it. Out of all these elements should come the courage to
examine fearlessly the traditional material. Better still, out of this
combination will come that faith, enthusiasm, and respect for his
material, that confidence in its usefulness, that hopefulness as to its
results, which are desirable in a teacher of any subject, but which are
absolutely essential in the equipment of a teacher of literature;
because he must above all things radiate both light and warmth; he must
diffuse about his material and his children the breath of life and the
glow of art.



It would seem to be no part of the present discussion to go into the
fundamental processes of determining and defining a child's needs and
tastes. In this matter we may assume and build upon the larger
conclusions of psychology and educational philosophy. And it is only the
larger and more general conclusions that we need, both because there is
no doubt concerning them, as there may be concerning those more detailed
and remote, and because when we are dealing with children in school, and
in class, we are dealing with the type-child--with a composite child, as
it were, to whom we can apply only the larger conclusions.

Everyone who helps to train a child must realize as a practical fact
that he has both needs and tastes. The emphasis wisely placed in our day
upon enlisting a child's interests and tastes has tended to mislead the
unwary and undo the unobservant, so as to produce a blindness or an
indifference as to his needs. Though, as a matter of mere justice, one
must add that the blindness and indifference have had their existence
chiefly in the indictments of those who opposed the movement when it was

Few parents or teachers may now be found so benighted as to deny the
delight and profit of letting the child grow in all the joy and freedom
possible, following his instinctive interests, expressing his original
primitive impulses. But we must grant, however sadly, that the modern
child is not to be a member of a primitive society; that he is living
and to live in a complex, advanced community, to whose standards he must
be, on the whole, adjusted and adapted. Therefore, his interests and
activities must be channeled and guided; new interests must be awakened;
he must be in a certain sense put, while he is still a child, into
possession of what his race has acquired only after many generations.

In literature then, as in the other subjects, we must try to do three
things: (1) allow and meet appropriately the child's native and
instinctive interests and tastes; (2) cultivate and direct these; (3)
awaken in him new and missing interests and tastes. What is there in
literature serviceable for any or all of these purposes, and is there in
literature anything that is distinctively and uniquely useful in the
whole process? It seems only reasonable to look for the answers to
these questions among the distinctive features of literature.

The most conspicuous and distinguishing fact about literature is, of
course, its relation to the imagination. Now, when the student of
literature or any other art talks about the imagination, he must be
allowed to begin, as one may say, where the psychologist leaves off,
because, while the psychologist as a scientist likes to limit his
attention to the mind acting as imagination, the literary critic must
consider, not only this activity of the mind, but its product--a product
that presents itself as an elaborate phenomenon. This is the reason why
the natural process of the literary critic seems to the student of
psychology a beginning at the wrong end; because it is a beginning with
an objective product, and with the larger and more salient features of
that product.

Literature finds its material in nature, and in human nature and life.
It has no source of supply other than that of every other kind of human
thought. But before this material becomes literature, the imagination
has lifted it from its place in the actual world and elevated it to the
plane of art. Working upon this plane with this material, the
imagination modifies, transforms, rearranges it, making new
combinations, discovering unsuspected relations, bringing to light
hidden qualities, revealing new likenesses and unlikenesses; and at last
returns to us a product that is a new creation. Working in its larger
creative capacity, the imagination constructs out of material which may
be scattered or chaotic when gathered by observation, unified and
organic wholes.

Indeed this large whole, this completed edifice that the art-product
presents is itself an image, a vision present from the beginning of the
process of creating. As the architect sees before he begins to build,
the plan of his house as a whole and measurably complete thing, so the
literary artist has from the beginning this large image, this plan
presenting the main features of the thing he is to produce. This allows
for the fact that new details are added as he goes on, the plan modified
or transformed. But the artist's final result starts as an image.

This is not mere aesthetic prosing. We must set it down as vitally
important in the point of view of the teacher of literature, that he
must look at his material as the product of the imagination in these
four ways: first, the imagination presents the large image or plan;
second, it chooses the material; third, it decorates, purifies, or
otherwise modifies it; fourth, it organizes or recombines it. This
recombination into a new whole, no matter how simple it is, will, if it
be art at all, display in some degree the large qualities common to all
art-form--unity, variety, symmetry, proportion, harmony. It is the fact
that in literature you have a large but manageable whole got together
under laws producing these qualities and making for completeness and
beauty--it is this fact that gives to literature a large share of its
power in cultivating the child's imagination.

Now, there is a very common misapprehension of this phrase "cultivation
of the imagination," many people taking it for granted that it
invariably and exclusively means increasing the amount of a child's
fancy, or the number of his fancies. Undoubtedly this is one of the
effects of literature, and undoubtedly it is sometimes a desirable
thing. There are children born without imagination, or so early crushed
down by the commonplaceness of the adult world that they seem never to
have a fancy--to be entirely without an inner life or a spiritual
playground. But the average child has abundant imagination, and an
abundance of imaginations; while children of the artistic or emotional
temperament may often be found, especially in the period gathering about
the seventh year, living in a world of their own creating, moving in a
maze of fantastic notions and combinations of notions, unable to see
actual things, and unable to report the facts of an observation or an
experience, because of the throng of purely fanciful and invented
details that fills their consciousness. To increase the amount of such a
child's imaginative material would be a mistake; to throttle or ignore
his imaginative activities would be a mistake still more serious.

We all know the two paths, one of which is likely to be followed by such
a child. Either he drifts on, indulging his dreams, inventing unguided
fancies, following new vagaries, and later reading those loose, wild,
and sentimental things into which his own taste guides him, till all his
mental processes become untrustworthy; or he is taken in hand, given
fact-studies exclusively, becomes ashamed of his fancies, or loses
interest in them because they bear no relation to anything in the actual
world as he is learning to know it, and finally loses completely his
artistic imaginative power.

As an aid toward averting either of these disasters, the imaginative
child--who is the average child--as well as the over-fanciful one, needs
to have developed in him some ability to select among his fancies, so as
to cling to the beautiful and useful, and discard the idle ones. To do
this, he must get the ability to put them together in some plan or
system that satisfies both his taste and his judgment. They are
permanently serviceable either for work or for play only when they
attach one to another and cohere into a somewhat orderly whole. One is
tempted to think that to put the children into possession of such a
faculty or such an accomplishment is the most important step in
elementary training, because, as a matter of course, it at once radiates
from the handling of their invented or fanciful material into the
ordering of that which they gather from deliberate observation; and, as
most often happens, the artistic imagination lends a helping hand to the
scientific imagination. Undoubtedly the pleasantest way and the way that
lies most readily open in helping the children to acquire and develop
this faculty, is the way of literature. Here it is that they see most
easily and learn to know most thoroughly those complete and orderly
wholes made up from beautiful or significant details, with nothing left
fragmentary or unattached. Of course the teacher must choose his bit of
literature with a view to this effect--a lyric, a ballad, a story, that
actually does show economy of material, reasonable and effective
arrangement of details, and a satisfying issue. Not all the literature
available for children does display these qualities. Compare, for
example, Perrault's _Cinderella_ with Grimm's version of the same tale.
The former, whatever the faults of style in the English version we all
know, is so far as structure goes, a little classic, having plenty of
fancy, to be sure, but exhibiting also perfect economy of incident,
certainty and delicacy in the selection and arrangement of details,
restraint and truthfulness in the outcome; while the Grimm story shows
the chaotic, unguided, wasteful choice and arrangement of the mind which
remains the victim of its own fancies. The one is mere art-stuff, the
other is art.

Now, one would hasten to add that there are children in every class, and
it may be in every family--unimaginative, matter-of-fact, commonplace
children--who need to have given them, and to learn to enjoy, if
possible, the mere vagaries and haphazard inventions; and it would be a
pity to deprive any child of them in his hours of intellectual play. But
it is from his contact, frequent and deep, with the more artistic and
ordered bits of literature that we may expect the child to find that
special cultivation of the imagination, the power of seeing an organized
imaginative whole; and out of this experience should grow the further
power, so important in this stage of his education--that of grasping,
and constructing out of his own material, such complete and ordered

Another way in which the imagination works in literature is of peculiar
importance, for the children. This, too, is precisely one of those
characteristics that distinguish literature from everything else. It
lies in the fact that, unlike other kinds of writing, literature
proceeds by the presentation of concrete, specific details, the actual
image, or images, combined into a definite picture, elevated from the
world of actuality to the plane of art, or created on that plane out of
details gathered from any source. In proportion as we find in literature
abstract thinking, statement of general truth or plain fact, facsimile
description or mere sentimentalizing, in that proportion do we find it
dull and inartistic. "The orange is a reddish-yellow semi-tropical
fruit," is a statement of fact plain and scientific. It would be so
inartistic as to be absurd in a line of poetry. "Among the dark boughs
the golden orange glows," lifts the object into the world of art, sets
it in a picture, even gives it to us in the round, makes it moving and
vital. "The foxglove blooms centripetally," one may say as dry fact, but
when the poet says

     The fox-gloves drop from throat to top
     A daily lesser bell,

while he conveys the same fact, he does it in the terms of a definite
single image, a specific individual process, that gives reality and
distinction. It is by virtue of this method of presenting its material
that literature performs another valuable and definite service for the
child. This lies in increasing and supplementing in many directions his
store of images. Of course, even the ordinary child has many images,
since he has eyes and ears always open and fingers always active. But
the sights and sounds he sees are not widely varied, and are rarely
beautiful. It is the extraordinary, the occasional child who sees in his
home many beautiful objects, who often hears good music, who sees in his
street noble buildings, who is taken to the woods, the mountains, the
sea, where he may store up many beautiful and distinguished images to
serve him later for inner joy and as material for thinking. The other
child whose experience is bounded by the streets, the shops, or the
farm, will find his store of images increased and enriched by
contributions from literature. And the fact that the images and pictures
in literature are given with concreteness, with vividness, with vitality
in them, not as abstractions nor as technical description, gives them
place in the consciousness side by side with those registered by the
memory from actual experience, and they serve the same purposes.

Indeed, the mere raising of a detail to the plane of art, the fitting of
an image or a picture into a poem or a story, gives it new distinction
and increases its value. Says Fra Lippo:

     ... we're made so that we love
     First when we see them painted things we have passed
     Perhaps a hundred times nor cared to see.

So the child, when the details he knows or may know in real life are set
in literature, sees them surrounded with a halo of new beauty and value.
This halo, this well-known radiance of art, spreads itself over the
objects that he sees about him, and they, too, take on a new beauty, and
so pass into his storehouse of images with their meaning and usefulness

Whatever else may be the function of the imagination in literature it
has these two--that of seeing and creating organic wholes, and that of
presenting concrete images and pictures; these two would entitle it to a
distinctive place in the training of a child's imagination.

As an accompaniment, perhaps as a consequence, of the tendency of the
imagination to unify and harmonize its material by seeking always a
deeper basis and a larger category, and the other tendency to use in
literature the specific detail rather than the generalization, we have
the fact of figurative thinking and speaking as a characteristic of this
art. A figure involves the discovery of a striking or essential contrast
or contradiction between objects, or the recognition of a likeness or
affinity ranging in closeness from mere similarity to complete
identification. Whichever be the process, the result is the universal
and typical meanings of literature, its pleasing indirection of
statement, its enlarged outlook upon many other spheres, the vista of
suggestion and association opening in every direction, the surprised,
the shocked or delighted recognitions, that await us on every page. We
will pass by as mystical and not demonstrable the inviting theory that a
contact with these contrasts and resemblances may put into the hands of
the child a clue to the better arrangement of the fragments that compose
his world, and may help on in him that process of unification and
identification which is the paramount human task; we must leave out of
sight here, as too speculative and unpractical, the enlargement and
definition of his categories that would come to the child as it comes to
everyone, with even the most elementary recognition of the fundamental
separations and unions involved in figures; these we may leave aside,
while we take the simple and quite obvious aspect of the matter--that
the study and understanding of even the commoner figures quicken the
child's intelligence, and help to develop mental alertness and
certainty. Not even a sense of humor is so useful in his intellectual
experience as the ability to understand and use figures of speech. What
makes so pathetic or so appalling a spectacle as the person who never
catches the transferred and ironic turns of expression of which even
ordinary conversation is full? The poor belated mind stands helpless
amidst the play of allusion that flashes all about him, and not even
fear of thunder, which is the most alert sensation Emerson can attribute
to him, can put him into touch with his kind. The best place to train a
child toward quickness, the mental ease and adroitness that come of a
ready understanding and use of figure is in literature, one of whose
signal characteristics is the use of figure. The appreciation of remote
and delicate figures will, of course, come later in a student's
experience than the elementary years, after he has had more contact with
life and the world and a much widened experience in literature. But the
child who has been taught to understand and to use any of the simpler
figures has been helped a long way on the road of art and philosophy.

Literature differs from other kinds of writing in its use of language,
since it constantly aims at beautiful and striking expression. Since it
often seeks beautiful and delicate effects, it is more often closely
accurate than other kinds of writing; and since it sometimes seeks
strong, noble effects, it is sometimes more vigorous than other writing.
For the same and kindred reasons it seeks variety of expression, and so
displays a larger choice of words, including new and rare words. These
facts have an immediate and beneficial effect upon the style and
vocabulary of the children. The fact is plainly obvious to anyone who
has observed the superiority as to vocabulary and form of those children
who have had much reading or who come from a literary family, and has
seen the improvement of all the children in these matters as they add to
their experience in literature. This enrichment and refinement of
language must be reckoned among the distinctive services of literature.

Literature, in common with the other arts, but unlike other kinds of
writing, aims at beauty--cares first of all for beauty. One must
understand the term, of course, as artistic or aesthetic beauty, as it
has been interpreted for us from Plato down, as quite other than mere
prettiness or superficial attractiveness. First, in the selection of its
subject-matter it is the strikingly beautiful in nature, in character,
in action, and in experience that it seeks out for presentation. When it
uses ugly or horrible material, it is for one of these purposes: by way
of bringing into stronger relief beauty actually presented beside it; by
way of implying beauty not actually presented; by way of producing the
grotesque as a form of beauty; by way of awakening fear or terror, which
are elements in one kind of beauty; or by way of accomplishing some
exploitation or reform conceived by the artist as his duty or his
opportunity; so that the artist's use of ugly material produces in every
case some effect of beauty. Now the problem of the child's contact with
beauty as the material or subject-matter of literature is the problem of
his contact with it anywhere else. We cannot too often remind ourselves
that the material in literature is that of life and the actual world
chosen out, often freed from accidental and temporary qualities, and put
into suitable setting in art. It therefore makes an appeal not different
in kind, and in many cases not different in intensity, from the appeal
of objects perceived by the actual senses. Accepting once for all the
conditions of the imagination, we must conclude that the effect upon
the child's taste is the same as in his contact with beautiful and noble
objects under conditions of outer space. And as, when we adopt the
psychology and pedagogy of Whitman's "There was a child went forth,"
believing that all that the little traveler encounters becomes really
and truly a part of him, we are eager to have him encounter the most
beautiful sights and sounds of the physical world, so we earnestly
desire for him contact with the noble and beautiful objects and persons
of the other-world of literature.

In the second place, literature, whether it be handling beautiful
material or for any reason dealing with ugly material, is always seeking
beauty of form. There are the larger matters of art-form, such as unity,
harmony, completeness, balance--those large beneficent elements of
beauty which should be in the child's literature as in all his other
art, constituting the genial atmosphere which he breathes in without
knowing it. Of course, one does not talk to him about them, but there
they are in his story, his picture, his song, bringing their gift of
certainty and repose. Then there are the more concrete and obvious
details of formal beauty that belong distinctively to the literary art,
and are partly matters of craftsmanship--the musical effect of the
spoken word, prose or verse, the choice word or phase, the beautiful
arrangement of clause or sentence. Certain of these elements may be
deliberately brought to the child's attention, others may not. But in
either case they help to form the whole atmosphere of beauty and
distinction that surrounds a bit of good literature. And we cannot fail
to believe in the refining and stimulating influence upon the child's
taste of his contact with formal beauty in this as in the other arts.

As distinctive of literature, setting it apart from other kinds of
writing, one must note that it always has in it the warmth, the fervor,
of emotion, "Dowered with the scorn of scorn, the love of love, the hate
of hate," is the poet, and always the glow of feeling lights up his
line. "The foxglove blooms centripetally," is cold and colorless,
however interesting it may be as technical fact,

     The fox-gloves drop from throat to top,
     A daily lesser bell

quivers with emotional associations. "I come to bury Caesar not to
praise him"--the caesura of that line is Mark Antony's sob, and the
sympathetic throb of the elementary class.

     The king sits in Dumfermline toun
     Drinking the blude-red wine.

What strange thrill is this that goes down the eight-year-old's spine
at the sound of these words?

     It was an ancient mariner
     And he stoppeth one of three.

The mere lines submerge us at once in a new atmosphere tingling with
charmed excitement.

One would like to say with some new meaning and emphasis that it is
precisely this emotion, permeating, warming, and coloring literature,
that gives it its reality, that establishes its hold, that gives it its
relation to the world--on the one side reflecting life on the other
producing life.

But it is about this matter of emotion that the teacher's dangers and
misgivings lie. There are those who fix upon its emotional nature as
grounds for suspicion, if not of condemnation, of literature as a means
of discipline. And we must all hasten to confess that this atmosphere of
emotion is the snare of the weak teacher and the curse of weak
literature. Emotion displayed or aroused unworthily, or attached to
inadequate or ignoble stimuli, is either mere sentimentality or undue
enthusiasm. It should be reckoned nothing short of a crime to stimulate
unduly a child's emotion, and to awaken in him feelings for which his
nature is not ripe. But the policy or theory of ignoring his emotions,
of suppressing them, or of keeping them subdued in school within the
bounds of his mild pleasure in scientific observation or mathematical
achievement, is surely short-sighted. If the day has not already come,
it is fast approaching when we shall see that education means also the
calling out and exercising of the feelings--when we shall realize the
dessicating influence of American school training upon the emotional
nature of children. It should not be difficult for any teacher who has
studied the problems of childhood, and who has learned something about
judging literature, to choose such literary things as reflect and invite
the kind and degree of feeling suitable for a child, as give him
legitimate occasion for legitimate emotion, as exercise and cultivate
this side of his nature, effecting in him that purifying discharge of
emotion which Aristotle regarded as one of the helpful offices of
literature. It is a matter for rejoicing that in the atmosphere of
feeling which surrounds literature and music we may counteract and
balance in the child the hardening influence of his fact-studies and his
general school discipline.

The mere pragmatism of the teaching often turned against literature as a
discipline, that every emotional state should eventuate in activity, is
met by the contention that the admiration or contempt called out by the
record of the courageous or cowardly deed, the apprehension and
enjoyment of the musical line or the beautiful image, contain their own
issue and event. They register at once a higher moral standard or a
quickened and deepened taste.

It has already been said, and it must be said again, that it is by
virtue of this emotional grip coupled with the powerful and
ever-to-be-reckoned-with instinct for imitation, that literature takes
hold upon us, passes into our lives, affecting our judgment, our ideals,
our conduct.

     We live by admiration, hope, and love,
     And even as these are well and wisely placed,
     In dignity of being we ascend.

says Wordsworth; and literature affords many opportunities of placing
well and wisely these living and life-giving emotions.

This brings us at once to the vision of another service rendered the
child by literature. Here he is as if he looked upon life. He sees
events worked out to the issue; he sees people expressing themselves in
deeds and words, transforming themselves and others for good or bad,
calling upon him for approval or condemnation, or for sympathy. He finds
here his heroes, his ideals, his models. He learns manners without tears
and morals without a sermon. In some sense he sees life steadily, and
sees it whole, so that he widens his social horizon to take in these
many groups of all sorts of men; mentally and morally he must enlarge to
contain the persons and events he learns to know. It is impossible to
overestimate the importance in a child's moral life, whether we
interpret this as a social or an individual matter, of the contribution
made by literature to his vision, his pattern, of society and of
character. This ability of literature to influence the child's inner
life and his conduct is so real that it has as many dangers as
advantages. There must be no mistakes in selecting for him, if he is to
ascend in dignity of being by the steps of literature. It must contain
those pictures of life and conduct that are fit and suitable for the
child to witness, and possible for him to comprehend. They must be sound
to the core, arousing and permanently engaging his genuine interest and
his best feelings.

And after all, the best thing we can do for a child in teaching him
literature is to give him a permanent and innocent joy. We all have our
moods in which we are ready to say that the first unconscious,
unpremeditated pleasure that comes of a bit of literature is the only
result worth having. And we who are professing teachers of literature
have times of abnormal sensitiveness to the scorn of the dilettante
critics who call us academical and pedagogical. And though we know that
pleasure in literature has its elements and its causes, both easily
observable, and that taste may be fostered and grown by well-known
processes, it is always a wholesome hour for us when we are thrust back
upon the fact that, though we may have disciplined his imagination, and
may have quickened his fancy; we may have awakened and strengthened his
sense of beauty; we may have exercised and cultivated his emotions; we
may have enlarged his outlook upon life, and have provided him with
social and personal ideals; it is nevertheless, better than all these
because it includes most of them, if we have opened up for our scholar
this permanent avenue of noble enjoyment.

Now, not all these results will appear in all the children. Some of them
the teacher will not see in any child of certain classes. They are not
easily ponderable and measurable--even less so than those of other
disciplines. It is easy to know when a child can multiply and divide. It
is not easy to know when he is in a hopeful stage of literary
experience. But it is only in the direction of the results we have been
discussing that the teacher of literature can always hopefully work.



In modern literary study we have been placing much emphasis upon the
kinds or species of literary production. In the light of the aesthetics
of our day and the newer psychology of art we have been learning much
concerning the nature, the function, and one might say the habits of
these species. These studies have coincided in time, most opportunely
for the teacher of literature, with those that have aimed at the
establishing of the needs and tastes of the elementary and adolescent
ages. There is a real satisfaction born of the confidence one feels in
approaching his problem of choosing literature for children from these
two largest points of view--that of the species or fundamental kinds of
literature on the one hand, that of the child's actual needs and tastes
on the other. This method of approach seems to put the whole field
adequately before his view, and to give authority and certainty to his
final choice.

As a matter of fact there are certain characteristics invariable and
inevitable in each of the five species of literature--epic, drama,
lyric, fiction, essay--that tell us at once something of its fitness for
our purpose. The essay, for example in its typical form is by its
essential nature inappropriate. The literary essay, as it is actually
constituted, is in subject-matter too abstract and remote, in mood too
complex and intricate, and in style too allusive and evasive. Its
invitation is to a region for which a child has neither chart nor map.
The essay rests upon old, old presuppositions; these very
presuppositions it is that must be slowly and through many experiences
built into the mental life of the child. To be sure, there are a few
bits called essays--such as certain of Lamb's more anecdotal papers,
some of the narrative numbers of _The Spectator_, nature-studies with
marked literary qualities like some of those of John Burroughs--that the
grades can understand and enjoy. But these are not typical essays, and
they have not the true essay spirit. This spirit, which creates for
itself an atmosphere hard to describe, compounded as it is of universal
knowingness, ironic indirection, delicately intellectual emotion, and
faintly emotional intellectuality--this spirit is quite alien to

And as it is actually constituted, the literary drama, too, represents
a life and presents an art-form so complex and so mature as to be beyond
a child's grasp. Not until this period is closing--and with many
children not even then--comes the hour of ripeness for the drama. This
question of the child and dramatic literature has so many conditions and
modifications that it must be discussed at length in another chapter.
But it is evident to every sympathetic student of childhood that this is
not the period to present the complex situations, the difficult
problems, the over-ripe experiences, that prevailingly constitute the
material of literary drama.

The literature we do give the children should correspond to the stage of
their development in matching as nearly as may be, in tone and spirit
their own activities and interests, or should be calculated to arouse in
them those interests and activities they ought legitimately to have. It
should be of that kind that gives a large free sweep of activity; that
reveals character and conduct in their simpler, open aspects; that
exhibits literary art phenomena in their plainer, more striking
varieties. These qualities are to be found in chosen specimens of the
three other species of literature--epic, fiction, lyric. Of course one
must select from each of the three those specimens that do exhibit the
qualities he seeks. He could not offer to children a developed epic in
its entirety; but there are many things of the epic kind--ballads,
hero-tales, fairy-sagas, certain detachable sections of the great epics
themselves--precisely suited to them. We would not introduce them into a
mature novel, but there are _Märchen_ for them, tales of conquest and
adventure, stories of other children's doings. They would be lost and
bored in the presence of the elegy or the sonnet; but we may find
jingles and songs, and later on odes, fit and right for them.

In the epic kind of literature we include not only the epic, but all
those other poetic compositions whose principles of organization is
narrative--ballad, pastoral, idyll, etc. The presupposition in favor of
them as good for the children (and it is borne out by the demonstration)
lies in these two facts: they are concerned with events and
achievements, and are therefore likely to be active and objective; they
proceed by the method of story--the easiest and most helpful for the
child to follow and to grasp. It seems necessary to say again that the
members of the epic group must be scanned as narrowly with reference to
their fitness in subject-matter and suitability in form as those of any
other group. There is a fallacy in the assumption that epic is a
childlike thing, the product of the childhood of the race. This is akin
to the amusing opinion that myth--Greek myth, for example--is a
childlike accumulation of childish inventions. Nay, epic poetry, even
those epics that seem most nearly folk-poetry--the _Béowulf_, for
example--are built upon hoary civilizations, each of them having behind
it an art-tradition already old. And if there is an unwarranted
assumption in the theory that epic is childlike, there is an
unwarrantable presumption in the theory that the mature person outgrows
it--that its appeal is only to a primitive and undeveloped taste. The
value to the child of the epic is in its objectivity and activity, its
large horizons and big spaces. The taste for these things should survive
and grow stronger, as should every good taste planted and fostered in
childhood. The mature person but adds to his enjoyment of these things a
deeper enjoyment as he grows to appreciate the finer details and subtler
meanings hidden from the child. The merest primary child can love and
enjoy the heroic or amusing adventures of Odysseus; he should enjoy them
equally when he is forty; but by that time he will have added the
ability to appreciate also the wealth of artistic detail, the profound
knowledge of human nature, the large mental and religious atmosphere of
the poem. For most of this added enjoyment the child has and should
have no intellectual welcome, no space yet ready.

Therefore, in giving the great epics, the teacher must know what
aspects, details, and episodes to pass by or to pass lightly over. And
he must look carefully to the fitness of any piece of this kind he may
consider. It is not sufficient that it have a story. For example _Sohrab
and Rustum_ is a little epic which fits perfectly certain seventh or
eighth grades, because, in addition to a sufficiently good story, it has
an atmosphere of vast spaces and large movements, a wealth of broad,
noble details; and above all, it handles and evokes a simple, primitive
emotion, a sorrow which is as impersonal as the sorrows of Odysseus--a
true epic sorrow. In contrast, _Enoch Arden_, another piece of the epic
kind, is not adapted to children of any age, because it displays a
complex domestic and psychic situation which no child ought to be called
upon to realize, while the emotion called for is both in kind and amount
the sentimentality of adults. Even among the folk-ballads the same
discrimination must guide us. _Sir Patrick Spens_ is the boy's own;
while the poignant pathos of _Young Waters_, true and piercing as it is,
is not for the boy to feel.

So, as will be said many times, but always with meaning, we choose,
when we are sane, not the novel, complex in plot, involved in motive,
overcharged in emotional atmosphere, but the simple, direct-moving
romance, the hero-tale, whose subject-matter and method are so broad and
universal as to fit even the child. We can welcome, for example, the
hearty boyishness of _Quentin Durward_ or _Kidnapped_, where we could
not pilot our elementary class safe through the social and ethical
sophistications of _The Heart of Midlothian_, nor steer them
intelligently through the involved structure and difficult narrative
medium of _The Master of Ballantrae_.

So with the lyric form. If one's choice of a lyric lay between "The
splendor falls on castle walls" and "Tears, idle tears," he would
renounce the complex mature moods, the figures and allusions for which
the child's experience has given him no preparation, the pervading tone
of rich melancholy of the one, in favor of the buoyant objectivity and
more obvious emotional mood of the other.

Through all the earlier years of the elementary school with some
classes, and in some communities throughout the period, the literary
experience of the children may best be made up from specimens of these
three species. It may be, however, that certain seventh or eighth grades
(merely to name the older children) will be found mature enough to
profit by the study of certain of the more heroic literary dramas. The
same tests of objectivity and simplicity must be applied in selecting
these. We should choose, for example, the obvious, and boisterous fun of
_The Comedy of Errors_, rather than the half-hidden satire of _A
Midsummer-Night's Dream_; _Julius Caesar_, since it may fitly be taught
as a heroic tragedy; _Macbeth_, which, however violent in motive and
method, is still direct and simple enough to be within the child's
imaginative realization.

In most schools also, we may count upon finding in these oldest children
in the elementary grades some power of meditation, some interest in
abstract questions, some appreciation of humor and wit, much love of
eloquence; so that in this last year they may profitably read in class
some essays. To be sure, we will choose, not Montaigne, but Bacon; not
Pater, but John Burroughs; not _Dream Children_, but _A Dissertation on
Roast Pig_. In short, we will avoid the critical and the mystical in
essays, and give them objective out-of-door essays like _Wake-Robin_,
humorous anecdotal essays like _Old China_, eloquent oratorical essays
like Gladstone's _Kin Beyond Sea_.

Indeed, during this seventh and eighth grade period begins the child's
hour of ripeness for eloquence and oratory. And it is wise and easy to
meet and supply his interest with essays of the address variety, which
do for him the characteristic services performed by the literary essay,
at the same time that they satisfy his awakening hunger for the rolling
music of the oratorical form, answer to his dawning interest in the big
world and great questions, and help to build a bridge for him into the
public speaking and dramatic aspects of his literary work that he will
find, or ought to find, in the secondary school.

For want of a good term, I have used, in the title to this chapter, the
word "elements" to designate all the details that go to make up the
literary work of art. Into this term we cover, for mere convenience, and
to avoid cumbering ourselves with a tiresome and profitless bit of
syllabus-making, these and such matters: structure, story, plot,
incident, character, verse, image, figure, epithet, and many other
details used to produce the total effect of a bit of literature. It
becomes necessary to inquire which among these elements we shall expect
to find serviceable for our purpose. Of course, they are all valuable
even for a child in the sense that they all contribute to the general
effect upon his consciousness; but certain of them may profitably be
brought into high light and deliberately impressed upon the class;
others would best be left lying by for his adult appreciation.

Take for example, the matter of structure, by which we mean the larger
plan or composition by virtue of which the bit of art--poem or
story--has a beginning a middle and an end; by virtue of which it starts
somewhere, proceeds in an orderly manner, and reaches a destination; as,
for example, in our ever admirable _The Old Woman Who Found the
Sixpence_, where you have the sixpence found, the pig bought, the
obstacles on the road home, the acquiescence of the cat, the unraveling
of the difficulties, the safe return home--a most orderly
interdependence and sequence of incidents; or, as an example of a
different kind of structure, Stevenson's _Foreign Lands_: the child
climbing the cherry tree sees his own garden at his feet, his neighbor's
garden over the wall, follows the white road to its disappearance,
traces the river to its vanishment, follows it in his mind's eye to its
fall into the far-away sea, and then strays on and on into the
other-world of his own fancy--a perfect vanishing perspective; or
examine with this matter of structure in mind Tennyson's _Bugle-Song_,
where you will find a balanced, orderly composition--the horn, the
actual echo, the spiritual echo.

Nothing in literature has a higher educational value than this element
of orderly structure, of good "composition." It should be unobtrusively
present in practically everything the class learns, and should be
deliberately brought to notice, and should be provided for in everything
the children produce. It stands to reason that the story is the form
which will most constantly and most easily present this element of
structure, and that in their study of stories the children can best be
impressed with a sense of their bit of art as a whole made up of parts.
This aspect of story, as well as the consideration of plot, incident,
and character, will receive a more extended treatment than can be given
here, in the special chapter on story.

As to the smaller elements of literature, it is rather contrary to the
best educational thinking of our day to expect the elementary child to
show much appreciation of them. It would be a mistake to place any
emphasis in teaching him upon delicate or obscure phases of these
elements; though there will be, naturally, within the period a growing
fineness of appreciation and quickness of perception in these matters.
Among the youngest children the elements to be emphasized are chiefly
those concerned with the musical effects of speech. The teacher will do
everything possible to develop and cultivate in the child a love of
rhythm--the musical flow of language, whether of verse or prose. In the
verse he will try to awaken an enjoyment of rhyme and of meter, of any
specially musical collocation of words, of instances of tone-color or
other poetic harmony. This cultivation of the child's ear for literature
should go on through his whole school life. It should be one of the
considerations that weigh in choosing the material for his literary
training even throughout his college experience, in order that his ear
for musical speech may grow ever more subtle, more responsive to the
delicate and noble cadences of poetry and of beautiful prose. Beautiful
and musical speech is the crowning quality of literature, and the final
note of distinction in style, and no amount of originality in image or
figure, no degree of delicate fitness in word or phrase, no perfection
of skill in logical coherence and arrangement, should persuade us to
forgo it.

In a class of the younger children the teacher may hope to get attention
to an occasional image or larger picture; he may even occasionally
secure some deliberate consideration of a figure. And he may be sure,
whether their interest in these minor matters be steady and deliberate
or not, that he is at least helping them all the while to new and
useful words, and to a constantly improved sentence-form.

As they grow older, and capable of more attention and patience, they
grow rapidly more able to give conscious consideration to literary
details. The children of fifth and sixth-grade age will linger over
especially beautiful and appropriate words, will stop to realize in
detail the pictures, and will consider figures long enough to
appropriate them artistically. The normal child has an interesting
history with regard to figures of speech. Personification he accepts at
once. Indeed, it is perhaps not a figure to him, but a reality, though
he seems to get out of it a conscious artistic joy. Such personification
as "the daffodil unties her yellow bonnet" he can see and appreciate as
figure. Metaphor is his native speech, and, so long as it involves no
material beyond his power of realization, he has no trouble with it--in
appreciating it or in producing it. Simile is more baffling; it is
easier to go immediately and intuitively to the meaning of a metaphor
than to carry in the mind the two expressed sides of the simile. The
younger children are puzzled and confused by the details of a Homeric
simile. But children old enough to read _Sohrab and Rustum_, if they
have been taught how to hold their minds on an artistic detail, are
willing to stop and appreciate the two groups of details in each of
Arnold's similes. But no elementary child will make a Homeric, or indeed
any simile, except as a _tour de force_. Antithesis as a striking and
obvious figure is easy and illuminating to children, and seems to come
to them quite spontaneously in their own composing. The more subtle
figures they will neither appreciate nor use within our period. The
fable as allegory and the more extended allegories, even those complex
enough to be called symbolistic stories, the seventh and eighth grades
in the average school will read and interpret acceptably. On the whole,
we may expect to give most of the children some knowledge of the
literary nature and function of simple figures, and to awaken in them an
ability to enjoy and understand the figurative and allusive atmosphere
characteristic of literature.

This seems to be the appropriate place to speak of irony, which, while
not, of course, a figure of speech, but rather a way of thinking, does
frequently help to produce the allusive and indirect tone in literature.
It must be the art-playfulness of irony that tempts most people, when
they write for children or talk with them, to adopt some form of this
method of speaking. But this method of communing with little people is
full of dangers; while a pervading and abiding atmosphere of irony is
most unfair to them. Slow children are baffled and stupefied by it;
quick children all too soon catch and adopt the element of insincerity
underlying it. Nevertheless, passages of ironic intent, together with
occasional brief bits in the ironic manner, are educative, quickening
the children artistically and intellectually. A little girl of five
beamed with intellectual delight and artistic triumph when she said to
her mother: "_Now_ I can almost always tell when grown people are
_speaking irons_."

Concerning the whole matter of wit and humor in literature the same
thing may be said that is said of irony. Children are quickened and
stimulated intellectually by frequent calls to understand and appreciate
passages of witty and humorous writing, or by an occasional and short
piece whose whole atmosphere is of this kind. But from the point of view
of their literary training and general appreciation of art, it is better
to awaken in them and maintain a serious appreciation of greatness and
beauty. Besides, the child's out-of-school experience may, in many
communities, be relied upon to give him sufficient contact with the
ironic and humorous forms of art, literary and otherwise.

To sum up, then, may we say that it is safe to conclude that within the
elementary period we will rely for the children's literary experience
upon specimens of the three species--epic, lyric, fiction--introducing,
in the older classes, when the conditions seem to justify it, a few
simple and heroic dramas, and perhaps a few essays, choosing them from
those that exhibit the more direct kind of humor, that are objective in
character, or that serve as an introduction to oratory and eloquence?

We may feel contented if we have succeeded in cultivating an
appreciation of the musical side of speech--among the younger children
an enjoyment of the obvious things of meter and rhyme, reaching in the
older children enjoyment of the rhythm of prose, and many of the more
subtle harmonies of arrangement and tone-color. We may hopefully labor
to impress upon them a sense of structure, an appreciation of
"composition." We may refine and build upon their instinctive love of
story, until we see it taking on within this period the certainty of a
cultivated taste. We may develop in them some power to linger over
epithet and image and figure, thus beginning to build up in them a sense
of craftsmanship, and love of beautiful detail, both of which must enter
into one's appreciation of any art before his judgment is safe and his
appreciation satisfying. And the teacher who knows how may hope to do
all these things joyously and unobtrusively, so that literature may
remain what it should always be--a charming and refined variety of play.



Story is, in general, the narrative of a succession of incidents or
events. It is a large, general form or device, useful, indeed
inevitable, in all subjects. Like language itself, story is a universal
medium, conveying the facts of history, of science, of life. Whenever we
have the steps of any experience arranged according to any of the laws
of subsequence or consequence, we have story; such as the story of the
dandelion seed, the story of the life of Mary Stuart, the story of the
invention of the steam engine, the story of a day in the city. Now, the
narration of the events in mere chronological sequence is _story_. As
soon as they are arranged in the order of cause and effect--or in any
other chosen order; as soon as the narrative leads up to an end or a
signal event; as soon as it shows that there has been for any purpose a
selection and ordered arrangement of the steps or incidents, we have _a
story_. The literary story--the story which is art--differs from other
stories in the fact that in it the principle of selection and
arrangement operates more thoroughly than in the others. A narrative
detailing for technical purposes the steps of an occurrence in nature or
in history must follow closely either the sequence of time or the order
of cause and effect; and such a report cannot choose among the steps or
incidents, but must as a matter of mere fairness, suppress nothing and
heighten nothing. It is otherwise with the literary story. Here the
incidents may be selected at the discretion of the author and arranged
in whatever order may best serve to produce his effect; insignificant
steps may be eliminated, certain steps may be elaborated and brought
into higher light. The will of the artist and his artistic effect
constitute a force which may abrogate the laws of cause and effect, or
of precedence and subsequence in time.

The interest in story is instinctive and universal; the merest string of
incidents will attract and hold attention. Interest and attention
naturally increase and deepen with the greater organization of the
material. It is this principle of organization that gives to literary
stories some of their unique and distinctive values in education. No
method of organization but that of story keeps the younger child's
attention long enough and closely enough to carry him undistracted
through a large whole. He cannot follow, as can his elders, the flow of
emotion which constitutes the thread of continuity in a lyric; he
cannot follow a train of thinking through an essay; but he can follow
the run of a narrative through even a long story. This fact enables us
to put him satisfactorily and pleasantly into the presence of a large
organized bit of material, in which he can discriminate the parts, yet
which he can grasp as a whole; which he can see as an entity beginning
somewhere, proceeding in order, reaching an end.

The temptation to amplify the statement of the influence in the child's
whole mental experience of this fostering and disciplining of his powers
of attention is difficult to resist. But we will leave it with these few
words in order to speak of the specifically artistic and literary
results of this matter of structure in the story. It is a thing hard to
insist upon as a matter of general theory, because written down in cold
black and white it seems to convey the impression that emphasis is
placed upon mere colorless organization; as if one obliged his children
to make an analytical syllabus of their pleasant tale before he regarded
it as taught. But it is no such dull thing. Beauty and economy of
structure lie upon the very surface of the best bits of literature, and
need but the most unobtrusive reinforcement from the teacher to work
their effect of pleasure and discipline. This pleasure is an artistic
product which should expand and develop with the child's reading,
until, when he is a mature student, the formal structure of poem or
story gives him the same aesthetic and moral satisfaction that he gets
from a picture well composed, a monument well balanced. It is not a
fancy or a mere pretty theory that a good story, taught as a structure,
becomes a norm, a model, a clue to the child in the preservation of his
own material, and in the arrangement of it economically and effectively.
His attention is trained, his patience is rewarded, his taste refined,
his judgment exercised and steadied, his imagination guided and
channeled by his contact with a complete, beautiful, and logical
creation, whose elements he can see and handle as he can those of the

From the point of view of the larger structure of the story its elements
are the incidents. This term is employed in this chapter rather
arbitrarily to designate those smallest separable units of progress by
which a story goes forward. It does not necessarily designate a section
of the story which records a happening; the introductory and explanatory
paragraph we call an incident; a paragraph of description is an
incident; the separable sections of the story as it moves are its
incidents. A new incident begins when a certain aspect of the action
closes, when a new day opens, a new person enters, a change of scene
occurs, or even a shift from dialogue to narration; any of these and
many other things may cause or signalize a new incident. Study for
example, Grimm's _Briar-Rose_, which divides naturally and inevitably
into ten separable incidents, and which exhibits a beautiful and
artistic organization.

A teacher should master this aspect of every story he proposes to teach.
He should know it intimately as a series of incidents; for these are the
things he can manipulate as he uses the story--in case he must shorten
it or dramatize it, or otherwise modify it to suit his needs. If he
knows how to handle incidents, he may often by a little editing
eliminate superfluous matter and convert a loose, overburdened, or
merely long story into a usable bit of art.

Practically every story that has the length and dignity to justify its
use for a class, gathers its incidents into movements that correspond to
the three or five acts of a drama. There is something almost
biologically necessary in at least three parts or movements in every
organized narrative--Aristotle's obvious beginning, middle, and end. In
a story it is but natural that we should have (1) a section presenting
the people and their surroundings, the circumstances which call for or
dictate the action; (2) the central event, the essential adventure; (3)
the dénouement, conclusion, reconciliation, adjustment, or what not.
These three movements are beautifully distinct in the _Briar-Rose_. It
helps to impress upon the children the structure of the story if in the
study of it these movements are brought to notice--quietly and
unobtrusively, perhaps indicated by a mere pause in the telling, or on
occasion, more deliberately by some other means. The story should not be
so handled as to make the impression that there are abrupt gaps between
the movements; rather these movements should be treated as essential
parts of a larger composition. In the stories of the dramas the children
may study, and in all such stories as they themselves dramatize, they
will inevitably see that these stages or movements are essential and
vital, dictating the organization of the material into acts.

Within the arrangement of the story as incidents and movements lies a
deeper kind of organization which exhibits many kinds and degrees of
complexity. A story may be a run of incidents that report mere activity.
So deep and eager is the hunger for story, so unfailing is the primitive
epic interest, that almost anybody's attention may be held for a long
while by the recital of the merely juxtaposed incidents that constitute
this story of activity. But there is no art in this; it is mere
story-stuff, not _a story_. Under the manipulation of the literary
artist, the tale-teller, it takes shape, shifts its incidents about,
arranges its stages and emerges a created and organic thing, telling now
of action, not of activity. It may be a long narrative, or it may be a
mere anecdote. But it has a purpose and a plan, and it reaches an end.
This straightforward, single-minded tale does not, however, give
complete and final satisfaction. In the first place, it does not
represent life, which never proceeds far by single, uninterrupted
threads; events are interlinked and complicated, modified and diverted
in many directions. In the second place, it does not satisfy the
instinct of workmanship in the artist. Even the most primitive artist,
the very folk itself, has this instinct of craftsmanship which expresses
itself in the elaboration and enrichment of its product. In story this
instinct displays itself in the more skilful arrangement of the
incidents, looking ever to the heightening and deepening of effect, in
the enrichment of the presentation by weaving together more than one
action into a more and more complex whole. Such increased elaboration,
and more conscious organization either in the arrangement of the
incidents of a single action, or in the interweaving of two or more
actions, gives the story _a plot_.

It is from the use of stories elaborate enough and developed enough to
have a plot that genuine disciplinary value may be expected. The merely
chaotic or haphazard run of incidents may amuse and interest the
children, but it yields nothing of artistic training. Two very simple
specimens (useful for so many purposes) will illustrate the point. Take
the story adumbrated in _The House That Jack Built_. This is a series of
incidents linked together in the accumulative fashion, but proceeding in
a straight line and stopping short off without issue or event. Compare
it with the equally primitive accumulative tale of _The Old Woman Who
Found the Sixpence_, from which invaluable tale one can exemplify all
the main devices of successful plot-making; the incidents are arranged
in a charming pattern, so that the action rises to a summit, descends to
an end, and produces an effect; there is the proper proportion of
involution (save the mark!), of the making of difficulties, stating the
problem, awakening our sympathies; this is followed by the due process
of resolution, unraveling the difficulties, with the final restoration
of the action to the normal level with the purpose of the story
achieved. It is this kind of story that adds to interest and amusement
that additional charm of artistic structure which distinguishes
literature from mere writing.

Now, while it is true that a symmetrical plot constitutes in part the
educational value of a story, it is quite obvious to those who know both
children and stories that intricate and elaborate plots should not be
given to folks in the elementary classes. A story in which the threads
of the plot are many or disparate, or one in which the actions must be
often, or for any long while, kept separate, confuses rather than trains
the young children. Better for them are those stories whose plots are
open and simple, where the actions of the interlinked threads coincide
as much as possible. Certain traditional plot devices are out of place
in a story chosen for these children; suspense and mystification, for
example, those devices so dear in their myriad forms to the cheap and
sensational novelist, and so indispensable to the interest of the
uncultivated reader, are not desirable in the children's class. Their
interest needs no such stimulus; their attention should not be subjected
to the strain, nor their nerves to the shock, of a sustained suspense
with its consequent surprise. Rather, their story should move openly and
directly, depending for its power upon the skilful interrelation of its
interests, yielding the pleasure of recognition and sympathy, so much
more artistic and disciplinary than the pleasure of surprise. For this
reason plots of the type of Shakespeare's great plots, of the type of
Perrault's _Cinderella_, in which the reader is in the confidence of the
author from the beginning, are to be desired for the little people. If
for any reason it seems well to tell to the younger children a long
story built upon suspense and surprise, it is generally well to let them
know very soon the issue of affairs--the ultimate disaster or
reconciliation--so that they may be free from anxiety and able to attend
to the more real matter of the story as it proceeds. This teaching
applies to the younger children; as they grow older, they become able to
get desirable intellectual experience out of a good detective story, or
one with a fairly deep mystification in it, like _Treasure Island_. The
older children, too, may profitably handle a more intricate
plot--_Ivanhoe_ with its four threads of interest and activity, _The
Merchant of Venice_ with the action shifting about from scene to scene
among its various groups.

By handling a plot as a matter of literary study we mean, examining it
from these points of view.

1. What are the difficulties set up?

2. By what devices are the difficulties constituted--conspiracy,
intrigue, disguise, quarrel blood-feud, race-hatred, etc., etc.?

3. How are the difficulties removed?

4. How many threads of interest has the plot?

5. How are they linked together or interwoven?

6. How logical and how fair is the outcome?

Other questions to be considered in studying the plot will arise in the
study of an actual story with an actual class.

Of fundamental interest in the story are the persons or characters, and
it is of prime importance that teachers--be they mothers or
masters--should know how to educate the children in this matter.

From one point of view--that of the activities of the story, in which
the younger children are mainly interested--there are two kinds of
persons: those who do things; those who receive things, or for whose
sake, or merely in whose presence, things are done. The former are the
agents--the pushing, active adventurous persons, who, good or ill, make
things happen; the latter are often mere figures, important and perhaps
beautiful, put into the story to represent institutions or ideas--like
the father of Cinderella, who is merely an institutional father; or they
are devices for getting on with the plot, like the fairy godmother; or
they are the rewards of endeavor, like the King's daughter given in
marriage in many a folk-tale. From another point of view, which regards
the actors in the story, not as persons, but as characters, they may be
divided into two types; those who are fixed, static, from the
beginning--who come into the story fully equipped, and do not change at
all within its limits; those who change or develop under the influence
of others and of their experiences.

In the study of characters more than in any other aspect of story, we
must allow for the growth of the children within the elementary period.
The youngest children are prepared to appreciate the activities of
people, and are interested in the active persons, and by transfer of
sympathy, in the persons for whose sake the deeds are done. Their
typical readiness in reading character does not fail them when the
character has been transferred to literature. They are quick to
discriminate the main lines and the distinguishing traits of
personality. They need only a few facts and signs. The merest nursery
child will be found to have settled views of the general character of
Little Boy Blue and Jack Horner, built upon the slender but significant
data of the rhymes. But the children I have known have not, up to the
sixth grade, followed with much interest or profit any but the
slightest and simplest character progression or modification. They are
satisfied that the wicked should become more and more wicked, to their
final undoing; that the stupid become stupider, to their ultimate
extinction; but any evolution of character other than this cumulative
one, any transformation more subtle than the conversion of Cinderella's
sisters, or more delicate than the degeneration of Struwelpeter, finds
them languid.

From these facts the wise teacher takes his hints and builds his plans.
He will give these younger children very little of what is known in
mature classes as _character-study_--which so easily in these same older
classes, degenerates into gossip and the merely idle or pernicious
attributing of motives. He will help the child, on the whole, to judge
from his deeds whether a man is good or bad, helpful or hindering. But
no deed is all mere activity; back of it lie motives and passions, and
beyond it lie moral and social results. There is a name for Little Boy
Blue's failure in duty, and for Jack Horner's self-approval; and these
qualities have manifestations in forms and circumstances other than
those of these two heroes. To these simple deed-inspiring motives and
passions, and to their effects on the persons themselves, the teacher
must see that the children's attention is directed; so that, as he
builds up stroke by stroke the image of his hero and model, the features
that he gets from literature at least may be supported by his judgment.

Of course, as they advance the children awaken, or should be awakened,
to some of the more delicate discriminations of motive and action--to
the conception of a man who is mixed good and bad; and to a realization
of a character changed under our eyes by some experience or by the
influence of another person; to some estimate of the farther-reaching
consequences of the deeds we witness in our story. And before they have
finally passed out of the elementary grades, we may expect them to be
able to consider the problems and contradictions that lie, for example,
in the character of Shylock; they could see his fundamental
passions--race-hatred, avarice; they could estimate his
motives--personal dislike of the merchant, revenge of his own wrongs and
loneliness; they could try to estimate the effect of his character and
conduct on the fortunes and characters of the whole group, and finally
upon his own fortunes. They might, in the same general and simple way,
follow the spiritual struggles of Brutus: his great underlying
passions--patriotism and love of friend; his immediate motives to save
his country; the effect of his deed; the telling contrasts between him
and Cassius, him and Mark Antony.

The study of character in these broader lines--the fundamental qualities
or passions, the motives that bring about the action, the obvious
results in personal and social ways of these actions--constitutes the
utmost we should try to do in this direction, leaving for a later
period, when the children's social interests are broadened, and when
they have developed from within a deeper sense of moral experience, the
more delicate and difficult matters of the evolution and interplay of

Of equal importance in a story with the run of events or plot, and with
the persons or characters, is this third thing--the outcome or issue. It
is surely wise to follow, for the younger children, the hint given by
their own tastes and by the primitive story-tellers, to the extent of
giving them prevailingly such stories as have a distinct and signal
outcome, leaving the uncertainties and inconclusions of a thoroughgoing
realism for a much later period. It is best, on the whole, that the
children see the issues of their story settled, the actions passing on
to accomplishment--this for the artistic as well as for the moral effect
of the tale. It enables them to regard it as a finished whole, having
unity and completeness; and it throws light on all the events and
persons in the story, to see how things come out in the end.

The outcome or issue can be looked at from one or the other, sometimes
from both, of two points of view; as a dénouement or round-up of the
particular story in hand; or as a solution of a human problem, a
universal situation. The entirely satisfying dénouement of _The Old
Woman Who Found the Sixpence_, the removal of her many difficulties,
goes no farther than getting her home that night; though, of course, a
mature mind of mystic tendencies may see in it a triumph of social
co-operation. It will be enough for the third grade to feel a certain
luxurious physical well-being, arising from the final safe arrival of
the old woman and the pig that night. But in the exquisite little
novella of _Beauty and the Beast_ the outcome of the story is not only a
settlement of the affairs of the persons in whom we are interested, but
it is also a comment on life of universal application--that in a world
where things go as they should, good, gentle, and pretty persons are
rewarded with their hearts' desire, while rude, haughty, and cruel
persons are either punished or left entirely out in the award of good

This sort of ending, conclusive and fortunate, the children and the
primitive story-makers always prefer; any other kind of ending must be
prepared for and defended. The younger children will not accept
tragedies; the older ones accept them with difficulty. Death and failure
are not realizable to them. It may be true, as Wordsworth undoubtedly
meant us to see in his little cottage-girl in "We Are Seven," that this
refusal to believe in death is due to some supernal truth of vision
which we, their elders, seeing only by the light of common day, have

But we all know that tragedy is sometimes the way of life, and often the
way of art, being ineradicably written in the events of many of the
world's great stories. It would be an ethical and artistic folly to
substitute a fortunate ending in these stories--quite as unpardonable in
the tragic folk tale as in _King Lear_ or in one of the Greek tragedies.

It is well to study with the children occasionally a tragic tale, to
give them that sort of artistic experience and to secure the exercise of
the tender sides of sympathy and pity. But because they are not provided
by their experience with reasons for expecting and accepting tragedy
they should be prepared for the calamity and led to justify and accept
it--not as a visitation of justice, for a true tragedy is never of that
kind--but as a beautiful pathos or grief. To this end one would choose
his tragic tale among those which have disaster inwoven from the
beginning, so that the class may not have the shock of surprise and the
feeling of resentment that come of an unexpected and avoidable
catastrophe. Take for example, the folk-tale of _Little Red
Riding-Hood_, a poor story for a class in any form, but poor as a
tragedy because there is nothing in the events to warn them of the
tragic end. To be sure there is the treacherous wolf, but he is stupid
and should by rights be defeated and outwitted; it is simply
preposterous, in the code of childhood, that he should triumph. This
lack of the inevitable and necessary element in the disaster is
doubtless what tempted the folk themselves to divert it by a dénouement,
possibly reminiscent of certain mythical stories--the recovery of the
maiden from the wolf's stomach, which by its improbability and
grotesquerie tempts the skepticism of the class, however young. As an
example of the other sort, consider the old ballad long ago adopted as a
nursery tale--_The Babes in the Wood_, which carries in its very nature
and in every incident the prophecy of tragedy; so that, however grievous
the calamity may be, it does not come upon us with the additional shock
of surprise and the additional injury of unreasonableness. This kind of
story accomplishes the result of discharging the tender emotions
without complicating them too deeply with anger and revenge.

But, on the whole, the stories taught the elementary class should be
those that end conclusively and fortunately. This principle not only
matches and satisfies the child's taste, but it is in entire consonance
with the principles of his procedure in other things--it grows out of
the method of affirmation and inclusion, regarding elimination and
denial as useful in a much later period of his education.

As to the way in which the conclusion is brought to pass, there is to
the child and to the childlike mind, in literature as in life, something
eminently satisfying in poetic justice. Legal justice is cold and formal
to them, except indeed in those frequent cases in which it is a vehicle
of vengeance. Besides, it seems to produce an effect really alien to the
cause; as in the penalties of the sufferers in the _Inferno_, the
inevitableness of the effect is obscured by the many complex stages that
intervene between it and the cause. Logical justice--the natural,
uninterrupted working of the forces and motives to a conclusion, or to
their absorption into a new combination--is both too slow and not
striking enough. Besides, logical justice, working in its impersonal,
undiscriminating way, is too likely to hurt someone in the piece whom
we love, or to spare somebody we hate. In short, your elementary class
demands poetic justice--demands it strong and desires it quick. Now,
poetic justice is, on the whole, the way of art, until we come
practically to the realistic art of our own generation. It tends to
secure completeness and unity. As a matter of fact, in practically every
short and completed story of the kind we choose for children the end is
precipitated and adjusted by the operation of poetic justice.

One would be blind indeed who was unaware of the fact that precisely
here lies one of the dangers of the training in literature. It is this
that tends to give the mind that has had too large a diet of literature,
or to which literature has been unwisely administered, a distorted view
of life, obscuring its vision with sentimentality and unreality. To
guard against these effects we should see to it that the children do not
have an unduly large amount of literature; and we should select those
stories in which the operation of poetic justice is as little misleading
as possible. Poetic justice may be, and usually is, an ideal, an
artistic distribution of rewards and punishments; but it need not be a
haphazard and lawless distribution. There is an artistic flaw in a story
in which the rewards go to a person who has not legitimately awakened
our sympathies; it is not safe to say that the reward should go to him
who has deserved it, for in some of the most acceptable children's
stories sympathy sets aside deserving--_The Musicians of Bremen_, for
example. We are satisfied with the success of the musicians, because,
being innocent and persecuted, they have gained our sympathy, and are
therefore in the line for reward. But the youngest child whom I have
tested on this point disapproves the outcome of the folk-tale of "Lazy
Jack" (Joseph Jacob's _English Fairy Tales_), in which a noodle whose
stupidity has caused a king's daughter, previously dumb, to laugh, and
so to gain her voice, is rewarded by being married to the restored
princess. It is not difficult to avoid those stories in which poetic
justice is perverted justice.

And then, in the long run, when we have studied many stories and fitted
the literary stories in with history and the observation of life, we can
counteract any effect of unreality we may suspect, by placing the
rewards and punishments in their proper places and classes--translating
them, as it were, into terms of experience. The fairy-tale may say in
effect: "Be good and gentle and pretty, and you will marry a prince,"
or, "If you are mean and spiteful, you will be transformed into a toad;"
but it is not so difficult to convert these propositions into terms that
have a reality for the third grade, so that marrying a prince and being
turned into a toad take their places as typical or symbolistic rewards
and punishments.



As a summary and by way of applying the facts, principles, and theories
discussed in the foregoing chapter, let us try to decide what
constitutes a good story to study with a class of children under
thirteen years of age. Not to be aware of the critical pitfalls that
yawn for one who would say what constitutes a good story for any
purpose, would be entirely too naïve; and they beset the path of him who
would choose a fairy-tale quite as thickly as that of the critic of
mature masterpieces. But many of these pitfalls may be avoided if one
narrows his path and walks circumspectly in it. In the present
discussion the path is narrowed by two considerations.

First, we will leave out of the discussion matters of mere personal
taste and instinctive feeling--that region in which impressionism and
amateur criticism flourish, confining it as closely as may be to those
matters that yield to judgment, and that are, as nearly as possible,
matters of fact. There is about every bit of literature a sphere in
which the individual taste is sole arbiter. One man's meat is here
another man's poison. The merest lay reader here makes up his mind: "I
like it," "I like it not;" and there is no appeal from these judgments,
and no way of modifying them short of a complete training in criticism,
or a complete remaking of the reader's experience. It is quite true that
the region in which these differences lie may be greatly reduced by a
knowledge of a few fundamental critical principles, and by a mere
suppression of prejudices and sentimentalities. But in the last analysis
there always remains a margin, a border of this every man's territory.
If the bit of literature be a story, it is likely to be matters of
character-growth, motives of conduct, interplay of personal influence,
social, philosophical, and ethical interpretation and influence, that
lie within this region and are subjects of disagreement and uncertainty.
Here lies, too, that more or less elusive, but very real, thing that
belongs to every bit of literature--what we call "charm." This may be a
matter of structure, of style, even of vocabulary, of persons, of
furniture, of architecture or other mere accessories--of geography, of
the temperament of the reader, a combination of all these or of any
number of them, or of other things too numerous or too elusive to be
named. Every good story has it, or gets it as soon as a sincere and
sympathetic reader learns how to read it. If one should ever find a
story which after repeated readings develops nothing of this most
essential and intangible quality of charm, let him not try to teach it.
Either it is not a good story, or he has no temperament for art.

But, however interesting these matters may be to readers of the gentle
guild, and to the impressionist critic, they do not carry us far upon
our practical educational choice. This must be guided by a study of
those aspects and elements of story which yield to plain observation;
which, however artistic, are yet amenable to judgment, and may therefore
be impersonally and unemotionally discussed--such as the structure of
the story, its use of incident, its movement, its plot, its outcome, the
fitness of the whole for the training and best amusement of the

In the second place, we limit and define our discussion, if another
reminder of this important fact may be allowed, by the determination to
discuss, not the art of literature, not all or any literature, not all
literature for children, but such literature as it may be found
expedient and desirable to give to a class of children.

1. In order to get it into the summary, it having been sufficiently
amplified in a previous chapter, and being indeed, self-evident, we will
say again that a story, good to teach in class should be one whose
material corresponds to the needs and tastes of the children. The
experiences portrayed should be, not necessarily those that they have
had, but such as they can conceive and imaginatively appropriate, or
such as they might safely experience. And since children of this age are
living, or ought to be encouraged to live, active, achieving lives, and
are not, or ought not to be, introspective or too meditative; since they
know little or nothing of intricate social complications or psychic
experience, and we do not desire that they should, we will choose their
literature with these things in mind. We may safely say that there
should be nothing reflected in his story which the inquisitive child may
not probe to the very bottom without coming upon knowledge too mature
for him. This must be reconciled with the fact that one of the valuable
services of literature is to forestall experience and to supplement it.
The reconciliation is not difficult to make when once the teacher has
grasped the principle of fitness and really walks in the light of what
he may easily know about the nature of children.

2. The larger number of their stories should be of things happening, of
achievement, of epic, objective activity. Single children should often
have a quiet, idyllic story to read. The class should occasionally have
such a story or poem to consider and should be carefully guided to the
enjoyment of it. But for the class in the larger amount of its work we
will choose stories of action, as corresponding most nearly to the
experience and interest of the children, as harmonizing most completely
with the character of their other disciplines, as serving best to create
an atmosphere of artistic _rapport_ in any group large enough to compose
a class, while they serve equally well with other stories to effect
those other aspects of literary training which we desire.

However, all persons who choose and write stories for children should
suspect themselves in regard to this matter of activity. When we say
that these stories should contain much activity and should move forward
chiefly by the method of adventure, we do not mean that there should be
unlimited or superfluous activity. The two marks of the sensational
story are too much activity, or merely miscellaneous activity, and
activities unnecessarily and unnaturally heightened and spiced. It is
not difficult to test our stories on either of these points. A good
story has a central action to be accomplished; toward this many minor
activities co-operate; there should be enough of these to accomplish
the result, but there should be economy of invention and skill in
arrangement, so that one does not feel that there has been a waste of
material nor a bid for overstimulated interest. The danger to the
child's culture, artistic, intellectual, and moral, of the ordinary
juveniles lies just here, the heaping-up of sensations, the effort to
provide a thrill for every page, throws the story out of balance,
strains the child's nerves, and helps to produce a depraved taste.

3. To bear the strain of class use the story should present a sound and
beautiful organization. This plea for a good and trustworthy structure
should not be mistaken for a plea for a formal and artificial use of a
story. It is rather an appeal for the use of the logical and rational
side of literature--an urgency that we bring into the training of the
children the plain and fundamental matters of art-form that the story
exhibits, at the same time that we get out of it the intellectual value
it has for the class. If it be a short story, it should go to its climax
by a direct and logical path, and close when its effect is produced. If
it be a longer story, it should have that arrangement of details and
parts that corresponds to the movements of the action, and that serves
to get the material before us in the most effective and economical way.

Stories that are elaborate enough to have a genuine plot are desirable
for all classes except perhaps the very youngest. It is not necessary to
say again, except by way of an item in the summary, that the plot should
be simple and easy to see through, containing very little of the element
of suspense, and only a legitimate amount of the element of surprise.
Some more elaborate plots, with more mystification in them, are
intellectually stimulating to the oldest grades, and create an interest
of curiosity. But all teachers should learn to regard this stimulus as a
mere by-product of literary study, and this curiosity as a merely
adventitious ally.

4. Clearly connected with the matter of good and sufficient structure is
that of economy of incident. A story which displays a profusion of
details may be interesting, and under certain circumstances valuable, to
a child. But for the class that is a better story which uses just those
incidents essential to the production of its effect. Compare our old
friend, Perrault's _Cinderella_, in this matter with Grimm's. It needs
but two nights at the ball--one when the maiden remembers the
godmother's injunction, and one when she forgets it. Grimm's version
gives us three nights, and fills the story with all manner of irrelevant
details, which indicate, indeed, the prodigal wealth of the folk-mind
and the unbounded interest of the folk-audience; but they show no
superintendence of the folk-artist.

Of course, when one is judging a story from this point of view, he must
take into account the effect to be produced before he pronounces as to
the sufficiency or superfluity of the incidents. There must always be
enough to be convincing, to give to the story the atmosphere of
verisimilitude, and to justify and reward our interest in the affairs of
the persons. In Andersen's _The Ugly Duckling_ he needs to produce the
effect of lapse of time, the experience of many vicissitudes, and the
repeated refusals of the world to receive his genius; every incident
then, though it may to some extent reproduce a previous one, is valuable
as contributing to the effect.

5. As a part of the artistic economy of the story, it should have a
close unity--closer than we would demand of a story read to our children
at home, and closer than we should demand for an adult novel. The
threads of the action should be so closely related and interlinked that
they are practically all in action all the time. This is particularly
true for the younger children. It may not be too great a tax upon the
patience and attention of the older children to leave the hero in
imminent danger on his desert island, while we return for several
chapters to the heroine in the crypts of the wicked duke's castle; but
the little ones should not be asked to endure it.

The action should be all rounded up within the one design and stop at
the artistic stopping-place. To appreciate this aspect of unity, read
Grimm's _Briar-Rose_--that wonderful little masterpiece of structure--in
comparison with Perrault's _The Sleeping Beauty in the Wood_, which
trails after it the ugly and inorganic episode of the ogre
mother-in-law. Even in the cycles of stories the separate episodes
should display these qualities of unity.

6. When we choose our standard class-story, we will have in mind other
aspects of the principle of economy, or of due artistic measure. In such
a story there should not be an undue appeal to any one emotion. Too much
horror or disgust will undo the very effect one desires to produce. Such
a story as _The Dog of Flanders_, for example, affords a sort of
emotional spree of pity and pathos through which the steadier members of
a class refuse to go, and which the more emotional members do not need.
Especially should there not be any unnecessary profusion of magic, of
supernatural agencies, of daring and danger. This brings us to the
difficult point of the degree or kind of unlikelihood one may risk in
such a story. When one is reading to the single child, or to a few
children, or if one is a real dramatic genius, this unlikelihood is not
so important a matter, because it is not difficult under either of those
conditions to create an atmosphere of artistic faith in which any story
"goes." But in a big class, with the ordinary teacher it is difficult;
some inquisitive or skeptical minds will call for proof or detailed
statement, and quite destroy the _rapport_ demanded for the perfect
appreciation of the story. In a class I once knew such a skeptic, who
was indeed a mere scientific realist, brought the otherwise enraptured
class violently to earth during the reading of the passage of Odysseus
between the whirlpool and the cliff, by the sardonic suggestion that
Scylla must have had a "rubber-neck." When it can be avoided, do not
tempt your skeptic or your cynic by the kind or degree of unlikelihood
liable to excite his protest.

7. The story should be serious. This does not preclude humorous and
comic stuff. But the funny things should be sincerely funny, as
contra-distinguished from those things that are ostentatiously
childlike, elaborately accommodated to the infant mind, ironical, or
sentimental, and the teacher must so know his story, and so honor it
and his children, that he can render it to them whether it be an
improbable adventure of Odysseus, or the merest horse-play of a
folk-droll, sincerely and cordially.

8. In the earlier typical years of the elementary school, through the
sixth grade (twelve-year-old children) at least, the persons of the
story should be those who do things rather than those who become
something else. They should display the striking, permanent qualities
rather than the elusive, evolving qualities; they should act from simple
and strong motives, not from obscure and complex ones. Only in the
latest years, if at all within the period, should the class be asked to
consider more intricate types, more subjective qualities, and more mixed
motives. No mistake is likely to be made in this matter, if the stories
and plays are well chosen from the point of view of fitness in other
respects. Every teacher who is conscientious and informed, will realize
that these persons in the stories contribute their quota--and a very
large one--to that "copy," that ideal self, that broods over every
child's inner life, inviting him on, giving him courage and hope,
reproof and praise, leading him to whatever he attains of social and
personal morality. And every such teacher can help the children to build
into their ideals the permanent and valuable qualities of these persons
of their story.

9. The story should be ethically sound. On this point one would like to
make discriminating statements. One does not teach literature in order
to teach morals and he cannot ask that his fairy-tale should turn out a
sermon, or that his hero-tale deliberately inculcate this or that
virtue. Indeed, literature may be completely unmoral, and still safely
serve the purposes of amusement and of distinctively literary
training--as witness the nursery rhymes, the _Garden of Verses_, _Alice
in Wonderland_. But if it be immoral, it is also artistically unsound,
and does not yield satisfactory literary results. No teacher is in
danger of teaching a story which depicts the attractions of vice or
glorifies some roguish hero. But let him beware also of those less
obvious immoralities, where the success of a story turns upon some piece
of unjustifiable trickery or disobedience, or irreverence, or some more
serious immorality, which thus has placed upon it the weight of
approval. In the chapbook tale of _Jack and the Bean-Stalk_, to take a
chance example, the hero's successful adventures hinge upon a piece of
folly and disobedience; the kindergartenized version of _The Three
Bears_ excuses an unpardonable breach of manners. The pivotal issue,
the central spring of a story must be ethically strong, so as to bear
the closest inspection and to justify itself in the fierce light of
class discussion.

Of course, one should be cautious here, so as not to seem merely
puritanical or Pecksniffian. Subtlety is the savage virtue; along with
horse-play it is the child's substitute for both wit and humor. The
wiles and devices of Odysseus only endear him the more to his
sympathetic child-followers, as they did to Pallas Athene herself. We
cannot give to the classes the things best for them in other ways, and
exclude all tales in which wiliness or subtlety constitutes the method,
if not the motive. But we can do this: we can see to it that the trick
tends to the securing of final justice, and we can discriminate between
mere deceitful trickiness and that subtlety which is, as in the case of
Odysseus, quickness of wit or steady intellectual dominance. And we must
make many allowances, setting ourselves free in the child's moral world
as it really is to him, by constant imaginative sympathy. According to
the nursery code there is no harm in playing a trick upon a giant; by
very virtue of being a giant, with the advantage of size on his side,
and more than likely stupid besides, he is fair game for any
nimble-witted hero. The children and their heroes use the deliciously
frank and entirely satisfying argument of the fisherman who freed the
monstrous Afreet from the bottle: "This is an Afreet, and I am a man,
and Allah has given me sound reason. Therefore I will now plot his
destruction." The butcher and the hen-wife, hereditary villains of the
folk-tales, are such unpitied victims. The misfortunes of Kluge Else, of
Hans in Luck, and of the countless other noodles, are but the proper
fruit of their folly. Every child will instinctively--and indeed
ultimately--justify the legal quibble by which Portia defeats Shylock,
as but the just visitation upon his cunningly devised cruelty. Let it be
a clear case of the biter bitten, and of the injustice or stupidity of
the original biter, and one need not fear the result--certainly not the
artistic result--upon the sensible child or upon the average class--the
average class being, in the end, always a sensible child.

At the same time one hastens to say that to use a large number of such
stories would place the children in an atmosphere of trickery and petty
scheming which would be most undesirable. I have read with a group of
children where the presence of one incurably slippery member so poisoned
the air that it would have been unwise to study even one story in which
success was achieved by the use of a trick or a bit of subtlety.

Let your stories be ethically sound, even the stratagems and wiles
making for justice, and the right sort of mercy.

10. It is best, on the whole, that the stories given in class have a
satisfying and conclusive ending of the romantic sort. It should, of
course, be the ending for which the events have paved the way, and the
ending which the children, in view of the direction in which their
sympathies have been enlisted, will feel to be just. When a tragic
ending is inevitable, it should, in the case of the younger children, be
provided for and justified. All things considered, it is better,
emotionally and artistically, for these younger children to consider in
class those stories which have a fortunate ending, displaying the
working of poetic justice, leaving for the older groups the tragedies,
and the logical justice of a convinced realism.



Whatever may be our attitude toward the culture-epoch theory of a
child's training and experience, or however much we may vary in our
conscious or unconscious application of it, no observer of children will
have failed to notice that in the three or four years lying about the
seventh, they have their characteristic hour of social and psychic
ripeness for fairy-tales. Upon this point the philosophical deductions
of the technical pedagogues coincide perfectly with the intuitive wisdom
of all the generations of mothers and nurses. The imaginative activity
of the six- or seven-year-old person coming to school out of the
environment of the average modern home is practically on the same level,
and follows the same processes, as that of the folk who produced the
golden core of folk-tales--not primitive savage fragments of legend, not
developed artistic romance, but complete little tales, simple and
sincere, molded into acceptable form by generations of use. The vision
of the world physical and social that these tales present, and their
interpretation of its activities, is that which is normal to the
seven-year-old child, and constitutes therefore the natural basis on
which his literary education begins, and affords his first effective
contact with imaginative art.

But when we have agreed that the fairy-tales constitute precisely the
right artistic material for these children; when we have fixed with
satisfactory definiteness the hour of their ripeness for them; when we
have indicated those elements in the tales that render them serviceable,
we are still at the beginning of our task. For we find ourselves in the
presence of a vast mass of material from which we must choose those
things that are so typical as to accomplish for our children the
characteristic service of folk-tales, and so beautiful as to perform the
added service of good literature. And so wide is the range of
subject-matter and form in the stories constituting the mass that it
becomes evident at a glance that the educational and artistic efficacy
of the fairy-tales depends upon the wisdom used in choosing the actual
specimens. The most useful thing to be done, then, is to determine a set
of trustworthy and practical principles of selection.

We should understand, to begin with, what we mean by fairy-tales. It is
now impossible to limit this term to those stories that deal with the
activities of an order of invented preter-human beings called fairies;
or even to those that contain preternatural or supernatural elements.
With the old fairy-tales in this narrow sense, have been incorporated
folk-tales dealing with matter which involves only natural and human
material--beast-tales and bits of comic adventure, for example. It is
possible to treat them, however, in one category, because of the fact
that in all those that are worth using for the children in class,
whether there be fairies involved or not, the imaginative process is of
the same kind, the vision of the world, its activities and its
possibilities, is on the same level of imaginative combination and
artistic interpretation; and this is the level of the children for whom
we are choosing.

The traditionary stories, the real folk-tales, have been divided into
four classes.

1. Sagas--stories told of heroes, of historical events, of physical
phenomena, of the names or location of places, and intended to be
believed. They are to be differentiated from myth by the fact that they
have never assumed any religious or symbolic signification. They are, as
a matter of fact, hero-tales in the making--of the same stuff in many
cases as the great hero-tales, but having remained in the hands of the
folk, have never received the enrichment and beauty of those hero-tales
which the poets took up. Such folk-sagas are _Whittington and His Cat_
and _Lady Godiva_. Most of these stories have preternatural or
supernatural elements, and even such as have no such elements have still
the atmosphere of wonder, and those fanciful or fantastic
interpretations characteristic of the folk-imagination.

2. _Märchen_, or what we call "nursery tales"--those told for artistic
pleasure, pure imaginative play, the creative exercise of the
art-instinct. They may or may not exhibit the supernatural or
preternatural elements; in some of them animals are among the actors.
These constitute the large mass of popular and nursery tales;
_Cinderella_, _Beauty and the Beast_, _Puss in Boots_, _Briar-Rose_,
_The Musicians of Bremen_ will do for examples.

3. Drolls--comic or domestic tales which may or may not make use of the
impossible, the marvelous, or the preternatural. Generally they are
tales of funny misadventures, cunning horse-play, tricks, the
misfortunes or undeserved good luck of "noodles." Such, chosen from many
examples, are _Kluge Else_, _Lazy Jack_, _Mr. Vinegar_, _Hans in Luck_.

4. Cumulative tales--those in which incident is inter-linked with
incident by some more or less artificial principle of association,
constituting in some cases a mere string of associated happenings, in
others a fairly rounded out story. Such, in its simplest form, are _The
House That Jack Built_ and _Titty-mouse and Tatty-mouse_, _Henny-penny_
and the old swapping ballads.

The modern stories corresponding to these are of three kinds: those
written in imitation of the folk-sagas and _Märchen_; those which
introduce preter-human elements as symbols; those which personify the
phenomena and forces of nature.

It is not mere convention that leads one to choose for the children in
class the traditionary or folk-tales in preference to the modern
fairy-story. Many new so-called fairy-tales are doubtless harmless and
amusing enough, and may serve a purpose in hours of mere recreation. But
they lack those abiding qualities one seeks in a story he gives as
discipline and to a class. Failing to possess the very fundamental
characteristics of the folk-tale, they fail to perform the typical and
desirable service of the folk-tale. First of all, modern fairy-tales are
neither convinced nor convincing; they are imitations, which cannot fail
to miss the soul of the original. There can be no new fairy-tales
written, because there is no longer a possibility of belief in fairies,
and no longer among adults a possibility of looking at the world as the
folk and the child look at it. The substitution of the pert fairies and
dapper elves of literature and the theater for the serious preterhuman
agents of the folk-tale creates at once in the new stories an atmosphere
of dilettantism, of insincerity. Titania and Oberon, flower-fairies,
dew-fairies, gauzy wings and spangled skirts, were not in the mind of
the people who told these tales of the sometimes grim and _schauderhaft_
and always serious beings--fairies, elves, goblins, or what not. Wicked
little brown men disappearing into a green hillock with the human child,
in exchange for whom they have left in the cottage cradle a brown imp of
their own; the godmother with the fairy-gift who brings justice and joy
to the wronged maiden; the slighted wise woman foretelling death and
doom over the cradle of the little princess; the kind and gentle Beast
whom love disenchants and restores to his own noble form--all these were
to those who made them serious art, as they should be to the child. If
one could make the old distinction without dreading to be misunderstood
in these days of opposition to "faculty" criticism, he would say that
the folk-tales exhibit the working of the deep human _imagination_,
using all the powers of the mind, and reorganizing the world; the modern
fairy-tale exhibits the exercise of the _fancy_, disporting itself in a
very small corner of the world of art.

It is, first of all, as one cannot say too often, the imaginative level
of the folk-tales that fits them for the child's use. They are the
creative reconstruction of the world by those who were rich in images
and sense-material, unhampered in the use of it by any system of logic
or body of organized knowledge, simple, sincere and full of faith--as
our own well-born children are at six-seven-eight. It is this
simplicity, sincerity, and earnestness that gives them their
childlikeness--all qualities that one fails to find in the modern
fairy-tale written by a grown person for children. Nothing is so alien
to the consciousness of the child as the consciousness of the grown-up
educated man. It is by nothing short of a miracle that he can keep his
own sophistications out of what he writes for children. His fairy-tale,
failing in simplicity, will betake itself to babbling inanity; failing
in earnestness, it gives itself over to sentimentality; failing in
belief, it is likely to be filled with cynicism and cheap satire under
the guise of playfulness. These faults may be found, all too plentiful,
even in the best work of Hans Christian Andersen, while they poison
practically everything done for children by Kingsley and Hawthorne. The
immense advantage of the traditionary tales is that they were not made
for children. The _Märchen_ of our day was the novel or romance of the
people among whom it had its earlier history. It therefore escapes
entirely the "little dears" appeal and method. The obviously amateur
heat-fairies, snow-fairies, flower-fairies, and all the others which
figure in the merely fanciful and always misleading myth-making of the
belated kindergarten and the holiday book of commerce, serve chiefly to
bewilder the child's judgment, to confuse his imagination, and to
cheapen the supernatural in his art, which should be sparing and
serious, as it should be in all art. Besides, the natural phenomena with
which these fancies are connected are much more beautiful, more
appealing to the imagination, and ultimately more serviceable to art, if
they are rightly presented as plain nature.

There are certain modern symbolistic stories containing elements of the
fantastic and supernatural kind that are good and beautiful enough to
make a genuinely desirable contribution to the child's experience. It is
advisable to reserve these, however, until the children are old enough
and experienced enough to understand them as symbols. Such stories are
Stockton's _The Bee-Man of Orn_, slightly edited; _The Water Babies_,
always expurgated of Kingsley's ponderous fooling; _The Snow Image_,
_The Ugly Duckling_.

It is not only that the world of imaginary beings and marvelous forces
in the folk-tale enchant the child and further his artistic development
in the most natural way; the human world of these tales is a delightful
and wholesome one for him to know. It is a naïve and simple world, where
he may come close to the actual processes of life and see them as
picturesque and interesting. Where else in our modern world can a child
encounter the shoemaker, the tailor, the miller, the hen-wife, the
weaver, the spinner, in their primitive dignity and importance? There
are kings, to be sure, and princes, but except in certain of the stories
that took permanent literary shape in the seventeenth century, they are,
like the kings and princes in the _Odyssey_, plain and democratic
monarchs, on terms of beautiful equality with the noble swineherd and
the charming tailor. King Arthur in the nursery ballad stole a peck of
barley meal to make a bag-pudding, in the homeliest and most democratic
way, and the picture of the queen frying the cold pudding for breakfast
seems only natural to the little democrats of six and seven in our own
day. This world of genuine people and honest occupations is charming and
educative in itself, and constitutes the most effective and convincing
background for the supernatural and the marvelous when that element is

When we have said that it is the folk or traditionary tales that we
should choose, we do not mean that we should consider the whole realm of
folk-lore material, primitive and savage tales--African, Indian,
Igorrote; though, as a matter of fact, every teacher of children should
be something of a scientific student of folk-stories. It increases his
respect and sympathy for the specimens he actually chooses to know where
they stand in the large whole--their history and human value. Besides,
the experienced teacher will often find in the outlying regions of
folk-tales the germ of a story precisely suited to his needs, and he can
have the very real pleasure of endowing it with an acceptable form and
putting it into educational circulation.

But on the whole, the teacher must be very expert, and must have
extraordinary needs, to feel justified in going outside the established
canon of fairy-tales for his material. For there is a canon more or less
fixed, into which have entered those stories that have from long and
perpetual use taken on a more or less acceptable form; stories from
those nations whose culture has blended to produce the modern occidental
tradition. The canon includes Grimm's tales, Perrault's _Mother Goose_
tales, a few of Madame d'Aulnoy's, a few Danish and Norwegian stories,
some from Italian sources and through Italian media, some from the
_Arabian Nights_, some unhesitatingly admitted lately from collections
of English folk-tales made in our own day, two or three chapbook
stories, a few interlopers like _The Three Bears_, _Goody Two Shoes_,
and some of Andersen's--not popular tales at all, but having in them
some mysterious charm that opened the door to them. One cannot attempt
to fix the limits more narrowly, for he has no sooner closed the list
than he realizes that every teacher who has used them, every mother who
has read them to her little people, every boy or girl who loves them,
will have some other tale to insert, some perfect thing not provided for
in this tentative catalogue. Besides, from time to time there does
appear a new claimant with every title to admission, such as some of the
Irish tales told by Seumas McManus or Douglas Hyde, or certain of the
Zuñi folk-tales collected by Cushing. But on the whole, may we not agree
that the list indicated constitutes the authentic accepted canon of
fairy-tales established and approved by the teachers and children of
occidental tradition and rearing?

Still, there are choices to be made among these folk-tales of the
accepted list. No child should be told all of them. Practically all
children do have too many fairy-tales told them, and suffer in this, as
in most of the things supplied them, from the discouraging and confusing
"too much." For a whole year in which the main stories are taken from
the folk-tales, a half-dozen stories will be enough.

It is not among the folk-sagas that one will find the best stories of
this kind for his children. These, indeed, are scarcely to be called
literature. Most of them are tales explaining by a legend some natural
feature, the name of a place or a person, or attaching to some historic
person a stock adventure, wonderful or preternatural. Some of them are,
as has been said, germs of hero-tales that never obtained popular
artistic favor, or they are far-away echoes of hero-tales, or they are
stories of the _pourquoi_ kind--semi-mythical in import, and
consequently lacking the universal appeal and fitness of literature. Any
teacher may find one of the stories of this group adapted to his
purpose, but he will not find most of his folk-material here. In the
cycles of hero tales, _King Arthur_ and _Siegfried_ for example, we can
find many of these minor sagas imbedded in the larger cycle, but still
detachable and often easily adaptable for the younger children.

It is among the _Märchen_ that we find our supply of stories. This is
not the place to discuss the science of nursery-tales, their origin,
genesis, dissemination, or any of the other scholar's aspects, inviting
though all these topics be. One is quite aware that even in the most
social _Märchen_ there may be found detritus of myth; one should be
equally aware that in certain other _Märchen_ he finds the original germ
which finally evolved into a myth-story. But let not the teacher and
lover of folk-tales as art allow himself to become ensnared in myth
interpretations of his tales; that way literary and pedagogic madness
lies. Countless generations ago those which perchance had a mythical
significance lost it and became art, completely humanized in life and

The drolls, when one chooses well among them, are precisely adapted to
add the element of fun that should never be long absent from the
children's literature. There are, of course, numberless comic folk-tales
too coarse and too brutal to be used in our day, except by the
scientific student of culture. The fun of the drolls is, as a matter of
fact, not on a high level--practical jokes, perfectly obvious
_contretemps_, the adventures and achievements of noodles, are their
typical material. But this is the comic level of the average child for
whom we choose them. It is the first step above physical fun, and from
this step we can undertake to start him on his delightful journey up the
ever-refining path of literary comedy. From tricks and horse-play he may
pass rapidly to humor and nonsense. But at six-seven, having had the
_Little Guinea Pig_ and _Simple Simon_ as an undergraduate kinder, he is
ready for _Hans in Luck_ and _Mr. Miacca_. Like the Olympians
themselves, he will roar at Hephaestus' limp, and with the council of
Homeric heroes he will laugh at the physical chastisement of Thersites,
and enjoy the none-too-penetrating trick that Odysseus played upon the
blundering Polyphemus. There is no danger that the children will not
outgrow this stage of comic appreciation--the danger is that they will
outgrow it instead of adding to it all the other stages. There is
something wrong with the artistic culture of the man who cannot at forty
smile at the follies of the Peterkin family, at the same time that he
completely savors the comedy of _The Egoist_.

The accumulative tales have their service to render. Perhaps their
characteristic moment comes a little earlier than even the first year of
school. Before he is six the little citizen of the world will have been
building up his vision of the interdependence and interaction of men
and things. To this vision the accumulative tales bring the
contribution of art. Many of them, being the simplest adjustment of
incident to incident, such as _The Old Woman Who Found the Sixpence_ and
_The Little Red Hen_, are ideal for the nursery and kindergarten child.
Others still, built upon the accumulative principle, but more complex or
more artistic in form, will charm and instruct the first-year
scholars--_Henny-Penny_, for example, and _Hans in Luck_, and _The Three
Billy Goats Gruff_. From the point of view of composition, they may well
be studied by the older children, because they permit the examination of
the separate incidents, and exhibit in most cases the very simplest
principles of structure.

But coming still closer to the choosing of the actual specimens for the
classes, it would be only fatuous to ignore the fact that when we come
to the matter of the final choice, we are upon difficult ground,
educationally and critically. But we can save ourselves from presumption
and dogmatism by discussing a few practical, but general, grounds of
choice, reminding ourselves that in the specific school and with the
specific class many modifying minor principles will arise.

The teacher will be much comforted and steadied if he remember that he
is teaching _literature_, and is therefore freed from any obligation to
the stories as myth, or as scientific folk-lore, as sociology or as
nature-study; let nothing tempt him to the study of the first member of
the company of musicians of Bremen, as "a type of the solid-hoofed
animals," of _Red Riding-Hood_ as a "dawn-myth," or of _The Three Bears_
as "parenthood in the wild."

The teacher will select those tales that have somewhere in their history
acquired an artistic organization, rejecting in favor of them those
which remain chaotic and disorganized. Compare, for example, in this
matter, the perfect little plot of Madame Villeneuve's _Beauty and the
Beast_ with Grimm's _The Golden Bird_--a string of loosely connected,
partly irrelevant incidents. He will prefer those that display economy
of incident--in which each incident helps along the action, or
contributes something essential to the situation. Of course, it is
rather characteristic of the folk-mind, as of the child-mind, to heap up
incidents _à propos de bottes_; but as this is one of the
characteristics to be corrected in the child by his training in
literature, so it is one of the faults which should exclude a fairy-tale
from his curriculum. To make the difference among the stories in this
regard quite clear, compare the neat, orderly, and essential flow of
incident in _The Musicians of Bremen_ with the baffling multiplicity
and confusion displayed by Madame d'Aulnoy's _The Wonderful Sheep_.
Other things being equal, he will prefer for discipline those
fairy-stories which use the fairy and other preternatural elements in
artistic moderation, to those that fill every incident with marvels and
introduce supernatural machinery apparently out of mere exuberance. This
element is much more impressive when used in art with reticence and
economy. Even a little child grows too familiar with marvels when these
crowd one another on every page, and ceases either to shiver or to
thrill. In the fairy-tale, as in art for mature people, the supernatural
should appear only at the ultimate moment, or for the ultimate purpose,
and then in amount and potency only sufficient to accomplish the result.
Perrault was very cautious upon this point; in all his tales he seems to
have reduced the element of the marvelous to the smallest amount and to
have called upon it only at the pivotal points. Compare in his
_Cinderella_ the sufficiency of his single proviso, "Now, this godmother
was a fairy," with the tedious superfluity of irrelevant marvels in
Grimm's version of the same tale. Is this bringing the fascinating
abundance of the Teutonic folk fancy to a disadvantageous comparison
with the neat and orderly, but more common-place, Gallic mind? By no
means. One has many occasions to regret, when he reads Perrault's
version of the wonderful tales he found, that he was a precisian in
style and a courtier in manners; and we may find in the most apparently
artless tales told by Grimm or by Asbjörnsen the most perfect
organization and economy; as, for example in _Briar-Rose_ or in _The
Three Billy Goats Gruff_.

Besides, one hastens to add that every child should hear and should
later on have a chance to read some of the free, wandering, fantastic
things which his teacher cannot feel justified in giving to the class.

One is obliged to take some attitude in mediating the folk-tales to the
modern child, toward the fact that we often find them reflecting a moral
standard quite different from that which the average well-bred child is
brought up by; and this situation is complicated by the fact that the
children are too young to understand dramatically another moral
standard. This aspect of the stories has been pretty well covered by the
general discussion in the previous chapter. But, luckily, it is quite
possible to reject all those folk-tales of questionable morals and
objectionable taste and still have plenty to choose from. Be slow to
reject a folk-tale unless the bit of immorality--a lie, an act of
disloyalty, or irreverence--or the bit of coarseness really forms the
pivot of the story. Only then is the story unsafe or incurable.

One must take an attitude, not only toward the morals of the folk-tale,
but toward its manners as well. There is some violence in many of the
most attractive nursery tales; many of them reflect a rather
rough-and-tumble state of social communion; many exhibit a superfluity
of bloodshed or other grisly physical horrors. We quickly grant that it
is not wise to read enough of these, or to linger long enough over the
forbidding details, to create a deep or an abiding atmosphere of terror.
But it is certainly true that the modern child of six or seven has so
little apperception material for physical horrors that they do not take
any deep hold upon him. Indeed, the safety of modern life, and the
absence of visible violence, have taken the emotional appeal out of many
grim lessons of Spenser's and of Dante's. Murder in the _Märchen_ is to
the modern child actually a bit of fine art--merely a neat and
convincing way of disposing of iniquitous elder brothers and hostile
magicians. The fact that the child's experience and information enable
him to make no image of the physiological sequelae of the cutting-off of
heads, for instance, makes it easy for the teacher to carry him
harmless past details that would seem brutal to his nervous and
squeamish elders. And these details are never the point of emphasis in
any good story. And on the whole, those persons whom the children like
and are likely to incorporate into their "pattern," have manners either
just or gentle even in the folk-tales.

It might be well to introduce among the folk-tales an occasional short
story of contemporary life, recording the activities of persons such as
the children actually know. This is not so important in this stage of
their experience as it will be later; first because the folk-tales do
not seem antiquated nor, if they are wisely selected, unduly fantastic
to them, since they find themselves imaginatively so much at home with
material and the method; and, in the second place, because in every
well-regulated school their fact studies and occupation work are at this
time concrete and charming, and keep them rightly and sufficiently in
touch with the world of actuality.

Of course we must accompany and supplement the folk-tales by verses,
since even at this age we may impress upon the children the music of
speech, and some of the minor literary beauties. They will probably be
delighted to repeat (in many classes many of the children will be
learning them for the first time) the lovely hereditary jingles and
ballads from Mother Goose--"The Crooked Man," "I Saw a Ship a-Sailing,"
"Sing a Song of Sixpence," the rhymes for games and for counting-out.
There are a very few of Stevenson's simple enough for this period; and
there may be a further choice among things found here and there, simple,
objective, and perfectly musical. It is not so much the content and
meaning of poetry that we can hope to impress upon little people under
eight, as the music and motion of the verse. There will be, however,
many members of every class who will be interested in the meaning, the
images, and the persons, if there be persons. We will take all pains,
therefore, to see that these be not unsuitable.

These--folk-tales and simple singing lyrics--with a fable or two told as
anecdotes, and repeated until even the little children begin to see that
there is something more than meets the eye--all graded and modified in
the light of the personnel and experience of the actual class, may
constitute the literature of the first two years of school.



The presupposition that myth is _par excellence_ the literary material
for young children doubtless grew out of a misinterpretation of the
so-called mythopoeic age in the children, and some fundamental
misconception of the nature of myth and its relation to other folk and
traditionary material. There is no place in this little book even to
suggest the problems that surround the nature and genesis of myth. But
it does seem desirable to make in a simple way a few distinctions that
may serve to set us on the right road.

First of all, myth is religion, and not art. It is not a thing of mere
imagination. It is the explanation or interpretation of some physical
fact, some historical occurrence, some social custom, some racial
characteristic, some established ritual or worship. It is the religious
or emotional response to some influence or activity in the world so
impressive or so efficacious as to seem to call for explanation in terms
of supernatural agencies.

This explanatory or interpretative stage or aspect of myth may be first
historically, or it may not be. It is probably first in most myths in a
simple and crude form, which in all developed myths has been enriched
and modified by influences from the other stages and aspects. The second
stage--or shall we call it merely another aspect--is the assigning of
distinct personality and individuality to the agencies assumed to
account for events and appearances. Then follows rapidly the
interrelations and interactions of these persons, the surrounding of
them with friends and subordinates, the building-up of a whole intricate
society of divinities after the model of human society--all at first
symbolistic and of religious significance. A third stage or aspect is
that of the cult, the worship, the establishment of a priesthood
delivering authoritative messages, mediating influences to the people,
and adding constantly to the body of explanations and interpretations
surrounding each divinity. The fourth stage or aspect is that in which
it becomes, or becomes identified with, a body of moral doctrines or
ethical principles; where the personal divinities, with their qualities,
insignia, and associations, are taken as symbols of inner human forces,
of moral and social achievement, as expressions of spiritual influences
operant in human nature and life.

Let it be understood that in naming these stages or aspects there has
been no attempt to place them either in chronological or in logical
order, and no intention of saying that they stand apart from one another
in an easily recognized distinctness. But, however interlinked and
mutually modified they may be, we must in any discussion of myth, be
aware of these four sides or steps.

Take, for example, the Greek myth of Apollo. As an explanation of
physical phenomena he is light or fire, sometimes specialized as the
spirit of the sun. But he is embodied and endowed with a personality; he
has social conditions and subsidiary functions assigned to him. As a
person he is the son of Zeus and Leto, twin brother of Artemis, leader
of the nine Muses, guardian of pastured flocks and herds, as Artemis of
the wild creatures who feed or frolic by night. As his worship spread
and deepened, there gathered about him many other functions--he was the
god of healing, of music, of law, of atonement; and many tributary and
subordinate divinities were associated with him in all these activities.
There gathered into his myth also an enormous and complex body of
stories, romantic and mystical, explanatory and prophetic--stories of
adventure, of contact with the other gods, of sojourns with men, of
pilgrimages to unknown regions; some of them merely romantic, some of
them symbolistic, many of them profoundly significant of his powers and

And the myth of Apollo is remarkable for its ancient and elaborate
worship. Already when the Homeric poems were made, the shrine of Apollo
at Delphos was the scene of an old and complicated ritual. There was
even then a temple rich with the accumulated treasure of the votive
offerings of generations of worshipers. Priests and prophets, the mystic
offices of the Pythia, poets and musicians, stately processions of kings
and warriors seeking oracles, combined to maintain the dignity and
sanctity of this most impressive worship.

From the very earliest times of which we have record of this myth,
Apollo was known to be a spiritual and ethical force at work in man's
soul. He was named when men tried to speak of those experiences which
wrought expiation and purification. He stood for milder law, for
beneficent and benevolent social order, for art, for the songs of the
sacred bard, the dirge of grief, the paean of victory, the games--all
the gentler things of social culture and personal experience.

In these and in many other ways did the myth of Apollo express the human
soul and act upon it. It was a religion--as every developed myth is--to
be handled reverently. We might have chosen other examples quite as
elaborate and as full of mystic significance--the myth of Dionysus, or
the more widespread and deeply devotional myth of Demeter.

Art, too, concerned as it is with everything that promotes or reflects
man's spirit, has uses for the elements of myth, and has its own way of
handling them. On two of the four steps of myth art, especially
literature, finds acceptable material. On the stage named second--the
stage in which the influence or power becomes personified, takes on
relations to other personified influences, and calls into being other
divine persons, his children, his helpers and subordinates, takes his
place in a society of divinities, and exercises his more or less
specialized function in this society, and also in human life and
activity--have the poets and romancers found many opportunities.
Adventures and romantic experiences of all sorts easily attached
themselves to the person of some divinity, especially as the character
of the personal divinities became more and more humanized by the
accretion of such tales. And while we find echoes of myth in _Märchen_
and romance, we quite as constantly find apotheosis of merely human
romance and adventure in myth. Among the literary peoples, poets and
dramatists found it often desirable to use the foundation of this group
of divine personalities as the starting-point for a performance purely
artistic; it gave them the immense advantage of starting without
explanation and preparation, since their audiences could be counted upon
to know the divine personages and circumstances; and the further
advantage of adding dignity and size to their inventions by accrediting
them to superhuman agents. These literary additions, these variations
upon the religious meanings, invented for artistic purposes, often
gradually incorporated themselves into the myth, and by modern students
are not carefully distinguished from the other, the religious and
devotional elements. A comic adventure told of Hermes may not have in it
any more of myth than a similar story told of Autolycus.

Literature finds much use for material of the mythical kind on what we
have called the fourth step. To express and render concrete, impulses,
influences, and powers that sway and dignify human conduct, and that
form and ennoble human character, the literary artist gladly employs the
persons of the great myths. All human experience has elements and
influences coming into it from an apparently mystic sphere, that must
either be described in abstract terms or embodied in concrete persons
and symbols. The latter is ever the method of art. So we find everywhere
in literature the use of the great symbols already constituted in myth,
or the invention of new symbols for the purpose. Homer would convey to
us the sense of the presence that guided and guarded the wise and
resourceful Odysseus; so the stately Athene, ages long the goddess "who
giveth skill in fair works, and noble minds," comes and goes through the
poem. Hauptmann would convey to us in _The Sunken Bell_, some impression
of the magic and the charm of that beauty which lies in the free soul
and wild nature, so he invents Rautendelein. But neither Homer nor
Hauptmann is priest or devotee interpreting facts or conserving worship.
They are artists picturing human life and introducing, each in its
place, the various elements of human experience.

It is in regard to this literary use of myth that there exists much
confusion, and that most mistakes are made as to the educational use of
myth. Many persons who contend that "myths" can be given to children as
literature call the _Iliad_ and the _Odyssey_ "myths;" indeed, they are
likely to call all legendary stories in which the supernatural element
is large "myths;" and they call all romantic stories that have become
attached to any divinity "myths."

We should distinguish myth from saga, from legend, from merely fanciful
symbolistic tales, from tales of human heroes. The Homeric poems make
much of the religious side of human nature, and the poet chose in order
to give to his action and issue a superhuman dignity to set that action
in the presence of the gods themselves. Yea, in the climaxes of the
Titanic struggle the Powers themselves take a hand, so deeply does the
poet feel that everything noblest and most passionate in human nature is
involved; and, despairing, as it were, of conveying to us in merely
human terms the implications of the strife between the two kinds of
ideals, he sets Aphrodite over against Athene, not merely Trojan against
Greek. But the _Iliad_ is, for all that, not myth nor a collection of
myths, but the story of the wrath of Achilles--a very human hero, who
loved his friend. The story of Baldur is myth--explaining and
interpreting, personifying and glorifying, a superhuman influence and
effect beyond the reach of human experience; the story of Siegfried is a
saga, a human experience, under whatever enlarged and idealized
conditions, yet still a type-experience of the human being. The garden
of Eden is myth-interpretation and explanation of many, some the
grimmest, facts of man's nature, and his relation to a supernatural
power; the story of Abraham is a saga--a typical history of human
experience, a typical picture of human culture. The whole artistic
purpose and effect of the hero-tale and the saga are different from
those of myth; the center of interest is a human being; the emphasis is
upon human life; the meaning is upon the surface. In true myth the
purpose is not artistic, but religious; the emphasis is upon superhuman
activities; the meaning is buried beneath symbols--the more beautiful
the myth, the more difficult and complex the symbol.

So one has almost to smile at the statement, commonly made that myth,
implying all myth, is childlike, and should therefore be given to little
children as literature, especially while they themselves are in the
mythopoeic age--presumably from four to seven. There are so many
fallacies in this statement that one pauses embarrassed at his many
opportunities of attack.

First as to the childlikeness of myth. There are, of course, undeveloped
races that have a naïve and childish myth, but it is also so crude and
unbeautiful that it would never commend itself to one seeking artistic
material for children. The developed myths, those that have achieved the
elaboration of beautiful episodes, are most unchildlike. They are far,
far away from the crude guesses of the primitive mind. They have all
been worked over, codified, filled with theological and symbolistic
content by priests and poets. One can be very sure that no sensible
teacher who has mastered the material, would attempt to teach the whole
of any Hebrew or Greek or Scandinavian myth as myth within the
elementary period. If he takes one of the especially romantic or
beautiful episodes out of the myth, he is obliged to thin it out to the
comprehension of the children, and to mutilate it so as to make of it a
mere tale. When one reads Hawthorne's version of Pandora and Prometheus
and realizes the mere babble, the flippant detail, under which he has
covered up the grim Titanic story of the yearnings and strivings of the
human soul for salvation here and hereafter, the very deepest problems
of temptation and sin, of rebellion and expiation, he must see clearly
what is most likely to happen when a complex and mature myth is
converted into a child's tale. To make a real test, leave the alien
Greek myth and try the same process with one that we have built into our
own religious consciousness--the temptation and fall in the Garden of
Eden; a story, which is, by the way, much more naïve in conception and
detail than that of Prometheus. We must conclude that such myths are not
childlike, and that to make such a version of them as will appeal to
the little child's attention and feeling gives but a shallow and
distorted view of them.

There should undoubtedly be a place in education for the study of myth
as religion and as an influence in human culture; should it not be
somewhere well within the adolescent period, when the symbols of the
great myths attract and do not baffle the child, when their religious
content finds a congenial lodging-place and a sympathetic interpretation
in his own experiences? It would seem only fair to reserve the beautiful
and reverential myths of the Greeks, Romans, and Scandinavians for this
period, rather than to use them in the age when there is little more to
appeal to than the tendency, so short-lived and shallow-rooted in the
modern child, to see personal agencies behind appearances. For this,
confused with a degree of grammatical uncertainty of speech, is
practically all that we can find under close analysis, of the mythopoeic
faculty in little children brought up under modern conditions.

There are still those, one discovers, who contend that myth should be
given to children as literature, because later in life--when they come
to read the _Aeneid_ in High School, or _Paradise Lost_ in college, or
_Prometheus Unbound_ or even Macaulay's essays--they will come upon
references to Zeus, to the fall of Troy, to the Titans, to Isis and
Osiris, and they ought to be able to call up from what they had as
literature in the elementary school such information as would enable
them to understand these allusions and fill out these references.
Luckily, the number of people who hold the fundamental theory of
education adumbrated in this view is becoming so rapidly smaller that
this chapter will, let us hope, be too late to reach them. The
multiplication table is a tool; the mechanics of reading and writing are
partially mere tools; but mythology, especially mythology substituted
for literature, can in no sense be regarded or treated as a tool.

Occasionally one meets the statement that myth, and mythical episodes,
are more imaginative than stories of human life, and should therefore be
given to little children as literature. So far as the persons who hold
this view can be pushed to definite terms, they mean either that the
conditions of ordinary human life are completely abrogated in mythical
stories, and that therefore they are more imaginative than stories of
mere human experience could be; or that the details given by the
imagination are arranged in some more unusual way--that there is less of
judgment and order in the arrangement than in stories of men and their

Of course, we realize that the human mind cannot invent ultimate
details independent of experience. It is in the number and arrangement
of these details that originality inheres--that the varying quality or
quantity of imagination lies. Now, it is true that in mythical stories
the images, the details, are likely to be more numerous, and to be
arranged in a less orderly manner than in an art story; this is of the
nature of myth.

Ruskin, in _The Queen of the Air_, makes so clear a statement of this
principle that I shall borrow it for this chapter:

     A myth in its simplest definition is a story with a meaning
     attached to it other than it seems to have at first; and the fact
     that it has such a meaning is generally marked by some of its
     circumstances being extraordinary, or, in the common use of the
     word, unnatural. Thus, if I tell you that Hercules killed a water
     serpent in the lake of Lerna, and if I mean, and you understand,
     nothing more than that fact, the story, whether true or false, is
     not a myth. But if, by telling you this, I mean that Hercules
     purified the stagnation of many streams from deadly miasmata, my
     story, however simple, is a true myth, only, as, if I left it in
     that simplicity, you would probably look for nothing beyond, it
     will be wise in me to surprise your attention by adding some
     singular circumstance; for instance, that the water-snake had
     several heads, which revived as fast as they were killed, and which
     poisoned even the foot that trod upon them as they slept. And in
     proportion to the fulness of intended meaning I shall probably
     multiply and refine upon these improbabilities; or, suppose if,
     instead of desiring only to tell you that Hercules purified a
     marsh, I wished you to understand [that he contended with envy and
     evil ambition], I might tell you that this serpent was formed by
     the goddess whose pride was in the trial of Hercules; that its
     place of abode was by a palm tree; that for every head of it that
     was cut off, ten rose up with renewed life; and that the hero found
     at last he could not kill the creature at all by cutting its heads
     off or crushing them, but only by burning them down; and that the
     midmost of them could not be killed even in that way, but had to be
     buried alive. Only in proportion as I mean more I shall appear more
     absurd in my statement.

Is it fair to conclude that, if there is any ground for the statement
that myth is more imaginative than literature, it is either that it is
extremely symbolistic, constantly substituting one thing for another, or
that, not being art, it heaps up details profusely, unregulated by the
ordering and constructive side of the imagination? In the one case, it
would have small disciplinary value for the class; in the other, it
would be hopelessly beyond their comprehension; and in either case it
would not perform the characteristic service of literature.

There is much more to be said by those who feel that they find in the
mythic stories a large and vague atmosphere, a sort of cosmic stage
where things bulk large and sound simple, a great resounding room where
the children feel unconsciously the movement of large things. But this
is a religious mood. It is precisely the response we should like to have
when we tell our children the Hebrew myth of the creation--an emotional
reaction, vague but deep, to the dim and sublime images of the Days--a
response that constitutes itself forevermore a part of his religious
experience. If we are willing that he should have a similar reaction
upon the story of Zeus and the Titans, if we are willing that he should
lay this down, too, among the foundations of his religious life, by all
means tell it. But we can not quite fairly tell one to awaken a
religious response, and the other an artistic one.

This is all quite consistent with an utter repudiation of a hard and
fast "faculty" education. There are, of course, borders where myth and
literature inextricably intermingle, as there are certain effects of the
teaching of mythical episodes which are not to be distinguished from
those of the teaching of purely literary material. But the teacher
should clear up his mind upon this point; telling a romantic adventure
of a god is not teaching myth; telling a story of a hero in which the
gods take a share is not teaching myth, any more than the telling of the
story of the Holy Grail is teaching Christianity; symbolistic stories
whose setting happens to be Greek or Roman or Scandinavian are not myth.
It should not be difficult to handle for the children such stories as
contain a large amount of religious element. To have them get out of the
_Odyssey_ the characteristic and desirable effect, it is necessary to
give only a few words as to the offices of Athene and Poseidon in the
action, and then put the emphasis where Homer puts it--upon Odysseus,
his character and his experiences. It is no more necessary in reading
the _Odyssey_ to go into the myth of the divinities concerned, than it
would be in teaching _Hamlet_ to make an exhaustive excursus into the
pneumatology of the Ghost.

Now, there are a great many folk-tales that out of convention have taken
on as a sort of afterthought, as it were, an explanatory character. This
can be noticed in the charming Zuñi folk-tales collected by Cushing.
Often the _pourquoi_ idea is appended in the final paragraph, a belated
bit of piety not at all inherent in the tale. Then there are, of course,
a great many fanciful _pourquoi_ tales, both folk and modern, whose
purpose was never more than playful. These cannot be seriously regarded
as myth, and must be estimated on their merits as stories.

It is hard to be so tolerant with the modern imitations of mythical
tales designed to render palatable and pretty facts in the life of the
world about us. One cannot believe much in the dew-fairies and
frost-fairies and flower-angels, speaking plants and conversing worms,
whose mission in life is really a gentle species of university-extension
lectures. Such stories are not literature; neither are they good
technical knowledge. Is it not true, as we shall elsewhere have occasion
to show, that, with our modern facilities for teaching the facts of
nature, we can make them attractive and impressive rather by showing
them as they are, than by attributing to them merely fanciful and often
petty personalities and genii?

Of course, in very advanced scientific theory we are driven again to
myth-making. One cannot speak of radio-activity except in terms of
personality, nor of the final processes of biology without using terms
implying purpose and choice. So does the wheel come full circle and all
our lives we are mythopoeists. But myth is not literature.

As has been intimated previously, it would seem that the time to teach
myth as myth is much later--perhaps within the secondary period, when it
can be examined as religion, or when the children have gained enough
experience, and developed enough dramatic imagination, to take hold of
it as a vital element in another culture. The place for the study of
the great symbolistic stories, whose background happens to be another
people's myth, such as King Midas, or Prometheus, or Apollo with
Admetus, should be, in any event, as late as the seventh grade, by which
time the children are able to look below the surface and begin to
understand the types and symbols of art.



In the days before books, when a tale was a tale, they knew how to
conserve interest and economize material. When a hero had gained some
popular favor, had established his character, had drawn about him a
circle of friends, and had just proved himself worthy of our love, he
was not lightly cast aside for a new and unknown hero. He was given new
conquests, new sorrows were heaped upon him, new minstrels arose to sing
his fame, until there gathered about him and his group of friends many,
many songs and tales. Luckily, in many cases there came a great artist,
bard or romancer, who gathered these scattered songs and tales together,
gave them a greater or less coherence and something of unity, and so
preserved them. Some of these cycles of hero-tales are adapted for the
delight and discipline of the elementary children. From the cosy and
homely atmosphere of the _Märchen_--the mother-and nurse-stories--they
would pass naturally to the wider and bolder world of the epic tales.
The spirit of these tales harmonizes easily with the general tone of
their work. They are simple and bold in spirit, full of action,
generous and noble in plan and idea; they conserve interest and
attention by centering about a single person or a group; they are made
up of separable adventures or incidents, which take shape, or with a
little editing from the teacher may be made to take shape, as manageable
and artistic wholes; it is easy to associate other bits of literature
with them, because, in the first place, the tales themselves reflect
aspects of life and nature that have appealed to artists in all ages,
and because they have themselves inspired many more modern artists. It
is therefore easy to constitute one of these cycles the center of the
work in literature for some long period--in some cases for a whole
year--joining to it such harmonious or contrasted bits of literature as
the class may seem to need.

Some consideration of the best known and most available of the
hero-tales may help in the matter of choosing.

The _Iliad_ is not available without a great deal of editing and
rearranging for such use in class. There are several reasons for this,
the first being its want of an easily grasped unity. Doubtless the
mature and experienced reader finds the essential unity of the _Iliad_
more satisfying and artistic than that which comes of a more compact and
complete plot. But the children cannot easily see that the history of
Achilles' wrath and love is a complete thing. To them the action seems
to be suspended, the events left without issue, the poem unprovided with
a legitimate ending. The organization and the organizing principle are
obscure to children, since Achilles' emotional history cannot easily be
made clear or interesting to them. Homer's splendid art in glorifying
Hector and dignifying the Trojan cause as a means of reinforcing
Achilles' triumph, and deepening the sense of the Greek victory, is
likely to be lost on the children, while it leaves them with a
hopelessly divided sympathy. Helen, to a mature mind so full of interest
ethical and artistic, is beyond the comprehension of the children as
anything more than a lay figure. The vast enrichment of epic detail that
has gathered into the _Iliad_, constituting it for the grown-up lover of
all the arts an inexhaustible mine of archaic, artistic, and psychic
wealth, has, except in a few picturesque details, which the teacher must
make special effort to bring before them, no charm for the children,
seeming to them to cumber and delay the action. So the _Iliad_ as it
stands is not serviceable for the grades in literature.

But, as we all know, the poems that form the _Iliad_ were songs out of a
much larger cycle. If one desires to use sections of the _Iliad_, then,
it is comparatively easy to collect out of all the material a complete
and unified form of the legend of the siege and downfall of Troy--using
the Homeric episodes when it is possible. From sources other than the
_Iliad_ must be gathered the causes of the war, the education of
Achilles, the summons of Odysseus, the sacrifice of Iphegenia, the death
of Achilles, the building of the wooden horse, and the fall of Troy.
Into this can be inserted in their places the parts selected from the
_Iliad_--perhaps the quarrel in the assembly from the second book; the
deeds of Diomedes, from the fifth and sixth; the visit of Hector within
the city and his farewell to Andromache, from the sixth; the Trojan
triumph, in the seventh; the vengeance upon Dolon, in the tenth; the
main incidents of the battle among the ships; the deeds and death of
Patroclus; Achilles' arming and his appearance in the fight; the main
incidents of the funeral of Patroclus; the visit of Priam to Achilles.
These should be arranged in a sort of "say and sing" narrative, the
events previous to the action of the _Iliad_, and those subsequent to
it, to be told in prose narrative; those taken from the _Iliad_ itself
to be read or recited in some poetical form, linked together, of course,
by a running and rapid narrative. Only a verse translation--or, if a
prose translation, one much more picturesque and eloquent than any we
have yet had--will at all represent the nobility of the _Iliad_.
Bryant's translation is the best we now have, and it is too formal and
difficult to be understood by the children to whom one desires to give
the hero-tales.

One can easily see that an arrangement of the _Iliad_ made under all
these conditions would not finally convey to the children many of the
best things we want to give them in their literature.

The case is quite different with the _Odyssey_. It is the child's own
cycle, full of the interests and elements that delight him while they
cultivate him. The adventures are linked together by the central hero,
and by the design of getting him home; the cycle, therefore, presents a
clear unity, and a unity of the kind that takes hold upon the children.
The adventures themselves organize easily into smaller separable wholes.
They are always interesting, offering us the varieties of the grotesque,
the humorous, the sensational, the horrible, the beautiful, the sublime;
and they are practically all on the imaginative level of the children in
the classes to which they are otherwise adapted. The details are
charming and adapted to interest the children, with very little effort
on the part of the teacher. It is quite unnecessary to point out how the
occupations and employments, the beautiful buildings and
objects--plates, cups, clasps--the raft, the palace and garden of
Alcinoous, the loom of Penelope, the lustrous woven robes, the cottage
of the good Eumaeus, the noble swineherd, build up a world full of
charm, not only for the grown-up reader, but for children if they are
being properly taught. There is throughout the poem what Pater called
the atmosphere of refined craftsmanship, and all the occupations and
tasks of men here appear surrounded by the entrancing halo of art.
Odysseus combines in himself all those characteristics that endear a
hero to the child and the childlike mind. He is active and ever-ready;
strong, too, beyond the measure of any ordinary man; quick in the
battle; good at a game, resourceful and handy in any emergency; subtle
and quickwitted; full of tricks and riddles; equipped at every point for
the effective undoing of his foes. Inevitably in any class of modern
children as old as the nine-ten-year grade the delicate problem of
Odysseus' moral character will come up for discussion. It is not likely
that children younger than this will open the matter themselves, or take
any vital interest in the discussion. For, as I have said elsewhere,
subtlety is a child's virtue, and any device by which their hero, who is
in the main just, outwits or removes hostile forces, is acceptable. For
the older children, who are somewhat "instructed," and who on the
average will have acquired sufficient dramatic sympathy to apprehend an
alien standard, a few words as to the Greek notions of truthfulness,
together with a few explanations as to the privileges allowed to an
adventurer hard beset by trickery and stupidity, will generally clear
the ground; these explanations should take the emphasis from this aspect
of Odysseus' character and leave the children free to place it where it
belongs. If the _Odyssey_ were used with children older than ten, their
questions as to Odysseus' truthfulness might afford a good occasion for
warning them to expect some human imperfections in a hero with whom in
most respects they are in complete sympathy. This point of view,
acquired somewhat early, saves one many shocks and misconceptions in
later reading. It should not be necessary to say that the discussion of
Odysseus should not amount to "character-study," and should not drift
anywhere near hair-splitting moral discriminations.

All teachers will agree that it is better to start the _Odyssey_ with
the fifth book--the experience of Odysseus himself--leaving the
_Telemachiad_ unread, or to be read later. Into his few introductory
stories the teacher should fit some account of the iniquities of the
suitors and the fact of the journey of Telemachus--this to pave the way
for the delightful story of his return. For our generation--and, one is
tempted to believe, for several generations to come--Professor Palmer's
prose translation of the _Odyssey_ is the ideal reading version. For the
sake of the slight heightening of style, the class might occasionally
hear recited a passage in Bryant's verse translation. But the poetical,
musical, faintly archaic prose of Professor Palmer has caught perfectly
the gentle spiritual tone of the _Odyssey_.

I have known a class of nine-ten-year children conducted through the
_Odyssey_ making a side interest of the _Realien_, the pottery and
weaving, and metal working. Such hand-work was a part of their school
tasks, and there were collections of pottery and fabrics which they
could be taken to see. The experience seemed to co-operate with their
own hand-work to develop in them some of that artistic love of beautiful
things--things costly, but not expensive--that pervades the _Iliad_ and
the _Odyssey_; and they were distinctly helped on toward that attitude
we desire for every child, that of "reverence for the life of man upon
the earth." The _Odyssey_ will be used, however, in schools where there
is no handwork and no chance of seeing collections of suitable objects.
Pictures are of some service in getting the image of objects--colored
prints of Greek pottery and costume. Engelmann and Anderson's _Atlas of
the Homeric Poems_ seems to help and interest the children, though there
is constant danger that the archaic forms will seem merely ludicrous to
many of them. The teacher may correct this by explaining them as
decoration and as traditional figures. But we should not depend much
upon black-and-white print to help young children to visualize objects
and scenes in which color and motion are all-important.

Now, what follows must be taken as suggestive, and not as a pat formula:
You can enrich your central bit of literature by other literature in one
of two ways--by reinforcing the impression derived from the main story,
or counteracting it And every long story or cycle of stories,
particularly the heroic cycles, has its characteristic atmosphere that
needs both to be reinforced and to be counteracted. It is true, too,
that practically all the stories we use for the elementary children are
translations or derived versions of some sort, and do not therefore
exhibit the smaller beauties of literary form. It is therefore well to
join with them poems or other bits of literature which emphasize the
matter of inevitableness of form.

By way of enlarging and varying the atmosphere of the _Odyssey_, we
should not add other Greek things, because we are not trying to teach
our class about Greek civilization, nor to initiate them into the Greek
spirit, still less to give them instruction in Greek legend and
mythology. We should rather read them ballads and lyrics which harmonize
with the human spirit of the _Odyssey_, or which supply something which
the _Odyssey_ fails to give. For example, since there is so much of the
sea in the story, it would be a good moment to teach the children some
of the fine things in English verse about the water. They will certainly
notice the characteristic Greek dread and terror of the sea--"the
unvintaged, unpastured, homeless brine." It would be well to balance
this in their minds by some of those verses which reflect the English
mastery of the sea and the romance of modern sea-going--some of
Kipling's sea-ballads, for example, or such simple things as Barry
Cornwall's "The sea, the sea, the open sea."

We should not fail to build upon another dominant note in the _Odyssey_
much that we should like the children to have--the note of home and
home-coming, the hearth-stone, and the sheltering roof. Of the exciting
adventure and the joy of physical contest they will get enough from the
stories themselves. It is not necessary to say again that the judgments
given here as to the actual practical choice, are always to be taken as
suggestions, not as hard and fast directions. Every teacher may have,
and should have, his own idea, both as to how his central bit of
literature should be supplemented, and as to whether or not it needs
supplementing. Later I shall give the titles of certain of these minor
things--still by way of suggestion; ballads and lyrics that have been
found to harmonize with the _Odyssey_ either as enforcement or addition.

Most elementary schools have found now the value of the _Robin Hood_
legend. The bluff, open qualities, the effective activities, the
wholesome objectivity of these activities, the breezy atmosphere with
which the stories surround themselves, make them acceptable in many
aspects. Teachers are saved most of the labor of making their own digest
of the Robin Hood material by Howard Pyle's _Robin Hood_. In this he has
drawn together the whole legend, using not only the English ballads, but
Scott and Peacock, and whatever scattered hints and details he could
gather from what must have been a pretty exhaustive reading of English
romantic literature. Everywhere there are charming reminiscences of
Chaucer, of Spenser, of Shakespeare; echoes of ballad and song and
romance; making, on the whole, a notable introduction to literature and
the literary method. One quickly finds that it is much too literary in
places for younger children and has to be simplified; here and there are
long idyllic descriptions that the fifth grade, eager for the story,
will not brook; occasionally a page of false sentimentality that the
teacher with a true ear will infallibly detect and skip. But these minor
things can be forgiven in view of the sheer energy, the marvelous
objectivity, the epic colorlessness, of the book as a whole. Readings
from the ballads themselves should be interspersed, read by the teacher
to the class. These readings should again be arranged in the
_cont-fable_ fashion, turning into suitable form the less interesting
passages, and then reading in their original verse form the dramatic and
picturesque parts. It need not be said that much better poems may be
found than those which Pyle has composed for his _Robin Hood_.

Timid parents and teachers who have never used these stories have some
misgivings as to the effect of the strenuous, not to say lawless,
atmosphere. They say that the burden of approval is placed upon an
outlaw, who constantly and successfully flouts the officers and
processes of the law; that the merry-men are, after all, the gang; that
the multiplicity of quarrels and cracked crowns accustoms the children
to blood and violence; in short, that the legitimate outcome of a
genuine dramatic sympathy with the story is general Hooliganism. The
good teachers who have used the stories never say these things because
they never see these results. It needs but a word to transfer the
emphasis from Robin Hood's outlawry to the cruel and unjust laws against
which he stood; to keep to the front his generosity to his men, his
tenderness toward those in trouble, his sense of personal honor, his
readiness to accept and acknowledge a fair defeat, the loyalty of his
men. It is the transfiguration of the gang; and as a social matter it is
the transfiguration rather than the destruction of the gang which we
desire to accomplish. One hastens to acknowledge, however, that the
rough-and-tumble atmosphere of the stories calls for some antidote,
which we may find partly in the literature we choose to accompany this
cycle. Very naturally one thinks of the greenwood, and at once finds
many bits that fit into the scenic background of the story and introduce
the gentler aspects of the woods and woodland things.

With the _Odyssey_ we should choose some things to reinforce the love of
home and the longing for the hearth-fire, and we must use some of the
same things to provide an element otherwise lacking in the _Robin Hood_,
and to modify the fascination of the wildwood life and the unattached
condition. Some of the ideas on the surface of the stories may be
enlarged and enriched--as loyalty and devotion to a leader. There is a
fine opportunity to launch into the children's experience upon the wave
of their enthusiasm for Robin Hood, other and nobler ideals of the
leader and the hero; though we must never expect the child, glowing with
the satisfaction of deeds done, to give any appreciation worth
considering to the suffering hero or to the heroism of peace. This
properly belongs to a much later period--to what it is not mere jargon
to call the lyric age, when some more effective appeal can be made to
those powers that come of introspection.

The cycles of stories of King Arthur unquestionably contain much that
should contribute to the pleasure and wholesome culture of the
elementary child. Epic activity, bold and generous deeds tempered by
gentleness and reverence--this is the atmosphere of the best of the
Arthur stories, and it is precisely the atmosphere into which one longs
to lead the older children of the elementary school. But these good and
suitable Arthur stories are so tied up with others entirely unsuitable
that the choosing and arranging of them becomes the task of the expert
psychologist and critic. When one chooses stories out of this legend, he
must do with his material--his Malory, his Chrétien, his _Mabinogion_,
his Tennyson--as these collectors and artists did with theirs: regard it
as the stuff of human nature and life, a storehouse of treasures out of
which he may draw according to his pleasure or his need. In this case it
is the safe pleasure and the artistic needs of his children that will
dictate his choice. And he must know thoroughly well his stories and his
children; for the pitfalls are many--quite as many in Chrétien de Troyes
and Malory as in Tennyson.

The first of the pitfalls to be avoided is that fantastic feudal
gallantry which Chrétien and Malory substituted for the forthright
chivalric business and earnestness of the older legendary stories. In
the _Song of Roland_ one fights for reasons of patriotism or religion;
in the Arthur romances, and others of their type, one fights for his
lady's sake. In the elementary grades the children are still
undifferentiated human beings, and should be kept so. To thrust upon
them suggestions of "ladies" to be "won" and to be "served" is to usher
them into an unknown world, an undemocratic and unbrotherly world from
which we should like to keep them, especially the girls, as long as
possible. While it is not easy to leave out this element in choosing
material from these cycles, it is possible to treat it lightly, since
there is in the same material a sufficiency of lions to be hunted,
giants to be overcome, and hostile Paynims to be exterminated.

Everyone who has ever read much with children knows that to normal
children before their thirteenth year the psychology and _modus
operandi_ of love and love-making, innocent or guilty, are so alien as
to pass harmlessly by them as a mere bit of the machinery of a story,
when these notions do constitute such a bit of machinery in a story
otherwise suitable. But it is a mistake to choose matter which obliges
us to linger with the little people over these experiences or to
emphasize them. He who would retell the Arthur stories must be wary
here, so difficult is it to put together any series of the adventures
that will at all represent the material, and constitute a whole, without
using the scarlet thread of guilty passion, or substituting for it
something "nice" but wishy-washy. We have only to compare the grim
justice of Malory's Modred with Tennyson's sentimental and unconvincing
handling of his character and function.

When Malory wove into the Arthur cycle the legend of the Holy Grail, he
introduced an element very hard to handle for children--that religious
mysticism, not to say fanaticism, which Tennyson chose to set as the
pivotal motive of the downfall of the Table Round. Tennyson, writing for
mature modern readers a deeply symbolistic poem, and presenting a whole
cycle, could, stroke by stroke, build up the impression of this burning
zeal, this hypnotic trance of enthusiasm, that led men away after
wandering fires, forgetting labor and duty. But simplified to fit the
comprehension of the wholesome twelve-year-old it is likely to appear a
vague and mistaken piety, producing a practical effect quite out of
proportion to its importance.

To the modern teacher, with the witchery of the Tennysonian music in his
blood, it is all but impossible to keep out of prominence that symbolism
which lay obvious upon the surface, even in the _Morte d'Arthur_, but
which Tennyson heightened into an almost oppressive system of
sophisticated and parochial doctrine. An occasional symbolistic nut to
crack is not a bad thing for the older children of the grades. But would
it not be a mistake to immerse them in a great system of symbolism? To
the younger children the sacred outside appearance, the entrancing
_Schein_, of things is best, and symbolistic art only baffles them or
unduly forces their powers.

The spirit of dilettante adventure which pervades the mediaeval romances
gives them a tone entirely different from that of the epics. In these
latter the activities attach themselves to deeds that have to be done,
to misfortunes that the hero would willingly have avoided. Some of these
sought-out adventures have crept insidiously into Howard Pyle's _Robin
Hood_; but they are entirely foreign to the spirit of the original epos.
The idea of "worshipfully winning worship," of seeking adventure for
mere adventure's sake, or for the mere display of one's own powers, or
for the sake of getting trained, is a corrupting one in our society, and
should not be implanted in our children's consciousness. Like the old
epic heroes, what we have to do we will do--often boldly; but, like the
old epic heroes, we will do it because it needs to be done.

We can get together a series of stories from the Arthur romance that
will touch but lightly the exaggerated, false devotion to ladies; that
will leave out of sight the guilty passion which lies at the center of
Malory's poem and of most of the other literary versions; that will put
into a minor place the mystical religious element that lingers about the
Holy Grail side of the romance; that will make little of the symbolism,
ignore the dilettante and merely amateur adventure, handling the heroic
rather than the romantic deeds--that will do all these things and still
be a romance of King Arthur. He who would make such a version must
choose out from Malory or _The Mabinogion_, material that belongs in
such a series. Or he may find his material more sifted for him in
Lanier's _The Boy's King Arthur_, and _Knightly Legends of Wales_. Let
him make much of Arthur, simple of nature, guileless and strong, looking
to conquest and the good of his people rather than to his own "worship"
or to his own love-affairs; let him by no means neglect Merlin, the most
permanently interesting figure; he is Odysseus among the Greeks, the
sacred bard among the warriors, Tusitala in Samoa, the subtle one,
always so appealing and so satisfying to a child's imagination--the
embodiment of that intellectual dominance which, be it wisdom or magic,
always stands beside epic achievement in the child's estimation. And
having got it together, he may reassure himself, as regards his epos of
King Arthur, that there is no one Arthur; that the whole legend is a
mine out of which every student may draw a treasure; or, to change the
figure, a great, beautiful field in which many people may gather grain
according to their need and their taste.

Much later when, as growing youth, they are waking up to certain mature
social problems, the children will be ready for the style and matter of
Tennyson's _Idylls_. But they will not get the characteristic value of
the legend till, as mature and experienced readers of books and livers
of life, they come back to Malory and Chrétien de Troyes.

Many wise teachers will dissent wholly from this view of the Arthur
stories, and in many schools they are presented in some form in the
fourth or fifth grade, and read in the _Idylls of the King_ in the
seventh and eighth. Suggestions for literature to accompany them will be
found in a later chapter.

Anybody who has read thus far can easily foretell what will be said
about the Siegfried legend. In the huge accumulation of sagas, romances,
and operas that now go to make up the legend, there are all sorts of
material--much of it totally unsuited for children. So far as I have
been able to find, there has not yet been made--certainly not in
English--a collection of the stories good in itself and good for
children. The teacher must do his own sifting and arranging, if it seems
well to study the Siegfried stories within the grades. The collection
of the stories that makes up the _Niebelungen Lied_ is particularly poor
in fitting material, being sordid and coarse in the domestic parts, and
tediously bloody in the heroic parts. Among the mass of stories given by
Morris and Magnussen in the _Völsunga Saga_, and in Morris' _Sigurd the
Volsung_, one may find material for making his own epos of Siegfried,
simple, heroic, triumphant--the Siegfried who killed Fafnir, escaped the
snares of Regin, got the Nibelung treasure, rode through the magic fire
and freed Brunhild. You may be sure some old saga-singer closed the
story here and so may we. This leaves for a much later day in the
child's life the tragic Siegfried, whose domestic experience, with its
sordid motives, its bitter quarrels and ugly subterfuges, is surely not
beautiful or fitting for the children; and whose treacherous taking-off
is followed by a vengeance too grim and too merely fatalistic to be
planted in a child's consciousness.

As we find a sort of canon of fairy-tales, so we find a somewhat
accredited list of hero-tales, and the five we have discussed comprise
it. Occasionally a teacher may enrich his material by an episode from
_The Cid_, from the _Song of Roland_, from the heroic sagas of Iceland,
from some other mediaeval romance; but they will not detain him long,
nor will any one of them constitute a really good center for a prolonged

In the later years of this period certain classes and certain schools
may find it well to read some of the literary stories of adventure, such
as _Ivanhoe_, or _Treasure Island_, or _The Last of the Mohicans_. In
the really great stories of adventure we find many of the things we know
to be good for the children--the "large room," the open atmosphere,
forest, sea, prairie, all the most disastrous chances of war and of
travel, noble deeds and generous character. Every parent and teacher
recognizes the danger which lies in the child's having too much even of
good story of adventure. And this sort of story is the peculiar field of
the cheap story-teller, in whose work the weaknesses and dangers of the
species especially abound. Since the "out-put" of such stories is
enormous, and since the children's access to them, in communities where
they can buy books, or have the use of a public library, is practically
unlimited, all teachers and parents should know the marks of the
undesirable story of adventure, and be able to guard against it. The
weakness and dangers of such a story are these:

1. The details are exaggerated until the event is too striking and too
highly flavored, so as to corrupt the taste and create an appetite that
continues to demand gross satisfaction.

2. There are likely to be too many sensations. The inartistic story of
adventure does not work up its incidents with an accumulation of details
and an effect of the passage of time that gives it verisimilitude, but
rushes forward with a crude and ill-digested happening on every five
pages. It is hard to believe that any artistic impression is made upon
children whose minds are excited and jaded by such books. They are a
mere indulgence.

3. In all but the best adventure the strain of suspense and surprise is
more than the children should be asked to endure. Too many experiences
of long tension and final hair-breadth escape weaken a child's credence
and harden his emotions so as to ruin his power of responding to such
appeals. The devices of suspense and surprise are employed, to be sure,
by the masters, but generally in due amount; while they are invariably
overworked by the cheap writer of adventure.

4. The facts of life and history are distorted and discolored. This is
the condemnation of such books as the Henty books. They profess to
attach themselves to historical events or periods, while as a matter of
fact, they have nothing of the event or the period in them, except a few
names and reflections of the most obvious aspects of the mere surface
facts. As reflection of a period, or as illumination of an event in it,
they are worse than useless--they are absurdly misleading. Only a
genius, or a student who has immersed himself in the matter, can produce
a story whose psychology, sociology, and archaeology will throw real
light upon a bygone age or event. There are such stories, but they are
not for elementary children; or, if they are, only as adventure, not as
history. No one who chooses books for children should be misled by these
cheap manufactured stories which claim as their reason for being that
they have a historical background. After all, it is Scott who has given
us the best big stories of adventure. _Ivanhoe_, _Quentin Durward_,
_Anne of Geierstein_, _Guy Mannering_, with the proper condensations and
adaptations, are of the best. Cooper, in certain of the Leatherstocking
novels, creates the atmosphere of really great adventure. Stevenson knew
the art of writing a "rattling good story," which yet keeps that balance
of judgment and sense of proportion, that faithfulness to the truth (not
the fact) of experience, which prevent its ever degenerating into
sensationalism. Quiller-Couch and Joseph Conrad are two more modern
writers who have achieved in many cases the level of great stories of

It is not probable that children who are given the older epics and
romances in school will have time for these more modern romances of
adventure in the class. But whoever guides their out-of-school reading,
be it parent or teacher, should have in mind these few simple grounds of



In the material we use for children, while it is not profitable to draw
any close distinctions between romantic and realistic stories, we can
not fail to distinguish in general between the hero-tale or the folk
_Märchen_, where we must expect preternatural powers and marvelous
events, and the story which purports to deal with real people, and with
experiences which, however rare, are still possible or probable. And
these stories of real people and actual experiences have their value for
the children--their own value, first of all, as making a distinct
contribution to the child's education, and another value as tending to
counteract and balance the effects of the thoroughgoing romances. No one
questions the fact that there are ill effects from too much romance and
too many marvels. A child's vision of the world does become distorted if
it is too often or too long organized upon a plan dominated by the
wonderful or the fantastic; his sense of fact dulled, if his imagination
is called upon to appreciate and to produce prevailingly the unusual
combinations; his taste vitiated, if he is supplied too abundantly with
those striking and super-emotional incidents which fill the romances.
All these dangers are counteracted in part by the child's fact-studies,
and by his experiences in actual life. But this is not sufficient; it is
artistically due him that the antidote should have the same kind of
charm as the original poison. It is well, too, to bear in mind that even
the small children should be appealed to on several sides, and that
their taste should be made as catholic as possible. One is sorry to find
a child of eight or ten who likes only fairy-tales, or war-stories, or
detective stories; he should like all stories.

But we are more interested, naturally, in the positive services
performed by the stories of real life; or to be more explicit, those
stories told with the effect of actuality, and with the atmosphere of
verisimilitude. Of course, we should require of these stories good form
and good writing, so that we may expect from them on that side what we
expect from any good literature. In addition, we may expect them to
perform for the children and for all of us certain distinctive artistic
services. First, they operate to throw back upon actual life the glow of
art. Those stories which use people and circumstances that we can match
in our own actual surroundings and experiences impress upon us most
vividly the fact, so important for our real culture both in art and in
life, that literature is in a very real sense a presentation of life;
that these charming people and things are but images taken up from the
real world, chosen and raised to this level, by which very process they
are invested with a halo of beauty and distinction. This nimbus of art
casts back upon life some of its own radiance, dignifying and enriching
it, and to many minds revealing for the first time beauty and meaning
which they would otherwise never have seen; so that we truly see and
rightly interpret many of the people and things in our own lives only
after we have seen the mates of them in a story or a poem. A group of
children who had been helped to make a verse about rosy radishes, and
had then done a water-color picture of a plate of the same vegetable,
found for many days new and artistic joy in a grocer's window. The same
children, having learned Lowell's phrase of the dandelion's "dusty
gold," were not satisfied till they had made a beautiful phrase to
render the burnished gold of the butter-cups. The same class on a picnic
labored with ardor to make a beautiful verse about Uneeda biscuits and
ginger-ale, to match the Persian's "A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread."
They were much baffled when they finally concluded that it would not
go--that these modern and specific articles refused to wear a halo.

The obverse and counterpart of this glow caught by the actual world from
art is the vital interest that surrounds a person, or an object, or a
sentiment which we come upon in a poem or a story, and which we
recognize as corresponding to something in our own experience--a
recognition all the more satisfying if the correspondence be that of
actual identity. Every teacher of younger children recalls at once the
tingling interest they feel in practically every story they are told, as
some incident or detail parallels or suggests something they have
known--"My father has seen a bear;" "Once I found an eagle's feather;"
"There are daffodils in my grandmother's garden." A little girl of ten
had been given a very simple arrangement of a melody from Beethoven's
_Fifth Symphony_ to play on the piano. Soon after she had learned it,
she was taken to hear the symphony. When her melody came dropping in
from the flutes and violins--birds and brooks and whispering leaves--she
threw up at her friend a flash of radiant surprise and delight. Her
whole soul stirred to see here--in this stately place, with the great
orchestra, in the noble assemblage of glorious concords--her friend,
her little song. For days she played it over many times every day, with
the greatest tenderness of expression.

The wise teacher sees in this eager recognition and identification one
of the most desirable results of literary experience, and utilizes it as
the most precious of educational opportunities, since this mood of
delighted recognition is with the younger children also the mood of
creation, and with the older children the most useful and practical clue
to the finding of their own literary material.

It is in this kind of story--those that reflect the events of actual
life and are concerned with ordinary people--that we are able to
introduce our children in art to their contemporaries and coevals. It
means much for a child's consciousness that he should develop a quick
and dramatic sympathy with lives other than his own, and yet like his
own--with the experiences and characters of other children, other folks'
ways of living. This sympathy is among the literary products, since it
is best developed and fostered by literature; this because it is
literature only, that handles its material in that concrete and
emotional way which produces the impression of actual reality and serves
as a substitute for it. Teach the little children Stevenson's

     Little Indian, Sioux or Crow,
     Little frosty Eskimo,
     Little Turk or Japanese,

and teach it with the natural implications that will occur to any
teacher of expedients, and you will have taught them a certain attitude
of confidential understanding toward their brown brothers (in spite of
the decidedly chauvinistic character of this masterpiece) that they
would not have got out of a year of social history.

The difficulties of choosing stories of modern child-life for teaching
in school are serious. They are most likely to be thin in material,
flimsy in structure, trivial in style, sentimental in atmosphere, so
that they fall to pieces under the test of study in a class of acute and
questioning children. It is best not to choose any long book of this
sort. For the younger children use the shorter bits of story, such as
may be found in Laura Richards' _Five Minute Stories_, or such as any
teacher may collect for herself from many sources; occasionally one may
find a perfect specimen in one of the children's periodicals, and there
is now a wealth of such things in verse. We must be wary of those books
about children, interpretative of children, of which our own day has
produced so many charming specimens, whose appeal is entirely to
adults. Such are Pater's _The Child in the House_, and Kenneth Graham's
_The Golden Age_. Part of _A Child's Garden of Verses_ is of this kind.
Of this sort, too, is the pretty little _Emmy Lou_, an interpretation of
a child's consciousness, not a children's story.

The general question of the reading of juveniles will be left for a
chapter of miscellanies farther on. It is not possible to make any long
book about children the center of a class's work. Such material is best
used as a sort of reserve, a recreation from time to time, and is best
given in short stories that can be read at intervals; or if it be a long
story, one that can be distributed among the other reading. It is true
of this kind of story too, that the best results come of using material
not made especially for children, but which appeals to children,
however, because it appeals to universal and elemental human nature.

Among the folk-tales are many of the realistic type that are most
serviceable. Like the folk fairy-tales they have that mysteriously but
truly universal appeal, which makes them childlike, though originally
they were not made for children. They are those comic and realistic
tales which may originally have been coarse, but which have been refined
by years and winnowed by use until they have taken on a form and value
like those of some piece of ancient peasant hand-work--they are simple,
genuine, homely art. Such are _Kluge Else_, _Hans in Luck_, _Great Claus
and Little Claus_, _The Three Sillies_ and all the delightful company of
noodles, and the great family of plain folks with their homely affairs.

Of course, the great classic of the realistic method suited for children
is _Robinson Crusoe_. From the days of Rousseau who designated it as the
one book to be given to his ideally educated child, teachers have
appreciated its value. Indeed, a very curious, but not unnatural, thing
has happened, in the fact that this book has been so long and closely
associated with children that it has come to be considered a sort of
nursery classic, a wonder-tale composed for infants, by hosts of people
who have no idea that it is in reality a masterly realistic novel and a
profoundly philosophical culture-document--an epoch-making piece of art.
Fortunately, it is easy to prepare it for the children; it is largely a
matter of leaving out the reflective passages, and of translating into
modern English the very few phrases and turns of expression now
obsolete. One would deplore the reduction of the story for any purpose
to mere babble--to words of one syllable, or any other form that
destroys the flavor of Defoe's convincing style. It is easy to arrange
the experiences so that the story serves the purposes of a cycle--a
single experience constituting a portion which may be treated as a
complete thing; for example, the making of the baskets, the construction
of the pots, the saving of the seed.

_Robinson Crusoe_ is a treasure to many a grade teacher, because it
really "correlates" beautifully with work that the children are doing,
or might well be doing, in the third and fourth grades; whether in their
history study, where they are devising food and shelter, or have
advanced to the study of trades and crafts; or, under an entirely
different scheme, have started on the study of voyagers and colonists.
The art and the charm of _Robinson Crusoe_, and the secret of its
literary value for the child, lie in the power of the sheer realism--a
realism not so much of material as of method--to hold and convince us. A
part of this realism is the richness and homeliness of detail; the
painstaking record of failures and tentative achievements; the calm,
judicial view of experiments; the colorless flow of long periods of
time; the homely, and as it were domestic, worth of Crusoe's successes.
Oh, it is a great and convincing book! How great and how convincing one
may realize when he reads the only one of the innumerable "Robinsons,"
taking their inspiration from Defoe's book, that really survives--the
_Swiss Family Robinson_, with its facile and too often fatuous ease of
accomplishment, its total lack of reality, its stupid and blundering
didacticism, its impossible jumble of detail, its commonplace romance;
yet, we must reluctantly add, its unfailing charm for the children. That
a book with all these faults keeps its hold upon the successive
generations of children is testimony to the fact that its basis of
interest, which is also for children the essential interest of _Robinson
Crusoe_--the old foundation process of getting fire and roof and coat
and bread--is the romance that is forever fresh and thrilling.

The exceedingly thoroughgoing realism of the method (notice, not the
large frame-work, which is sufficiently romantic) of _Robinson Crusoe_
would suggest at once that it might profitably be accompanied by some
bits of literature that would throw a more romantic and idealistic
coloring upon the primitive craftsman and his craft, and upon the
experiences of voyager and colonist. Such would be Bret Harte's
_Columbus_, Mrs. Hemans' _The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers_, Marvell's
_Bermudas_ (with a few difficult lines omitted). Longfellow's _Jasper
Becerra_, the twenty-third Psalm, and several chapters from _Treasure
Island_. Every teacher could add other titles.

The older children--those of the seventh and eighth grades--may
profitably read in school, for the sake of the intellectual experience,
a classic detective story or a story whose plot and evolution present an
almost purely intellectual problem. It is true that the air of
intellectual acumen that pervades most of these stories is specious, and
that they are in reality, and as a rule, shallow and unlogical pieces of
reasoning. But it takes an older and more expert person to see this for
himself. The teacher should try to qualify his children for judging a
good story of this kind, and save them, if possible, from the
detective-story habit, which wastes much good time and fills a child's
mind with very cheap problems. But if he choose a good story of this
kind for reading with his class, he may help to set their minds going in
that region where the imagination must ally itself with logic and with a
reasoned and inevitable progress of events. Properly channeled, this is
a most valuable experience, both from the purely mental and from the
literary points of view. After all, the best detective story in English
is Poe's _The Gold Bug_. There is, of course, that element in _Treasure
Island_, but, being there so interwoven with the romantic and
adventurous details of that delectable tale, it is not likely to yield
for the children that peculiar bit of training which they might get
from the more unmixed intellectuality and more obvious realism of _The
Gold Bug_.

It is difficult to know what to say, and where to say it, concerning
_Don Quixote_. That triumphant book is assuredly a masterpiece of the
realistic method. It came as an antidote and tonic, helping to restore
health and sanity to a romance-sick world, and it ought to have a place
in the discipline of certain kinds of young people. But it cannot be
said that this place is always within the elementary period, unless a
certain grade or certain children have had a peculiar experience and can
be said to need it. If the grade has had the King Arthur stories of
Malory or Tennyson in large amounts with a very earnest teacher, they
can very certainly be said to need _Don Quixote_--always, of course,
shortened and expurgated, and in carefully chosen episodes; from which
process--such is its essential greatness, and such the character of its
unity--it suffers less than any other story in the world. We should be
quite aware of the danger of giving the children any large amount of
this peculiar kind of realism--that which constitutes itself a satire
and a sort of parody on some over-serious bit of romance. Nothing is
more deadening and more commonplace than this peculiar form of wit,
when it becomes a habit or offers itself in a mass. But the peculiar
vitality and richness of _Don Quixote_ lifts it far above the level of
parody, constituting it a magnificent original piece of art in itself.
However, the whole question must be left open. It may be that not until
he is far along in the secondary school or in college is the scholar
suffering for _Don Quixote_, or capable of appreciating it.

Among the older children the note of realism and wit may be sounded in a
wisely chosen essay. Of course, they are not ready for the indirect and
allusive manner, nor for the lyric egoism, of the pure literary essay.
But there are essays of Lamb's, a very few of Steele's, some of Sidney
Smith's, some of the more literary of Burroughs' nature-studies, bits of
Oliver Wendell Holmes and Charles Dudley Warner, that are ideal for

Shall we sum up by saying that, on the whole, we find the romantic and
fanciful stories best suited in form and spirit to the elementary
children; since realistic stories that are really good art, are, as a
rule, too mature and too difficult for the children, and realistic
stories of the juvenile type are not good enough either in form or in
content to justify long class study? However, certain distinctive and
desirable results may be expected from specimens interwoven here and
there of that kind of story which represents real life, which uses
events both possible and probable, and which handles its material by the
method of realistic detail. In the earliest years these may be secured
by the reading of well-chosen little stories of modern children--indeed,
of any modern material, provided it be simple enough--and by the
teaching of verses which reflect aspects of actual life--human life or
nature. In the third or fourth grade _Robinson Crusoe_ forms a desirable
basis for the year's work. It should always be accompanied by shorter
bits of a more romantic and heroic type. Later in the elementary
period--say in the sixth or seventh grade--the reasonable and practical
element may be introduced in the form of a story of the detective
kind--a story whose plot presents an intellectual problem, whose
atmosphere and method make the impression of actual fact. And in the
seventh and eighth grade these same purposes--that of exhibiting to the
children actual human life as art sees it, that of bringing them into
educational contact with the realistic method, that of counteracting any
possible mental danger from too much romance and adventure--may be
served by essays chosen on principles already many times suggested.



In a discussion of these stories we should again take to ourselves the
warning that we must guard constantly and carefully against too narrow a
view of literature. The reckless lack of knowledge and experience that
sweeps into the category of literature everything expressed in words is
so irritating to a careful student that he is always in danger of
allowing his irritation to help carry him to the other extreme--that of
an uncatholic exclusiveness. We must, however, be aware of the fact that
other kinds of writing, entirely technical and special in their simpler
varieties, are constantly approaching the borders of literature, as they
become more and more humanized, draw about them more and more of
emotional association, and take on more of the graces of the arts of
writing. We must be aware of this, and we must be, as it were,
constantly on the lookout for a possible new arrival among the kinds of
literature, and be prepared to give it hospitality; and we must
acknowledge that some of the results which we desire to accomplish
through genuine literature are accomplished through those things that
have only some of the characteristics of literature. But still, for the
sake of the good pedagogical and critical conscience, and for the sake
of keeping the fundamental distinctions as clear as possible, the
teacher needs to know precisely what he is doing when he is using this
material. He must decide, in the very earliest years of a child's
education, whether he is teaching facts and theories, or presenting art,
in his story.

The custom of using animals and plants to represent human beings and to
express human meanings is as old as folk-art itself. Quite as old, too,
is the revelation that the creatures have individualities and
personalities of their own to be dramatically and sympathetically set
forth in terms of human psychology, in default of a truer one. The mind
of man goeth not back to the time when the fox, the cock, and the
ass--Reynard, Chanticleer, and Brunel--the rabbit, the eagle, the oak,
and the vine, were not well-defined characters, well provided with
affairs. But this early folk treatment of the creatures was distinctly
art, occasionally morals, but not science. It did not aim to teach the
facts as to the structure and habits of the creatures as life-forms. It
interpreted human life through them or them by means of human terms.

Precisely here we must begin our discrimination between real literature
and "nature-stories." The longing to pass down to the infant mind the
results of scientific discovery has produced in our generation (perhaps
it was really produced in the generation preceding ours) an enormous
crop of most anomalous growths in this field of nature-stories. A
favorite method of teaching a child the facts about any object or
process in nature has been to translate it into a story of human
affairs, or draw it up as a picture of a human situation, involving
naturally and inevitably, a multitude of extraneous or misleading
details. For example, we would teach a child about the distribution of
the dandelion plant. So we construct the "Story of the Dandelion Seed."
Now, there undoubtedly is a _story_ of the dandelion seed. Incident
follows incident, stage follows stage, from bloom to bloom again--every
step beautiful and interesting in itself, and to be completely trusted
to make its own appeal, just displayed for itself. But some people doubt
this. They have lost, or have never acquired, that faith in nature and
her processes which trusts to this appeal; and then they long--and this
is quite natural--to enlist in aid of their fact-studies the charm and
the emotion that lies in literature. So they endow the Dandelion Seed
with a papa and a mama--a jovial suburbanite of a papa, and a fussy,
sentimentalizing mama--with a cradle, with a vocabulary, with a system
of morals (there are even "naughty" Dandelion Seeds), and with many
feelings. They tell about his "home," his infancy, his training, his
departure, his settling in a new home--all the while with the intention
of teaching their infants the facts, but all the while covering them up
under a trivial and unnecessary myth. In the end the product is scorned
by science for its overlay of misleading detail, and rejected by art for
the obnoxious intrusion of work-a-day and professional fact. Now, let
who will believe that such stories and verses are a legitimate way of
conveying or of illuminating scientific fact; but let him not suppose
that they are literature. The case is different when the teacher of fact
happens to find in art, in real literature, some picture or detail with
which to emotionalize and beautify his fact. It does sometimes happen
that the poem, the folk-tale, the fable, has set in some charming human
light certain aspects of the object which the children are studying.
They are entitled to these to help them to see their object or event in
the round.

It is true, of course, that no piece of literature that handles for its
purposes natural objects can afford to be flagrantly inaccurate. We all
know how neatly John Burroughs punctured Longfellow's bit of pathos,
"There are no birds in last year's nests," by proving that many species
of birds devote themselves to securing and occupying last year's nests.
But in the main it is truth rather than fact that literature gives
us--truth, or fact colored and interpreted by personal association and
emotion; we must not ask colorless fact of her, and it is the most
unprofitable quibbling to demand of her scientific exactness, which is
always prosaic. On the other hand, there is no place in nature-study for
the imagination of invention, nor for any of those striking and dramatic
effects arranged and calculated, secured by manipulation and choice of
material--effects which are the very native method of literature.

But writing about animals and objects in nature may become literature
when, losing sight of the need of teaching fact, of giving professional
instruction, it presents them as personalities, when it humanizes them,
either by attributing to them human qualities and feelings, or by
surrounding them with an atmosphere of human emotion and experience; it
may become good literature when it does these things well; the chances
are all against its becoming great literature at all.

If the nature-story making use of literary devices, but designed to
teach scientific fact, is anomalous, the case is no better, artistically
or educationally, when the story of an animal is made the propaganda of
the Humane Society, or of the anti-vivisectionists, or of any other
believers, no matter how just and important may be their belief or
doctrine. I have known a child whose outlook was prejudiced, and whose
mental repose most seriously disturbed, by an over-earnest and
over-colored story of the sufferings of a deserving and phenomenally
sensitive cab-horse; and this morbid sense of suffering was the result
of reading a book whose style was commonplace, whose structure was
chaotic, whose sentiment was melodramatic, and whose psychology was
guesswork--which did not yield, in a word, a single one of the desirable
fruits of literature. We must devise some way to preserve and to deepen
in our little people that humorous, loving sympathy with our furry and
hairy brothers, more wholesome and natural than stories of suicidal
ponies, revolutionary stallions, persecuted partridges, and heart-broken
mastiffs. Better than any library of books about them is the friendship
of one dog or horse, or the care of any, the humblest, pet. And at least
we may remind ourselves that we do not have to accomplish the awakening
of that or any other sympathy at the cost of teaching as literature
stories undesirable and inartistic.

The oldest of beast-tales available for occidental children is the story
of Reynard the Fox. We all know how there grew up about the original
core of the story a vast accretion of material, which became ever more
and more satirical and abstract, until finally the original folk-cycle
was buried under it. Of course, in the later forms the tales are most
unchildlike. But it is not so difficult to extract from the cycle the
original simpler one--or at least to get together a cycle which has the
simplicity, the sincerity, and the objectivity of genuine folk-art. The
children love the tales, and get so much out of them that it is a pity
for any child to miss them completely; though I should never advise that
many of the tales be read to them continuously. To do this would be to
immerse them in an atmosphere of trickery. It is better to keep the
story lying by, and to read them an episode now and then in the
intervals of something more serious. Many people will question the moral
effect of stories in which the rascal uniformly triumphs, as in
_Reynard_. But I have observed, among the children with whom I have read
it, that they are never in sympathy with Reynard, and are never pleased
with his triumphs. This is in striking, and in some respects puzzling,
contrast with the fact that the triumphs and successes of Bre'r Rabbit
in _Uncle Remus_ always delight the children. The tales that Joel
Chandler Harris has assembled in this collection constitute a most
charming and usable beast-epic. The universal sympathy with this hero
may be encouraged and enjoyed without misgiving, because Bre'r Rabbit
succeeds by subtlety, where Reynard succeeds by knavery. Bre'r Rabbit's
triumphs are those of sheer intellect, as truly as are those of
Odysseus, while Reynard's are those of low and cruel cunning. It is
impossible to exaggerate the access of charm and interest that invest
the _Uncle Remus_ stories because of Uncle Remus himself. He is the
genuine folk story-teller, full of faith and sincerity, yet steeped in
humor, and gifted with the sense of essential reality; add to this that
he is a gentle soul, a devoted lover of childhood, with a never-failing
sense of the reverence due the child. While to those who know the negro
dialect the stories lose much by translation, still they are good enough
to bear even this test, and such translation is necessary for some
groups of children. Like the Reynard tales, those of Bre'r Rabbit are
best inserted here and there throughout the year and not read in a mass.

The fables--all those oriental and classic ones that are called
Aesop's, as well as many of La Fontaine's--are, from the literary point
of view the best of the animal stories. Leave quite out of view their
moralistic and figurative meanings, and most of them are sympathetic and
dramatic presentations of the animals themselves, with those wider human
implications that make an anecdote about an animal literature rather
than science. The family or the schoolroom that can possess a copy of
Boutet de Monvel's _La Fontaine_ has in the pictures the most charming
and penetrating criticism and interpretation of the fables themselves,
of the animals who appear in them, and of the motives and experiences
that lie behind them.

Scattered throughout the folk-tales and among the fairy-stories that we
know best are some fascinating animal stories. The folk-mind is always
impressed in an imaginative way with the relation between man and the
animals--not always a loving or sympathetic relation. They feel, what
the modern writing humanitarian seems to have determined to ignore, that
deep, psychic, inscrutable animosity, be it instinct or race-memory or
whatever it may be, that has always existed between man and the beasts;
though there are among practically all the folk whose tales we have
collected, stories of "grateful beasts," of friendly and serviceable
animals. Then there are such classics as _The Little Red Hen_,
_Henny-Penny_, _The Three Billy-Goats_, and _The Musicians of Bremen_,
whose perfection of art as stories and as presentations of life is
beyond criticism.

The native stories of many of the North American Indian tribes have a
charming way of presenting the animals. Unfortunately, most of our
Indian folk-lore was collected and reduced to literary form in what one
may call the _blaue Blume_ period of folk-lore collecting, and is
spoiled everywhere by the oversentimental strain of the period. We could
well spare an occasional account of what one might infer to be a common
habit of love-lorn Indian maidens--that of casting themselves headlong
from inaccessible cliffs at sunset,--to make room for some of the
humorous and fanciful tales of the animals that the Indians knew so well
and to which they lived so near. The Zuñi folk-tales collected by Frank
Cushing have much of this element in them, and it constitutes one of
their many charms.

East Indian folk-lore is peculiarly rich in tales of animals--fables,
bits of beast-wisdom and beast-adventure. It may be that this fact
co-operated with his own gift to make Rudyard Kipling the greatest of
all modern makers of animal-stories. The _Jungle Books_ stand unique
and imperishable as one of the perfect art-products of the nineteenth
century. Like everything else that is true art, these stories never
become stale. This gives them a peculiar value. For the children who
have had them at home are always willing to hear them again with the
class. We can read them _to_ the third grade for the story, and _with_
the sixth grade for the style, and the eighth grade is not above hearing
_Toomai of the Elephants_ at any time. The teacher himself will find
unfailing satisfaction in them because, in addition to all their charms
as interpretations of the beasts and presentation of human nature, they
show all the marks of expert workmanship. This appears in the masterly
structure of the story, the organization of the material, the economy of
incident, the successful style which combines in a most unusual way, a
reserve and finish that would become a literary essayist, with a power
of vivid and striking phrase that characterizes the most successful
journalist. So that teacher and children are both interested and
disciplined by every reading of the _Jungle Books_.

Among all their verse literature, from the Mother Goose melodies to
Wordsworth in the eighth grade, the children will find poems about
animals. A catalogue of the nursery and fairy-book animals is a very
instructive document--indeed, a catalogue of poetical beasts in general,
is very illuminating. All the verses about animals that have come down
to us in the traditionary jingles are good as art and on the whole, fair
to the animals. "Baa, Black Sheep," "The Mouse Ran Up the Clock,"
"Johnny Shuter's Mare," and all the others, yield the fruits of
literature, but only after much torturing, the fruits of science.
Gradually to these we add such as Cowper's tame but touching pictures of
his pets; Wordsworth's tender and far-seeing poems about the shepherds
and their flocks, the doe and the hart, the pet lamb, the faithful dogs;
Blake's wonderful pair of poems, "The Tiger" and "The Lamb;" Mary Lamb's
exquisite picture of the boy and the snake; Emerson's "The Bumble Bee;"
those splendid imaginative characterizations of the beasts from the
thirty-eighth to the forty-first chapters of Job; "The Jackdaw of
Rheims;" "How They Brought the Good News." Why extend the actual list?
They are all things that place the animals which appear in them in their
romantic or tender relations to human beings, or interpret in a dramatic
and literary way the imaginary consciousness of the animal.

There is little danger of making poetry that is good enough to be given
as poetry, do the work of information-teaching. It seems easy to see in
the case of the poem, with its more imaginative method and its more
artificial form, that you spoil it as art when you teach it as science.
This fact is equally true of a good literary story.



It is not possible, in the plan adopted for this little book, to keep
the topics always strictly apart. It is not possible, for example, to
relegate to one section all one has to say about folk- and
fairy-stories, and to another all about fables, because each type has so
many aspects and radiations. Fables are stories; most of them are
animal-stories; they are symbolistic or figurative or allegorical--so
that one must approach them from many points of view, and take them into
consideration in many connections. There need be, therefore, no apology
for taking up in this new section topics partially discussed elsewhere.

It seems quite consonant with our best conclusions about younger
children to say that, on the whole, in the earlier years of their school
life their literature should be of that objective kind where no more is
meant than meets the eye. They may have tales of adventure, of plain
experience, of highly imaginative experience, of animal life, of
fairyland; but as far as possible let them be such as contain no occult
and secondary meanings. There are many things desirable for all
children, and under certain school conditions compulsory or
indispensable for some children, which do have this secondary meaning.
Such, if one uses them, are the stories from the great myths; such are
practically all of Andersen's _Märchen_; such are the legendary stories
of the Hebrew patriarchs. Of course, the parent or teacher who presents
these things to his children may say that the children never perceive or
even suspect an inner meaning. And it is true that, with great care and
skill, the objective upper surface may be kept before some children.
But, on the whole, it is good morality and good pedagogy to give to the
children nothing that you are not willing, even desirous, that they
should probe to the bottom. It is always a misfortune when one must say
to a child, "I can't explain that to you now;" "You can't understand
that yet;" so much a misfortune that no teacher should ever invite it.
If you have ever looked into the faces of the fifth grade when they were
searching you with questions to get at the meaning of Andersen's
pessimistic story of _The Little White Hen_; if you have seen the sixth
grade grow melancholy, with a vague augury of trouble they could not
fathom, when you have read to them the brilliant but tragic little
apologue of _Mr. Seguin's Goat_; if you have been obliged to explain to
some puzzled and suspicious eight-year-old the _raison d'être_ of the
clock-ticking alligator in _Peter Pan_, you have resolved hereafter to
give them no symbolism, or to give them symbolism whose presence they
could not possibly suspect (a most difficult thing to do in the case of
that many-minded, hundred-eyed child, the class), or to give such
symbolism as would invite them into paths where you would gladly have
them walk, whose most ultimate implication you are at least _willing_ to
explain to them. Of course, this principle cannot be pushed to its
logical extreme; merely logical extremes are always absurd. One does not
go into the philosophical depths of the special historical epoch he
chooses for his children, nor does he instruct them in the remote
scientific principles behind their window-garden or their aquarium of
polywogs and salamanders. But, if he is wise, he hopes to choose such
work, and present such aspects of it, as contain no insoluble mystery,
and do not tempt the children into paths for which their feet are not

So, when one is choosing literature it is very easy to fill all the time
the children have for it in the first four or five years of school with
things that are largely objective, and that, so far as their large
framework goes, mean just what they say. Indeed, will not most modern
teachers concede that throughout the period and in all his subjects it
is for the mental good of the child not to be called upon too frequently
to formulate principles, or habitually to look below the surface of his
facts for interpretations and secondary meanings? Of course, he must be
led by the natural stages to see through figures of speech, and to
understand and apply proverbs, and the proverbial manner of speech.

Proverbs, indeed, exemplify and epitomize the essentially literary type
of thinking and speaking. They are concrete and picturesque rather than
abstract, specific rather than general, though we are to understand by
them also the abstract and the general; this is the fact that gives them
their unique value as literary training. The teacher must call upon his
wisdom in choosing proverbs suitable for the children. Many proverbs are
pessimistic, even cynical: "It never rains but it pours;" many embody a
merely commonplace or unmoral code: "Honesty is the best policy;" some
are ambiguous: "There's honor among thieves;" some the modern world has
outgrown; many are too mature, too occult, or too worldly for a child.
But a great store remains--vivid, practical bits of experience and
tested wisdom which will develop a child's mental quickness, will do
something toward equipping him with the common wisdom of his race, and
will accustom him to one of the most characteristic methods of
literature. This is a good place to say that good results never seem to
come of asking the children for an exposition of the proverb. Indeed, it
is extremely difficult to get from children an exposition or definition
of any kind. The better way of making sure that they have appropriated a
proverb is to ask them to invent or re-call an incident or a situation
to which the proverb will apply. Naturally this is not an exercise for
the youngest children.

In the earlier years a great many of the simple old fables may be
taught. One is tempted to say that the traditionary or given moral
should never be told to the children; but that is a little too sweeping.
As a rule, however, it is better to lead them to make their own
interpretation or generalization, in those cases where such a thing is
desired. For, as a matter of fact, many of the fables are so good as
stories that they may often be left to stand merely as pleasant tales.

But as the children grow more penetrating, the fable is the best
possible form of symbolistic literature to set them at first. These,
with the minor exercise in the apprehension and interpretation of
figures of speech, will be their share of the symbolistic kind of
writing for several years. Then we may introduce more specimens, and
more complex specimens, until in the sixth- and seventh-grade periods
they may be able to interpret the universal and symbolic side of much
that they read, and to handle with ease and delight such parables as
_The Great Stone Face_ or _The Bee-Man of Orn_. Their experience in
literature will then harmonize with their experience in other
directions; for they should then, or immediately afterward, be beginning
to look for generalizations, to carry abstract symbols, and to
substitute them at will for concrete matter. At the same time, then,
they will study these fables as apologues, making in all cases their own
moral and application.

Perhaps this is the place to insert a caution against the practice of
extracting a "deeper meaning" out of a child when he does not easily see
it, or of so instructing him that he comes to regard every story that he
reads as a sort of picture puzzle in which he is to find a "concealed
robber" in the shape of a moral or a general lesson. It is a trivial
habit of mind, a pernicious critical obsession, of which many
over-earnest adult readers are victims--that of wringing from every and
any bit of writing an abstract or moralistic meaning. Another practical
caution may be needed as to these interpretations: Do not leave the
discussion until the class has worked out from the fable a moral or
application that practically the whole class accepts and the teacher
indorses. Do not accept numerous guesswork explanations and let them
pass. Even the little children, if they are allowed to interpret at all,
should be pushed on and guided to a sound and essential exegesis--to use
a term more formidable than the thing it names. Do not let them linger
even tentatively in that lamentable state of making their explanation
rest upon some minor detail, some feature on the outskirts of the story.
Help them always to go to the center, and to make the essential
interpretation. Make a point of this whenever they have a story that
calls for interpretation at all. To the end that they may be sincere and
thorough, choose those things whose secondary meanings they may as
children feel and understand. The sixth-grade children could, in most
schools, interpret _The Ugly Ducking_. They may easily be led into the
inner significance of _The Bee-Man of Orn_ or _Old Pipes and the Dryad_.
They may go on in seventh grade to certain of Hawthorne's--perhaps "The
Great Stone Face" and others of the _Twice Told Tales_; though Hawthorne
is so sombre and so moralistic that it is not good for some children to
read his tales, still less to linger over them and interpret them. A
mature and experienced eighth grade could study "The Snow Image"; but it
is too delicate and remote for all eighth-grade classes. "The Minister's
Black Veil" is an example of the peculiar Hawthornesque gloom, which the
children would not understand or by ill luck would understand, and
suffer the consequent dangerous depression. Addison's "The Vision of
Mirza" is an example of a standard little allegory, simple and easy, and
at the same time full of meaning and fruitful of reflection for the
children. The parables of the gospels are quite unique in their beauty
and ethical significance, and afford an opportunity for a most valuable
kind of training in literary exegesis. Certain tales from the _Gesta
Romanorum_ might be read in these older grades, adding the
interpretations of the ecclesiastics for the gaiety of the class, and as
a terrible warning against wresting an allegory out of a story by sheer

There are several reasons why the extended allegories do not yield good
results with a class. In the first place, it takes too long to get
through them, so that the process keeps the children too long in an
atmosphere of allegorical and symbolistic meanings, which will confuse
and baffle them. In the second place, all the extended literary
allegories have each behind it a complex system of abstract theology or
morals, or some other philosophy, which cannot be conveyed to children,
but which cannot be hidden from the class. Then in any long allegory,
such as _The Pilgrim's Progress_ or _The Fairie Queene_, the multiplied
detail all loaded with secondary significance is extremely misleading to
all but expert readers. As Ruskin says of myth, we may say of all other
allegory: the more it means, the more numerous and the more grotesque do
the details become. And we would not choose in a child's literary
training any large mass of material in which grotesqueness is a
prevailing note. Nearly all children are interested in _The Pilgrim's
Progress_, and will listen with eagerness to the romantic and
adventurous side of Christian's experience, but not, of course, to the
didactic and theological passages. And as a matter of fact, modern
religious teaching and the new race-consciousness of our generation have
taken all sense of reality out of Bunyan's theology and religious
psychology; and of course, it can be read to the modern child only
cursorily, as in the home--never in detail and with the privilege of
questioning as in the class.

One would expect a really good eighth-grade child to be able to detect
and express the lesson in Lowell's _The Vision of Sir Launfal_, or
Tennyson's _Sir Galahad_, or Longfellow's _King Robert of Sicily_. It
need hardly be said that the exercises in the symbolistic kinds of
literature are to be inserted here and there among the other lessons. It
would be a serious mistake to give any class a whole year--or a whole
month, indeed--of this experience in reading.



There are certain results in literary training that can be secured with
children only by the teaching of poetry. In story we and they are intent
upon subject-matter, and on the larger matters of the imaginative
creation. And, while we older students know that the choice and
arrangement of material involved in the making of a story are extremely
important and most truly educative, we also know that they belong in the
larger framework of the story and do not lend themselves to close
inspection or detailed study when our scholars are elementary children.

Again, most of the stories best suited to the children must be used in
translated and adapted versions, and all of them should be told in a way
that varies more or less from telling to telling, in vocabulary, in
figure, and occasionally in material detail. As a result, the stories,
until we come down to the very last year of the period, make on the
children no impression of the inevitableness of form, or of any of the
smaller devices of style and finish. These may be brought to bear in
verse. It should not be necessary to say again that the children will
know nothing of "larger effects" and "smaller details;" but the teacher
should know them, and should have some plan that will include both in
his teaching. Neither is it necessary to say that these minor matters of
style and finish that we will pause over with our elementary class will
prove to be very simple matters from the point of view of the expert and
adult critic.

It is verse that gives the child most experience in the musical side of
literature. The rhythm and cadence of prose have their own
music--perhaps more delicate and pleasing to the trained adult ear than
the rhythm of verse. But the elementary children need the simple
striking rhythm of verse, of verse whose rhythm is quite unmistakable.
Indeed, it is profitable in the first verses that children learn to have
an emphatic meter, so that the musical intention may not be missed, and
that it may be possible easily to accompany the recitation of the verses
with movement, even concerted movement as of clapping or marching. One
who is trying to write a sober treatise in a matter-of-fact way dares
not, lest he be set down as the veriest mystic, say all the things that
might be said about the function of rhythm, especially in its more
pronounced form of meter, among a community of children, no matter what
the size of the group--how rhythmic motion, or the flow of measured and
beautiful sounds, harmonizes their differences, tunes them up to their
tasks, disciplines their conduct, comforts their hurts, quiets their
nerves; all this apart from the facts more or less important from the
point of view of literature, that it cultivates their ear, improves
their taste, and provides them a genuinely artistic pleasure. If it
happens that the sounds they are chanting be a bit of real poetry, it
further gives them perhaps more than one charming image, and many
pleasant or useful words.

Most children are pleased with the additional music of rhyme. This is
true of all kinds of rhyme, but of course it is the regular terminal
rhyme that most children notice and enjoy and remember.

     Sing a song of sixpence,
       A pocket full of rye,
     Four and twenty blackbirds
       Baked in a pie.

all the children will rejoice in _rye_--_pie_. But there will be some to
whom _sing_--_song_--_sixpence_--_pocket_, _full_--_four_,
_blackbirds_--_baked_, are so many delights, and there may be some to
whom the wonderful chime of the vowels will make music. Anyone who knows
children will have noticed the pleasure that the merest babies will
take in beautiful or especially pat collocations of syllables. A child
whom I knew, just beginning to talk, would say to himself many times a
day, and always with a smile of amused pleasure, the phrases
"apple-batter pudding," "picallilli pickles," "up into the cherry tree,"
"piping down the valleys wild." It is probably true that some of his
apparent pleasure was that species of hysteria produced in most babies
by any mild explosion, and the little fusillade of _p's_ in the examples
he liked best would account for a part of his enjoyment. But we must
think that there was pleasure there, and, whether it were physical or
mental, it arose from the pleasing combination of verbal sounds. Most
children have this ear for the music of words; and some attempt should
be made to evoke it in those that have it not.

This quality, then, is the first thing we ask of the verse we choose for
the youngest children. The mere jingles, provided they are really
musical, are useful to emphasize this side of verse, because, being free
from content, they can give themselves entirely to sound. It is also
most desirable that some of these earliest verses be set to music that
the children can sing; that the class march to the rhythm of recited
verses; that they be taught, if possible, to dance to some of them.
Some such form of accompaniment of the verses, deepens the impression of
the music, records in the child's consciousness an impression of the
poem as an image of motion, and opens a channel for the expression of
the mood produced in the children by the verses--a more acceptable
channel of expression, certainly, for all the lyrics and for most of the
narrative verses, than mere recitation, and a more artistic one than
what we commonly know and dread as elocution.

The teaching of verse gives a chance and an invitation to linger over
and enjoy many fine and delicate aspects of the art that we are likely
to miss in the story. Something in the nature of verse--the
condensation, the careful arrangement, the chosen words--seems to call
upon us to go slowly with it. It may be that we linger to apprehend one
by one the details of an image or picture, like--

     Daffy-down dilly has come up to town
     In a yellow petticoat and a green gown,

     The captain was a duck, with a jacket on his back;

          The cattle are grazing,
          Their heads never raising,
          There are forty feeding like one;

     In the pool drowse the cattle up to their knees,
     The crows fly over by twos and threes;

some apt or beautiful phrase--

     Snowy summits old in story;

some bit of simple wisdom that deserves pondering; some flash of wit or
epigram, or enticing touch of nonsense.

These are really about all that we would pause over in teaching verses
to the younger children. Indeed, are not these elements about all of
what we call the smaller matters of literary art that elementary
children may be expected to concern themselves with--the music of the
spoken verse, appreciation of the beauty or adequacy of striking
pictures and images, recognition of some specially fit epithet,
interpretation of an aphorism or a paradox or a bit of nonsense? We will
discuss later some possible ways of getting these things done.

When we say that a poem gives us our best chance to study these finer
details, we should not by any means understand that in teaching a poem
we are to ignore the other matter of plan and structure. The very
condensation and beautiful organization of a poem are likely to result
in a charming plan, which both adds to the children's sense of its
beauty and helps to fix it in their memory. Every teacher will
notice--merely to mention examples--the perfect structure, what we have
called the "pattern," of Stevenson's "Dark brown is the river," of
Allingham's "I wish I were a primrose," of Wordsworth's, "I heard a
thousand blended notes;" and every teacher will realize the greater
class utility of a poem with such a structure.

The kinds of poetry suitable by virtue of their content for the children
throughout the whole elementary period are first, lyrics of the simpler
varieties, beginning with those which are practically only jingles, and
going on to those that are more complex in form and more mature in
thought, but which still record, as it were, the first reaction of the
mind, the primary mood, not the complex and remote moods of developed
lyric poetry; and second, poetry of the epic kind, beginning with the
Mother Goose ballads, and advancing to the objective heroic ballads in
which English literature is so rich, and perhaps (undoubtedly in certain
schools) including some of the longer narrative poems of the type of

It is clear to most teachers that the less the earlier lyrics say, the
better. The simplicity of the content makes it possible to emphasize all
the more the music and the motion. As the lyrics increase in content,
and as we begin to expect the children to enter into the mood which
their poem reflects, it becomes important to select such as record a
mood or an experience which they can apprehend or might legitimately
apprehend. Luckily, in our day it is no longer necessary to remonstrate
against what one may almost call the crime of requiring children to
study and to return "The Barefoot Boy," "Still sits the schoolhouse by
the road," "I remember, I remember the house where I was born"--adult
reminiscence of childhood, which is undoubtedly the most alien of moods
and processes to the child. But we are likely to be caught by the
apparent simplicity of certain verses which, written after the pattern
of _A Child's Garden_--indeed, the class includes some of these very
poems--record feelings about children and childhood. These verses, like
some of the delightful stories and studies mentioned in a previous
chapter are studies and realizations of the child's consciousness
calculated to delight and illuminate the adult reader. If children read
and understood them, the result would be that ghastly spectacle--a child
conscious of his own childhood.

No poetry given to children should be too imaginative, too figurative,
or too emotional. Here, to be sure, one must judge afresh for each
class. It is obvious that children of the eighth grade can apprehend a
poem that would bewilder the sixth; that children in one community,
even in one neighborhood, will understand a poem which children of a
different community and upbringing could not fathom. But the standard
is, after all, not infinitely variable. A good average seventh grade
almost anywhere would appreciate without difficulty, including the
spiritual application, Tennyson's "Bugle Song;" they could not find
their way among the many figures and the alien imaginative mood, the
poignant unknown emotion, of "Tears, idle tears."

It is not easy to go wrong in choosing the ballads. And by "ballads" we
are to understand the short narrative poem, traditionary or artistic.
The folk-ballads need translation here and there, and are scarcely
available at all for the youngest children. But those who are old enough
to hear the Robin Hood tales will enjoy the folk-ballads, if the teacher
take pains to prepare them and read them aright. As in the case of some
of the heroic epics, some editing is necessary for most of the ballads.
They should be given in the "say and sing," manner, turning the duller
or the link portions into prose narrative, and reading the exciting and
beautiful passages in the original form. Even this accommodated form of
the folk-ballads may prove impossible in some classes. There are ballads
ideal for the grades in nearly all the modern poets--Cowper, Scott,
Wordsworth, Campbell, Browning, Longfellow, Whittier, Kipling.

It is not so easy to choose for elementary children among the longer
narrative poems. As a matter of fact, a great number of them are of the
idyllic kind, and there is in this class of poems something soft and
meditative, or over-emotional and, if one must say it--sentimental or
super-romantic, that fits them for the comprehension of older readers,
and spoils them for the children. Others, such as Scott's narrative
poems, are too long and a bit too difficult for children younger than
the high-school age. Here and there one finds a poem, like "Paul
Revere's Ride," really more ballad than tale; a tender simple tale like
"King Robert of Sicily," for a mature eighth grade. "The Vision of Sir
Launfal;" not forgetting Morris' _The Man Born to Be King_, "The
Fostering of Auslag," and perhaps other things from _The Earthly
Paradise_. The simple but lofty style and feeling of "Sohrab and Rustum"
makes it possible for the older children. Any teacher who knows both
literature and children will see at once what it is that constitutes the
fitness of these poems, and what the unfitness of "Enoch Arden," "The
Courtship of Miles Standish," or "Lancelot and Elaine."

Perhaps the only library of literature that is perfectly suited to its
purpose and its public, and the only collection of masterpieces to be
put into the hands of its readers without misgiving, is the nursery
rhymes that we call _Mother Goose's Melodies_. It needs no more general
praise, and there is no room for specifications. But it is always in
order to urge teachers in this case, as in that of the fairy-tales, to
increase their knowledge of those traditionary bits of art. When one
knows their origin and something of their social and literary history,
they take on new dignity and importance. One ceases to look upon them as
mere nonsense to be rattled off for the amusement of the baby, and
learns to see them as little treasures of primitive art, miraculously
preserved and passed down from baby to baby through these many
generations: bits of old song and ballad, games and charms, riddles and
incantations, tales of charming incidents and episodes--a gallery of
unmatchable portraits, sallies of wit just witty enough for the
four-year-old, mild but adequate nonsense; all freed by the lapse of
years and the innocence of its devotees from every taint of
utilitarianism and occasionalism, winnowed and tested by the generations
of mothers and babies that have criticized them, they yield a new charm
at every fresh reading to the most experienced reader. They should
constitute the first literary material of every English-speaking child.
Every well-nurtured child will come to school already in possession of
many of them. But he will be glad to go over them for the sake of those
less fortunate, as well as for the sake of enjoying them with the whole
community, and in consideration of the new pictures, games, and songs
that will be joined with them.

Stevenson's _A Child's Garden of Verses_ is in some sense a quite unique
poetic production; and this remains true in spite of the many things
produced in imitation of it and inspired by it. It is a wonderful
example of the recovery by a grown person of the thread of continuity
leading him back to actual childhood; the recovery, too, in many
instances of the child's consciousness. It is the gate for us all to the
lost garden of our own childhood, pathetic in every line with the
evanescence of childhood, "whose hand is ever at his lips, bidding

Yet in spite of this most poignant appeal to the grown-up person, many
of the verses are ideally suited to children. They do not induce in them
our mood of pathos and regret, nor do they set their child-readers
imaginatively in another experience. They do very really constitute, as
Stevenson suggests, a window through which the child sees

     Another child far, far away,
     And in another garden, play;

a child with whom he tenderly sympathizes, at whom he lovingly smiles,
at whose games he looks on, whose toys and books he knows and loves.

The Child in the Garden is an only child, a lonely child, and a very
individualistic child; there is no comradeship in the verses; they
cannot be becomingly recited in concert; there is not a chorus or a
refrain in the whole book, in which all the children may join; there is
nothing communal about them. In spite of all the efforts, they cannot be
set to music, except as solos; and if the music matches the mood, it is
likely to be difficult for a child to sing. Several of them are too
imaginative--"Windy Nights," "Shadow March;" some are a bit
ironic--"Good and Bad Children," "System," "A Happy Thought;" some too
poignantly pathetic--"The Land of Nod;" some look at childhood too
obviously with the man's eyes--"Keepsake Mill;" but all these exceptions
leave many altogether suitable for children; and their perfect
structure, their musical verse-form, their childlike objectivity, and
the divine simplicity of their style render them an unceasing delight.

Though the Child of the Garden was a solitary child, he had a
constantly haunting sense of the world beyond--other children in other
lands, the foreign countries he might see by climbing higher, the
children who would bring his boats ashore far down the river, the
children singing in far Japan, the long-ago Egyptian boys, hints at the
wider experience and bigger world to which the six- and seven-year-old
children are so eagerly reaching out. At the same time nobody but
Stevenson--nobody at least, that has written a book--has ever taken
adequately the point of view of the human being three feet high--his
tiny horizon, the small exquisite objects to which he comes close, the
fairy-dells he sees, the rain-pool sea, the clover tree; nowhere else in
art is the little world of the little people adequately pictured--the
little world, and its obverse, the colossal grown-ups, with their
elephantine furniture amidst which the little men and women must
ordinarily move.

Many of these poems should be read with the single child at home. For
the class at school we may use "Foreign Lands," "Singing," "Where Go the
Boats," "My Shadow," "The Swing," "My Ship and I"--the more objective
and universal of them.

There are many pretty bits for the youngest children in Christina
Rossetti's _Sing-Song_--a book of nursery rhymes not sufficiently
known. Certain of Blake's _Songs of Innocence_ the children should know,
though they are always found too delicate and contemplative for the
whole class. Every teacher of children should know for his own
enlightenment the poems of Jane and Ann Taylor, and Dr. Watts's _Poems
for Infant Minds_. Psychologically speaking, they are in a world
completely alien to the modern student of children and of education; but
there is a stray verse or two like "The Violet" or "How doth the little
busy bee," that may some day fit the needs of the class. Every friend of
children, teacher or parent, should know Keble's _Lyra Innocentium_; he
cannot afford to miss the tone and atmosphere of Wordsworth's poems
about children and childhood. As a matter of fact, it is only a few of
Wordsworth's poems that will go well for class study, though a really
enthusiastic teacher may carry even a large class through "The Idle
Shepherd Boys" or "The Blind Highland Boy;" the older children should
know "Heartleap Well" and "Peter Bell." The true Wordsworthian is born,
only occasionally made; if he declares himself in a class in elementary
school, the teacher should guide him.

But we should soon learn, and aways remember, that the contemplative and
idyllic lyric, however it may delight the chosen child and the adult,
will, as a rule, neither please nor train the class, and that poems
written for children and about children are not at all likely to be the
things children love best and most profit by; the poetry should not
linger long in the nursery stage. The class should be pushed on as early
as possible into simple but heroic ballads, into lyrics, musical and
noble, but simple and easy as to content--all chosen from the great

Even if one desired it, it would probably be impossible to dislodge
_Hiawatha_ from its shrine in American elementary schools; and no one
ought to covet the task, for the iconoclast is likely to be set down as
a vulgar and egotistic person. _Hiawatha_ has become entrenched in the
schools by some such reasoning as this: Here is a poem written by an
American on aspects of life among the American aborigines; American
children should study it as literature. Children ought to be instructed
in primitive life and in myth; therefore they should study _Hiawatha_ as
literature. Children should learn much about nature and should learn
nature-poetry; therefore they should study _Hiawatha_ as literature.

Of course, there are pretty things in _Hiawatha._ Some of the passages
about the forest and the waters, the making of the canoe, the conquest
of Mondanim, the picture-writing, may most profitably be interwoven
with other things. It is instructive both as to literature and as to
fact to put the making of Robinson Crusoe's boat beside the building of
Hiawatha's canoe. But there are objections to a long and exclusive
course in this poem. The mythical side of it is baffling and
discouraging. Once more let me say that a _class_ is an extremely acute
and inquiring personality; after a few days it "wants to know." And it
is puzzled and dismayed, and finally frightened off, by the fact that
everything means something else. Furthermore, the details both of Indian
life and of Indian belief are so chosen and sifted and beautified as to
be most misleading, if we are emphasizing that side of the poem. Lastly,
it is not good for the young children to have a long-continued and
constantly renewed experience in the alien and wearing meter, and the
unmusical rhythm of _Hiawatha;_ and the verse-form dictates certain
trying peculiarities of style, in especial the slightly varied iteration
of detail:

     Ah, my brother from the North land,
     From the kingdom of Wabasso,
     From the land of the White Rabbit,
     You have stolen the maiden from me,
     You have laid your hand upon her,
     You have wooed and won my maiden.

This redundancy and repetition do not constitute the direct,
forward-moving style we should like to impress on the children. All
these considerations are offered to justify the judgment, held in great
modesty, that _Hiawatha_ should not be given in its entirety nor should
the children be kept at it for any long drill, but, if at all, in chosen
episodes and from time to time.

Of course, any teacher may see fit to draw out from Hiawatha the story
of any episode and treat it as a story, for dramatization, or as
illuminating some phase of the children's interest and activity. And
students old enough to interpret the mythical meaning of the poem may
profitably read it.

Occasionally, and as something apart from their regular lessons, the
children should hear beautifully read passages of the incomparable music
of some of the great masters, regardless of their understanding of the
content--the first sixteen lines of _Paradise Lost_; some especially
musical sonnet of Shakespeare's, or some passage of lofty eloquence from
the plays; some vague and haunting bit of music from Shelly, or Poe, or
Keats; some fanfare of trumpets from Byron, or Macaulay, or Kipling.

Every teacher will realize that all the titles and authors and kinds
mentioned in this study cannot be put into the children's lessons. It
is to be hoped that he will realize that they are mentioned as concrete
examples, or suggestive instances of things that are good, and to
support the principles under discussion.

The distinctive service of poetry will be the cultivation of the
children's sense of the musical side of literature; the opportunity for
appreciating some of the minor beauties of the literary art; and among
the older children, acquaintance with the more highly imaginative
method, and the more intensely emotional moods.



There are many of the elements of drama that are eminently serviceable
in the child's literary and artistic training. One cannot use the word
"elements" in this connection without explaining that the word as used
here does not designate absolutely simple and primitive things. They are
elements only with respect to the complex whole which we call a drama.
The elements of drama are story, plot, character, impersonation,
dialogue, gesture, stage requirements; add to these the matter of
literary expression, a pronounced structure which divides the production
into clearly distinguished parts or acts; and add the further fact that
in all its developed and typical specimens drama is the expression and
presentation of a complex social situation, or the vehicle of a mature
philosophy. It is quite evident, then, that the fully constituted
literary drama will be both too complex and too difficult for children
under twelve, and in most communities for any elementary children.

But the elements of drama are not of necessity always in the difficult
and elaborate combination which constitutes a literary drama. They
appear singly and in simpler combinations here and there in many of the
experiences and occupations of the child. They may be selected and
combined for him in such products as will secure for him the distinctive
joys and discipline of the drama.

For example, there is the element of gesture, which in its elaborated
form becomes technical acting. In its primitive and fundamental form it
is instinctive with children--well-nigh purposeless at first,
uncontrolled and fantastic like the early activities of their
imagination, but easily organized and directed toward a purpose. The
first step in this direction is the game. Some of the charming
group-games the children learn even in the kindergarten are genuine
dramatic art. Such games are, at any rate, the first opportunity to
channel and to turn into something like artistic expression the
children's ceaseless activity.

We have all learned to appreciate the social and physical value of play.
We may well add now a respectful estimate of games as art. The
group-game may seem at first glance far from the child's literary
training; but, as a matter of fact, a good game which has in it, as a
good game always has, an orderly process and a climax, is just such an
artistic whole as a story. Besides, many of our best group-games are
accompanied by a rhythmic chant, often by pretty or quaint verses, such
as "Itisket, itasket, a green and yellow basket;" or, "How many miles to
Babylon?" or "London bridge is falling down." Acting upon this hint, we
may substitute for these verses more artistic lines, or we can furnish
more artistic lines with the fitting game. And these activities,
channeled and disciplined by the group-game, are receiving the best
possible training for dramatic acting by and by.

We must consider dancing as a form of dramatic gesture, and as a
training for it. We may all rejoice in the current change of attitude
toward dancing, which bids fair to replace it in education and among the
arts. We are learning again to regard it as such a controlling and
refining of motion as makes an appeal to one's sense of beauty, not as
the vulgar, one might almost say sordid, accomplishment it has been in
average society for many generations. The rediscovery of the charming
and simple folk-dances has given us a new art for the children, which we
may substitute for the unnatural waltz, and the mongrel two-step we have
been teaching them for years. A dance is a medium for expressing a mood,
and a means of communicating it; like the games, it is a method of
channeling and training activity. From this point of view one may see
its two-fold relation: on the one hand, to the child's natural
activities, taking them up, selecting among them, and combining them
into a beautiful whole; on the other hand to dramatic acting, training
and controlling the physical movements of gesture and pose and poise.
Ideally it may have a closer connection with literature. Not only may
dancing reflect a mood; it may tell a story or present a situation; many
primitive dances were of this kind. In a previous chapter I have spoken
of dancing as a method of motion to accompany spoken verse, as a means
of deepening the sense of rhythm. It is possible to represent in this
way, not only the movement of the words, but the mood of the lyric, and,
_mutatis mutandis_, the events of the ballad. I have seen the
fourth-year class present a little dance of "Hickory dickory dock"
invented for them by their teacher, and another class a little older do
a humorous dance of "There was a man in our town," than which two
performances nothing could be more charming. Of course, these were not
in any sense reproductions of the actions suggested by the jingles;
there was no gesture that told of running up the clock, or scratching
out his eyes; that would be the business of the old gesticulating
elocution so deplorable in the artificiality of its would-be realism.
The dances were felt to be merely the active response to the rhythm and
the mood of the recited words--bits of dramatic tone-color, as it were.

One wonders why all teachers do not make a game of "Charades" a frequent
class recreation and discipline, since it has in it so many elements of
educational value--the contributions to the children's vocabulary, the
sugar-coated persuasion to attend to spelling, the frequent need for the
invention of dialogue, the sharpening of everybody's wits, and, best of
all, the call for significant pantomime, genuine dramatic gesture, and
the fun, which is always educative.

When we come to the element of impersonation, we are nearer the heart of
dramatic art, and perhaps deeper into the circle of the child's
interests and instincts as well. Imitation is one of the absolute and
fundamental aspects of a child's activities. It is impossible to escape
calling it an instinct, when one sees that it is deeper and more
universal than any impulse or tendency. The interpretation put by more
recent psychologists upon the term and the fact of imitation throws a
new and grateful light upon it as a principle in drama. In the light of
this interpretation, we can not longer think of imitation as a servile,
and more or less formal, copying of the thing seen. We are now saying
that in these activities of the children, when they are playing horse,
or playing hunter, or playing soldier, they are not copying something
they have seen or heard of; they _are_ keeping house, they _are_
hunting, they _are_ marching and fighting. Not even bodily activity is a
more incessant and absolute aspect of play than this of make-believe.
Imaginative children, and those that have some variety of experience,
are rarely at leisure to appear in their own characters--so constant is
the dramatic and imitative impulse in exercise. Indeed, two little girls
I knew, after a forenoon of unceasing and strenuous impersonation of a
repertoire ranging from a door-mat and a cake of ice in the Delaware on
through the ghost of the murdered Banquo, were finally obliged to sit
down in utter weariness, when one of them suggested: "Now let's play
we're just plain little girls." In the same nursery of four children the
child who returned to the room after any absence always cautiously
inquired of each of the others, before taking up affairs: "What are you
being now?"

In certain hours of his study of literature and literary appreciation
one is ready to believe that this impulse toward impersonation is the
very fundamental fact in that appreciation. It is the door through which
one enters into the situations and feelings which make up the life
represented in the story, poem, or drama. This it is that gives that
strange grip of reality to literature; it is this that turns the
appreciation of literature into personal culture, so that in a very real
sense one may substitute literature for experience. It is easy to
utilize this passion very early, turning it in the direction of art. In
the kindergarten they have long known how to adapt it in the play which
they so wisely interchange and amalgamate with their games; and the
little pantomimes of "Bo-peep" and "Little Boy Blue," of flocks of
birds, of butterflies on the wing, and what not, are on the road to true
dramatic art. But, alas! this is cut all too short in the school--the
average school, where the scholars are converted immediately into the
veriest little pitchers--all ears; and, instead of being twenty selves
in a day, they are denied the privilege of being even one whole one.
This gift for impersonation should, like all their imaginative
experiences, be conserved by exercise and guidance; otherwise it remains
merely chaotic and accidental, and very soon the child himself is
ashamed of it and regards its exercise as a "baby" performance to be
left behind in the kindergarten. This exercise and guidance may be given
by training the children in little plays, which, to begin with, are not
much more than pantomime, but which add, as they go on, other elements
of the real drama--an organized action and dialogue.

Of course, there is the dramatic monologue--the recitation. But this
does not meet the needs of the class. It is impossible that all the
children should sympathetically impersonate the same character and
realize the same experience. Neither does this sort of exercise--the
recitation--give a chance for co-operation in the production of a bit of
social art; it does not give them the discipline of apprehending and
producing a large whole, and it tends to develop and foster an
unendurable kind and degree of egoism.

Where are we to get these plays, since there are practically none of
respectable literary quality ready to our hand? One must say
"practically none," because there are a few in print which can be used,
chiefly dramatizations of folk- and fairy-tales. But, for the most part,
and just as it should be, the teacher and the class will have to make
their own plays, until in the eighth grade or thereabouts they are ready
for some literary drama. As will be pointed out later, these
co-operatively produced dramas constitute the best possible return which
the children can make of their literary training, and at the same time
the best possible means of securing their apprehension of the story they
use; since in recasting a story as a play they will come to know it as
plot, as activity of persons, and as a structure made up of essential

Almost the first thing the child sees is the fact that there is
something organic and necessary about these divisions and subdivisions.
He sees them separate themselves out from the narrative as things in
themselves, and then reunite to form a complete whole again. It matters
not whether the story be one that he has been taught, a historical
episode, or a story invented by himself, the emphasis upon structure,
upon organization, which is one of the elements of drama, will be
helpful, as a matter of literary training.

As to the dialogue--the actual literature of this communal drama--we
must be most indulgent, and on the whole uncritical. A marked
peculiarity of the dramatizations of the little people, as indeed of
those of their elders, is that they forget to be literature at all, so
that what is not dumb-show must be set down as noise. It is a
troublesome and delicate task for the teacher who is guiding them to
manage to give the dialogue a tone better than mere commonplace and
different from mere bombast. It is wisest, on the whole, to get them to
choose stories and events that will sway their dialogue toward the
bombastic and away from the commonplace; they will certainly be more
spontaneous, and probably more artistic. And it is easy to set into
every play some genuine gem of literature--a lyric to be sung, a little
story to be told. It is desirable to introduce as much music as
possible--really artistic little songs that fit into the atmosphere of
the play and help to create it; it makes better "team-work." A dance
too, always provided it harmonizes with the tone and spirit of the play,
helps the feeling of co-operative production. The children's acting, in
the sense of gesture and stage-business, is very likely to be stiff and
artificial. Marches and dances that belong in the play make an
imperative call for movement, and accustom them to action without
self-consciousness and formality.

The story, then, is generally given--it is something the children have
read, it is a historical event, though of course it may be furnished by
some inventive member of the class, or evolved by them together.
Whatever it is, it will in all probability not differ in any way from
the story of any narrative. The plot will be the plot of the narrative
story; it will be either an accident or a very noteworthy fact, if the
material furnished displays a true dramatic plot. There will probably be
no true dramatic characterization. The teacher cannot aim at it, and
must not expect it; though occasionally the born actor declares himself
and presents us "a man in his humor" in true dramatic fashion. But, on
the whole, we are contented if up to the time we are twelve or thirteen
we move about the stage, as the persons move through the story,
delivering ourselves of such dialogue as is needed to put the action
forward--and nothing more. It goes without saying that place must be
made for a large number of "sups." An army is a great device, for in the
marching and manoeuvering most of the class can manage to appear upon
the stage first or last. _Briar-Rose_ makes a great play for the third
or fourth grade, for every man in the grade can appear as a thorn-bush
in the hedge. There may easily be two different casts for every play.
Occasionally there is the opportunity for the whole class to appear in
character as audience.

It is almost impossible to say anything concerning the staging, the
theatrical side, of these plays that will be helpful everywhere because
the facilities vary so widely in different schools and different
communities. In general, it is best to have what answers for a stage.
There is some mystic influence in the raised platform, the curtain, the
proscenium arch that cuts off this performance from the rest of the
world and gives it at once the distinction of art. Every dramatic guide
of young people should help forward as much as possible the movement to
free drama from the tyranny of the stage carpenter, the scene-painter,
and the costumer. And with children as with the early folk-players it
takes very little to create the illusion. A feather in his head makes
the six-year-old a noble red man without more ado. A sash over her
shoulder converts a little maiden of the third grade into a haughty
princess. But the feather and the sash are good pedagogy as well as good
art. An arm-chair makes a parlor; a half-dozen arm-loads of boughs makes
a forest. I witnessed a stirring performance of _Siegfried, the Child of
the Forest_, where the illusion of the deep-forest glades was created by
three rubber plants, a potted palm, and a sword-fern in a jardinière! A
golden-haired Siegfried with an angora rug thrown over one shoulder, a
blackened Mimi with a mantle of burlap fastened about him with a
trunk-strap--the whole atmosphere of art was there.

As the children grow older, and alas! in most cases less imaginative,
they will require more properties. If possible, they should work
together to make the scenery and provide the properties, and should be
prevailed upon to make their own costumes. The wise teacher will keep
the costuming out of the hands of the "tender mamas" all he can; for in
most cases the participation of the mothers in this side of the
preparations, unless they are given specific directions and compelled to
follow them, means the introduction of the fatal spirit of competitive
finery. The children should be taught to see that the costuming is a
part of the art, and that everybody's costume must be brought "within
the picture."

Now, up through the sixth or seventh grades (this will depend upon the
average maturity of the children, upon the kind of culture in the homes
from which they come, upon the character and knowledge of the teachers
in the grades through which they have come) the plays that the children
have should be of the kind we have been considering--epic material, mere
direct story put together under the simplest of dramatic
principles--those of analysis into movements, of dialogue and of action
in its simpler forms. But in the eighth school year (merely to set a
limit), and bridging the children over into their ninth or first year of
high school, there may be a change. The child has gradually become
conscious of the complexity of life and human interests; he begins to
make his adolescent readjustment to the world, to realize in a conscious
way its history and its institutions; his own studies in history have
become studies in the interweaving of complex factors; the great social
institutions begin to press their claims and offer their attractions;
college looms ahead, conditioning all his undertakings; the church makes
its appeal or asserts its rights; upon all too many children the
institutions of business and industry make their call; in most children
their own moral and religious problems, and those of their mates, rise
to consciousness. Epic directness and singleness now no longer seem an
adequate picture of human affairs. It is now that the child has his
first moment of ripeness for the characteristic inner things of the
literary drama: the clash and combination of institutions; the revolt of
the individual against the institution, with his final destruction or
adjustment; the plot which is an interweaving of ethical and complex
social forces--the characters generally intricate to begin with, and
undergoing profound modification in the process of the action, different
from the static epic characters he has known hitherto. In short, we may
find that the eighth grade is ready for some specimens of that literary
type which is the truest artistic presentation of the social and moral
complex, the literary drama. Luckily, there are grades and shades of
complexity, and a wide range of choice as to the nature and difficulty
of the problems involved. One would scarcely encourage the eighth- or
ninth-year school children to attack the intricate adjustment and
interplay of _Hamlet_; he would not like them to follow the baffling
complexities of social, personal, and economic considerations through
_The Pillars of Society_. But _The Merchant of Venice_ offers problems
and situations which he can understand; in _Julius Caesar_ and in
_Macbeth_, in _Wilhelm Tell_, and in the _Wallenstein_ plays, noble and
finished dramas as they are, he encounters nothing that he cannot grasp.
On the contrary, the ideas and the situations are such as he readily
understands, and such as legitimately enlarge his horizon. The
Shakespeare, at any rate, will probably be studied as poetry, and the
children should be encouraged to act, in whole or in part, any play that
they can study as literature.

It may be that the facilities of the school will prohibit any attempt to
stage one of these larger plays. In that event chosen bits may be given
as dialogue or monologue fitted into a recital of the story, and a
description of the situation. The teacher should always remember that
the drama is oral literature, and the literature of it makes its
legitimate appeal first to the ear. Children memorize so easily, that
they will know the play by heart practically as soon as they have
finished such a consideration of it as enables them to read it
intelligently. If not, the striking and beautiful passages should be
deliberately memorized.

Should these dramatic performances be produced before a public? Most
certainly yes. Let it be however small a public--two neighboring grades,
invited parents and friends; but let the study and effort bear its
legitimate fruit in the public presentation. Only when we lead them to
turn back what they have gained into a community asset, have we done
anything to train our children in social art. And this is so natural and
easy in the case of an acted drama that it is a pity to miss the
opportunity. Of course, they must love the thing they do. It must be
made good enough to give, and be therefore offered. We shall gradually
recover from the fright we have been in now for some time as to the
children's desire to "show off." How can we be sure we should have had
any art, if this motive had not mingled with the others in the
production and publication of the art-product? Let us cease to give it
an invidious name; instead of calling it the desire to "show off," let
us call it the artists' passion--be he poet, painter, actor, what
not--to communicate, to turn back into the common life this thing he has
but drawn out of the common life to elaborate and beautify.

The child and the theater makes a difficult problem. One need not say
that a habitual theater-going child is a social, and most likely a
moral, monster. But children should occasionally see a play with the
pomp and circumstance of the stage. In the large cities it is not
difficult to find a play or two each year that it is good for a child to
see--something of Shakespeare, or some other heroic spectacle; some
innocent programme of horse-play and frolic; some pretty pantomime, and
occasionally a melodrama neither banal nor over-sentimental. If we but
realized the theater as an educational and aesthetic force, we might
secure many more such things by an intelligent appeal for them and an
intelligent reception of them.

After the children have had these few heroic plays we have discussed for
the eighth or ninth grade, they mature so rapidly that their contact
with the literary drama ceases to be a child's problem at all; it passes
into the field of secondary training, where it must, as things now are
in our schools, be approached from a somewhat different point of view.



In this day of reaction, not to say revulsion, against "methods" in
teaching, it is with much misgiving that one brings one's self to speak
of the practical details of teaching a subject, lest he be suspected of
having a method or even a system, or lest those suggestions which he
tries to give out as genetic and stimulating merely, be taken as a
formalized plan. However, each body of material that has any degree of
separateness has a handle by which it ought to be taken; disregarding
the poor figure--paths by which one most easily comes to the center of
it; certain points of view from which it looks most attractive and
manageable. Some such handles, or paths, or points of view it will be
the business of this chapter to indicate; and the suggestions to be
offered are, it is to be hoped, so simple and so reasonable as to have
occurred to many observing and growing teachers.

The somewhat small body of literature to be used in the classes should
practically throughout the elementary period be read to the children in
class, not read by them. The relation of the literature to
reading-lessons will be discussed elsewhere. It may well be that in the
last years of the period many of the members of the class will have
reached the stage of reading needful for the interpretative and
apprehensive reading of literature; but the majority of the class will
not. They will master the difficulties of mechanical reading; they may
achieve the plane of intelligent reading. But here the large majority of
them linger. Vast numbers of people never push on to the next
plane--that of appreciative reading. And it is small wonder; for the
combination of mechanical, intellectual, and emotional processes that it
involves constitutes it well-nigh the most difficult of achievements.
Hosts of estimable and intelligent persons, respectable citizens, live
out long years of greater or less usefulness, and never have a glimpse
of this kind of reading. It is by no means true that even every good and
useful citizen who teaches literature, can do this kind of reading; many
times he cannot. But he can read better than the children. They,
involved in the difficulties of their inexpert reading, cannot see the
woods for the trees; they are obliged to go so slowly, and to absorb so
much energy in what one may call the manual work of reading, that they
miss the essentially literary things--the movement, the picture, the

Of course, when we say "read," we use the word in the broad sense of
rendering the matter _viva voce_, whether it be actual reading from the
text or reciting. While the person who is reading a story to children
must be most concerned with spirit and meaning, he must not, if he
suppose himself to be teaching literature, neglect the matter of style.
If the story is a translated one, he must make or choose some beautiful
translation. Everything that he reads to them he must work over
beforehand, so that he can give it with effective certainty. He more
than defeats his purpose who transmits to his children no matter how
good a story in slip-shod sentences, commonplace phrasing, go-easy
enunciation; or, worse than that, in the ostentatiously childlike
language and manner that constitute official kindergartenese, or in the
hilariously cheerful manner which marks traditional Sunday-schoolese;
or, worst of all, in that tone of cheap irony that so many people see
fit to adopt for all their communications with children. It is the tone
of the average adult whenever he enters into conversation with any
acquaintance under twelve--an underbred or quite uncalled-for tone of
badinage, of quizzing, of insincerity. It is an unpardonable
misunderstanding of the dignity and seriousness of children to offer
them babble when they ask only simplicity, or to treat with flippancy
what to them are the serious things of art. It should be quite possible
to be serious without being solemn, and cheerful without being
hilarious. This matter of a good style and form is so important that a
teacher should achieve it at any cost of trouble and study. I like to
use every opportunity to say that he should so thoroughly know his story
or poem, be it the simplest old fairy-tale, or the veriest
nursery-jingle, that he loves and respects it as art; and should so know
and respect his audience and his purpose that a good and suitable
literary form flows from him inevitably; or, if he is reading an actual
text, that every sentence is both appreciative and interpretative. But,
if he cannot achieve this, let him in the first instance write out a
good form of his story, or find one and memorize it. There is no denying
that in the hands of a cold and mechanical person this production will
display some priggishness and false propriety. But the failure as
literary training would be less disastrous in this case than if the same
person gave a haphazard and commonplace impromptu version.

There is such a thing as literary reading as distinguished from the
reading of matter technical in content and merely intellectual in
appeal. Teachers, accustomed as they are to read for facts and intent
upon the logical emphasis, are peculiarly prone to read literature
poorly--missing the music and the emotion, rendering it all in the hard
intellectual manner that is acceptable only as the vehicle of the
colorless matter of a technical treatise. There is also such a thing as
the telling of a literary story, as distinguished from the telling of
any other story. A narrative of events in history, an account of some
occurrence in nature or ordinary affairs, may be expected to proceed
from point to point without arrangement or succession other than the
order of incidents as they occur. The interest is the interest of fact;
the thread is that of cause and effect, or any other plain sequence.

But in the literary story the incidents are sifted and arranged. Certain
details are prophecies--foreshadowings of things to come; certain
incidents are vital turning-points in the action; certain phrases are
the key and counter-sign of the whole story; some paragraphs are plain
narration; some are calm description; some are poetic interpretation;
some roar with action; some glow with emotion; some sparkle with fun;
some lie in shadow, others stand forth in the brilliant light; there are
movements in the story, marked by a change of scene, a change of
situation, a pause in the action--parts which would be marked in the
drama as scenes or acts; there is the gradual approach to the center,
the pivotal occurrence, the readjustment of affairs to ordinary life.
Ideally, all these things will be indicated in the presentation that an
accomplished story-teller makes of a literary story. This seems to set
the standard very high--too high for the discouraged attempt of the
overworked grade teacher. If so, she may reflect that it is triumphantly
true that such is the affinity between the child and the story that he
will get much delight and nourishment out of any telling of it. Who has
not hesitated between a smile and a tear at the spectacle of a child or
a class hanging enthralled and hungry upon a story rendered by a mother
or a teacher whose every pronunciation was a jar, whose every cadence a
dislocation, and whose every emphasis a misinterpretation?

And remember, the art of story-telling is not the art of the theater,
not the art of the actress, but the art of the mother, the nurse; the
art of the "spinsters and the knitters in the sun;" the art of the
wandering minstrel, of the journeyman tailor, of the exiled younger
brother; art designed to reach, not an audience beyond the footlights,
but one gathered on the sunny bench of the market-place, on the
hearth-stone, under the nursery lamp, in the shady garden, and in their
own teacher's schoolroom.

As a practical matter, the teacher, in presenting a story or a narrative
poem, should take advantage of the natural pauses, the end of one
incident or movement and the beginning of the next, in dividing his
material for the actual lessons, so that in a long story or in a drama,
the end of the lesson coincides with the close of a series of incidents
or the close of one of the larger movements. Nothing spoils a bit of
literature more effectually than taking it in accidental or fragmentary
bits. At any cost of time and pains, let there be a sense of
completeness in each lesson, a feeling of repose, if only temporary, at
the end of each instalment. And whether he closes his lesson or not, the
teacher should at the close of every such movement in a class of older
children pause to discuss, to review, or to summarize. When he makes
this recognition of the close of a series of incidents, or of a
movement, he accomplishes two things: he secures a certain amount of
completeness, and he helps on in the children the desirable sense of
organization, of composition, in their story or play.

The nature of the bit of literature chosen must guide the teacher in his
first presentation of it. When it is a thing in which the movement is
rapid, or the interest in the action or the plot intense, it will
doubtless be best to go rapidly through the whole, not pausing for any
details. Then go over it slowly again, pausing for appreciation and
comment. It seems well to repeat here that if the story is long and the
plot involves any intensity of suspense, it may be well to let the
children know the issue early in the story; the wisdom of this step will
depend largely upon the average nerves of the class. There may well be
several readings of a thing worth reading once. Every teacher knows how
well content the younger children, especially, are to go over a thing
many times. The interest of the class of older children may be kept up
through the many readings of a story or poem, by shifting each time the
ground of comment or discussion, opening up a new question or revealing
a new point of interest at each reading. In other pieces, the slower
moving stories and lyrics, the children are willing to linger over the
details at the first reading.

It is all but impossible to indicate what such details are, or what we
mean by lingering over them. I have pointed out in some detail, in the
chapter on poetry, the kind of thing that one would linger over for
comment and question.

If it is a new, rare, or especially picturesque word, we may ask
questions and receive comments, or according to the situation, give
quick and direct information about it: "The golden orange _glows_;" "He
strung the bow _deftly_;" "The butter-cup catches the sun in its
_chalice_." These three words call for attention for different reasons,
in addition to the fact that any or all of them might be new and unknown
words to the class. In the case of a figure or image we would pause and
discuss the various terms and details of it, until most members of the
class have at least intellectually apprehended it. Such a complex little
figure and image as "footsteps of the falling drops down the ladder of
the leaves" calls for leisurely appreciation and assimilation. A
peculiar musical onomatopoeic line will interest them; "Burly dozing
bumble-bee," is such a line. They will be delighted to discover why this
peculiar assemblage of sounds was chosen in connection with this insect.
"The long day wanes, the slow moon climbs," indicating and imitating by
its slow movement and long vowels the passage of the lingering hours, is
an effect they should be led to realize. We should pause to point out,
or to inquire into, the implications of some pregnant or pivotal
sentence, such as: "Now, Cinderella's godmother was fay;" or, "Cyclops,
you asked my noble name, and I will tell it: My name is Noman." The bit
selected for detailed study may be larger, amounting to a complete
incident--for example, Nausicaa with her maids washing her beautiful
clothes by the river; some scene or incident full of character and
symbolical meaning, as the scene with the hen and the cat in _The Ugly
Duckling_; some ethical or moral question that calls for judgment, such
as Robin Hood's treatment of the unjust abbot, or Portia's decision as
to Shylock's bond.

These examples, chosen at random, are intended simply to suggest the
kind of thing to be stopped over. It would be a grave mistake to pause
over every such detail, or to try to make sure that the children
apprehend even intellectually every item as it appears. Leave many of
them for subsequent readings; let many of them lie permanently,
depending rather on the effects of the general tone and spirit of the
production for your results. One of the first lessons to learn about the
teaching of literature is that it will not do to teach the whole art on
the basis of one specimen--that it will not do to teach in any case all
that one could. One must rather try to teach the characteristic, the
inevitable lesson--the lesson demanded by the genius of his piece. Let
the teacher avoid by all means the pitfall of "talky-talk" and lecture.
Keep the literature as near play as possible--the play that cultivates
and disciplines through the avenues of refined pleasure.

It will often be necessary for the teacher to shorten and otherwise edit
the thing he chooses. There will come from time to time dull passages,
descriptive passages, passages whose subject-matter is too mature, or in
some other way undesirable for his class. He will often be able to
economize effort and to secure a better unity of impression, by omitting
what is mere enrichment of the picture or reinforcement of the teaching;
such incidents may be removed without altering the meaning or the
movement. The teacher must be experienced enough to recognize such
unnecessary or superfluous incidents; otherwise he only mutilates his
story in condensing it.

When the children have advanced to some proficiency in reading, they
will, of course, begin to read some of their own literature, reading
aloud in the class and often having the text before them as the teacher
reads. All the children that can read at all should, as a rule, have a
printed copy of anything they are asked to memorize; and as a matter of
social duty, the teacher of literature, or the teacher in the literature
class, will from time to time have a careful exercise in reading for the
younger readers; while he will have much reading aloud from the older
grades; remembering that the inevitable obverse of receiving literature
through the ear is the rendering it with the voice. But, on the whole,
they will fare best if up to and probably through the sixth grade they
receive what is distinctively literature through the ear. And even after
that they should often hear their material rendered by a good reader in
class, even though they may be required to read the same material over
beforehand, or subsequent to the class reading.

Every teacher should have in reserve a store of stories and poems, and
beautiful passages from great masterpieces which he produces from time
to time as a surprise to his class. This is many a time the most
effective lesson possible--adding to the children's pleasure the delight
of surprise, creating in them the impression of the inexhaustible supply
of beautiful things, and testifying to their teacher's own joy in the
things he wants them to love.

Other minor and practical matters, more closely connected with the
return from the children than the presentation to them, will be
discussed in the next chapter.

Finally, the whole matter is conditioned and colored by the fact that in
any case the literature is transmitted to the children through the
personality of the teacher. This is partially true of all a child's
subjects and his whole experience in school; but the fact that
literature is so inwoven with feeling, and so bound up with matters of
personal taste, that it concerns itself so much with matters of ethics
and conduct, makes it peculiarly liable to take on color, to narrow or
to widen with the personality of him who chooses and renders it. A
teacher must accept this fact, and profit by the obvious warnings that
arise out of it; but better than that, build his work upon the many
beneficent aspects of the fact. The teacher before his class is the
sacred bard at the feast; he is an exhaustless spring of joy, a tireless
playfellow, a preacher who never proses, a schoolmaster who never



The discussion must naturally limit itself largely to the immediate
return that we may ask of the children from their lessons in literature;
since it is not possible to do more than hint at their ultimate effects.
It is, of course, a matter of pedagogical morality to ask from them some
immediate and practical return, or some actual literary contributions to
the lessons. There are certain modifications of the modern doctrine that
every stimulation of the mind or the emotions should eventuate in
activity--modifications that apply to all the fine arts. The aesthetic
experience is a complete experience in itself; the apprehension, the
enjoyment, and the final appreciation which one passes through in his
contact with a beautiful piece of art--a picture, a symphony, an
ode--constitute a complete psychic experience; they eventuate in a
better taste, a higher ideal, the record of a pure and noble joy. They
do not demand further activity. We need not feel, therefore, that it is
a matter of necessity to ask that in every case the class make some
tangible response to every literary impression.

But the teacher of literature must feel that he shares with all their
other teachers the responsibility and the duty of making social beings
of the children, of equipping them with the means of expression and
communication, so that they may turn back into the sum-total a product
in exchange for the material they draw out. He must, therefore,
associate with the lessons a legitimate amount of exercise for his class
in imparting what they have learned and in creating literary products
for themselves.

The first and simplest return we ask is the oral comment, the immediate
discussion that accompanies the presentation of the work. When a story
has been read, there should always be opportunity for question and
comment. This the teacher must guide and restrain. Of course, he should
be hospitable to suggestions and contributions, patient, and generous to
questions. But he must be cautious never to let the talk even on the
part of the smallest children remain mere prattle, or degenerate into an
aimless scamper around the paddock; he will see that there is a point or
a line to cling to, and he will manage that this shall be done. Every
teacher knows how one petty or commonplace child, one would-be wit or
skeptic, can drag the discussion into the dust and keep it there, unless
he is promptly and perhaps vigorously suppressed. Of course, in these
discussions there is very small opportunity for training the voice and
criticizing the language. Let there be, if possible, a free flow of
comment and contribution, uninterrupted by any corrections except those
of the most egregious errors. The teacher who guides it should study his
questions, and even with the little ones should bring into the light of
discussion the vital and salient things, and by means of a question from
time to time, keep the conference away from triviality and gossip. He
will begin to train his children from the beginning to make legitimate
inductions from their material, and will require them to give reasons
based upon the actual story or poem. He will be able to lead them to
find the precise point of departure in the story for the introduction of
their personal experience or their new incident, and he will help them
in every case to make clear the application of their own material to the

It is in this spontaneous and free, but guided, conference that the
children get most good out of the literature lessons. Of course, as they
grow older the discussion of persons and their conduct, and the ethical
and social bearing of events and opinions, may be broadened and
deepened. As they grow older, too, more correctness and style and
fulness may be demanded in their impromptu contributions to the
discussion. A child may, without suspecting it, and consequently without
self-consciousness, acquire some considerable skill in extemporaneous
speaking and some genuine intellectual ease in conversation from these
class discussions.

Another natural return to be asked from the children is the repetition
of the story, in whole or in part, by members of the class in their own
words; though of course, after many hearings of it well told the
children will have incorporated into their own vocabulary the most
useful and characteristic words. This exercise should never be allowed
to pass into a careless and slipshod performance; the children should be
alive and responding alertly to the call made upon them. Their grammar,
their sentences, their emphases and intonations may appropriately be
corrected more vigorously in this exercise than in the spontaneous

The best literary effect is not secured by having the story retold
immediately after the children have heard it, nor by having them
understand beforehand that it is to be retold as a formal exercise. It
may be brought out of them on some later occasion so as to give it the
air of an independent contribution to the pleasure of the class.
Nothing is more deadly to the atmosphere of a story than the certainty
on the part of the children that they are going to be called upon to
retell it. This should never become a habitual exercise. It helps in a
literary as well as a social way to divide the story in the retelling
among the children according to movements, or even according to
incidents, since this calls attention to its parts and organization.

We may reasonably expect all the poems taught as literature to be
memorized, since it does not take many repetitions of a poem to fix it
in a child's memory. The vocal production of this poem gives the best
opportunity for cultivating the child in voice, in enunciation and
pronunciation. The teacher should not, of course, seem querulous and
exacting in small matters, and it is better to leave a few careless
spots in any one poem than to spoil the children's pleasure in it by too
close criticism; but he can do much to help all the children toward a
distinguished manner of expression. These memorized poems, like the
stories they learn, should not be regarded as formal exercises to be
recited once and be done with. They should be called for from time to
time as contributions to the pleasure of the whole class. Time is
profitably given now and then to a story or verse tournament, a
_sang-fest_, when the whole store of things acquired is brought out and
enjoyed. In the two older classes each child may be required to choose,
prepare, and present to the class a bit of literature. The choice and
preparation must be done in consultation with the teacher; the
presentation to the class regarded as a contribution to their artistic
experience and accepted without criticism.

Paraphrasing is a process of doubtful value. It is never possible to
express the precise meaning or mood in other words, and in the case of
verse it serves to destroy the sense of inviolability of form that one
would desire to develop and deepen. The direction, "State the same
thought in other words," should never be given. To one delicately alive
to the value of words and the shades of thought, it is a mere
contradiction in terms. The same may be said of the practice of getting
the children to substitute synonyms; in literature, especially in
poetry, there can be no true synonyms, and no precisely synonymous

Many pleasant experiments are to be made in connecting some of the
handwork of the youngest children with their literature. The attempt to
realize some of their images in actual stuff constitutes an artistic
experiment that has its literary reverberations, and helps to deepen
the association. Let them make a cloak for _Little Red Riding-Hood_, a
fairies' coach of a nut shell, a boat, a tent--or whatever little object
or property is imbedded in the story. Out of practically every story,
and out of many of the poems, they get an inspiration for a picture or a
bit of modeling. Such associations with literature are legitimate and
natural. This appears very clear when we reflect that we are hoping to
cultivate the taste and imagination of the children, and to teach them
to love human life, with all that this implies, as well as to drill them
in language, grammar, and writing.

It seems necessary to handle aspects of the problem of language and
writing in connection with literature in several different places, as we
come upon the topic from different points of view. As has been said
before, it is the duty of the teacher of literature, and of the lessons
in literature, to help along the work in the language arts. It is even
fair to assume that the children will take more interest in their
composition lessons, and will get more profit out of them, when they are
attached to something they have done in literature; but this is because
they get out of literature more impulse toward creation, and more
inspiration toward a beautiful and striking manner of expression. But
composition is not merely a medium of creative expression; it is a
means of plain communication, and should be developed in both directions
and from both sources. This means that the children should write in
connection with all their subjects, so that they do not, on the one
hand, associate "English" and writing with literature only, and do not,
on the other hand, run the risk of forming no style but a literary

It is certainly true that we disquiet ourselves and persecute the
children unnecessarily concerning the whole matter of writing during the
elementary period. The children scarcely acquire the process of writing
as a manual thing in the first four years. During the next four by good
luck and much toil, most of them manage to reduce it to the stage of a
tool. Their consciousness of the process added to their consciousness of
their spelling and grammar, leaves them little freedom in using the
written composition as an avenue of spontaneous expression. Add to this
the fact that a large part of this period--the period of ten to
fourteen--is the beginning of the great reticence. They are not telling
what they know or feel; they have narrowed their vocabulary down to the
absolutely necessary terms; they have seen through every device by which
the teacher seeks to get them to express themselves. Their written
compositions will be, therefore, dogged exercises, and should be
connected, as far as possible, with colorless information subjects.
There are exceptional children and exceptional classes, indeed, to whom
these generalizations do not apply. We have all heard of classes in
distant elementary schools which "loved" to write.

But there will of necessity be a certain amount of composition that will
fall in with the work in literature, and will constitute one of the
logical returns we ask of the children. This the teacher would like to
have as spontaneous and as literary as possible. In general, we should
like it to be creative, and not critical or reproductive. We would
encourage them to devise new adventures of Odysseus, or of Robin Hood,
to give an experience of their own organized into a genuine story, an
interpretation and effective description of some incident or event that
has interested them or been invented by them. It is necessary, if you
expect to get anything literary or creative out of them, to help to put
them in the creative and literary mood. Talk over with them the thing
they mean to do; see that they have the vocabulary they will obviously
need; enlarge their range of comparison and allusion by discussion; lead
them to divide their material into suitable parts with some acceptable
sequence; enrich their topics by kindred material; guide them into the
observation and interpretation of material in the imaginative and
literary way.

Some aspects of this process are illustrated in the following
experience: A teacher had been reading Howard Pyle's _Robin Hood_, with
occasionally one of the original ballads interspersed (but not the
traditional "Robin Hood and the Potter"), for three months; the children
had also memorized during the same time three short lyrics; and in every
lesson there had been discussions; the time had come when they must make
something. They decided to follow the plan of their book and tell how
Robin Hood added a new member to his band. These children were making
pottery by way of handwork, and had lately had an interesting visit to
see a potter working with his wheel. So the suggestion naturally made by
some member of the class, that the new member of Robin Hood's band be a
potter, was received with instant favor. The teacher read them "Peter
Bell," and their hero promptly became a peddler-potter--the very same,
suggested an agile child, whom Tom, the Piper's son, found beating his
ass, and upon whom he played the merry trick. By this time the class
could be restrained no longer. They climbed over one another's
shoulders, literally and figuratively, with eager suggestions and
copious details. After discussing the plan long enough to suggest an
organization of the material into three natural parts, the children were
set to work. The orderly and patient children produced satisfactory
stories, abundant in material and beautiful in detail. All the others
produced stories which, however disorderly and careless, were breathless
with feeling and overflowing with stuff. Some of them adopted Tom, the
Piper's son, as the new member of the band, not being able to forgive
the potter for beating the ass; some adopted them both; others, only the
Potter, duly lessoned and converted; all provided for the donkey. When
they were aroused and provided, there was a spontaneous outflow of what
was in every case, allowing for the varying temperaments and
acquirements of the children, a really literary production.

As long as the children are seriously hampered with the mechanics of
writing, they should be allowed to dictate their work, when any
practical plan can be devised for this. When the class is not too large,
they should be taught to make a co-operative product, the teacher taking
down what they agree upon, revising it to suit them. In the case of the
older children these spontaneous and "literary" productions should not
be too minutely criticized, and the revising and rewriting of them
should not become a matter of drudgery. They should have other and more
colorless written work upon which they may be drilled, lest the drill
should kill their creative impulse or spoil their pleasure in the
created product. Their more important productions may be filed and given
back to them six months later for their own correction. This critical
review of their own work is generally an occasion of much pride, and the
acquisition of some wholesome self-knowledge.

It is possible that this attempt to distinguish literary writing from
other composition may convey the impression that literature and literary
production are set off, quite apart from life, and the children's other
experiences and interests. This would be a misfortune. Whenever any
aspect of their lives, their work, or their play appeals to their
emotions and their imaginations, when they are provided with a large
vocabulary and have opened for them avenues of comparison, they will
turn back a literary product. But it is seldom desirable to create this
atmosphere in connection with their other studies, and the literary
style and method is not a desirable one for all subjects.

For the sake of the practice in writing and composing, and for the sake
of acquiring ease in telling in writing what they know or desire to
communicate, the children may write something every day. But not oftener
than once in six weeks can we build up in a class the atmosphere,
furnish the material, and bring up the enthusiasm for the production of
something worth while in a literary way--story, essay, play, or poem.

To set the elementary child, or even the high-school scholar, tasks of
investigating in literature, as if he were a little college student is a
serious mistake; or to set for him themes which call for such opinions
and judgments as could be safely given only by a mature person. For
instance, to ask the eighth grade in the average school to write a
character-sketch of Shylock is to make a bid for insincerity and
unfounded judgment. But satisfactory results may be obtained by giving
the children a simple syllabus of questions and suggestions, indicating
quite suitable problems for them to work at in their out-of-school
reading; this little syllabus is then made the basis of class
discussion, and parts of it finally, of written work. It requires some
skill to make such a syllabus, since it must not be made up of leading
questions nor of tediously detailed suggestions, neither must it attempt
to exhaust the material; but must be calculated to stimulate the
children to observe and to think, and must be designed to guide them
into those aspects of the story, play or poem that they may suitably
and profitably consider. Such a guide should be placed in the hands of
young students including secondary children, whenever they are studying
a mature and complex masterpiece.

The dramatization and acting of any bit of literature that yields to
this process is in many ways the most satisfactory return we can ask. In
a previous chapter much has been said about the various dramatic
settings and accompaniments of literature. From the treatment of rhymes
and jingles as suggestions for games and plays, on through the genuine
dramatization of a story, to the presentation of _The Merchant of
Venice_ or some other developed literary drama, the teacher should
forward as much as possible this mode of calling out the children. They
must, of course, be guided by the teacher in the choice of a story for
dramatization, seeking one that has clearly marked movements, some
distinct events, a pretty well-rounded plot, occasion for dialogue, and
other dramatic possibilities. The class may early be guided to the
division of the story into its natural acts and scenes, which implies
the omission of superfluous incidents and details. The difficulty comes
in the supplying of the actual dialogue. The resourceful teacher will
secure this dialogue by various means; for some of the scenes it will
flow off without effort from the class in lesson assembled, one child
suggesting a remark, another the reply, these being recorded and
criticized by the class. For certain other scenes the dialogue may be
prepared by groups of two or more children working apart from the class.
For certain crucial and lofty scenes the teacher should make the "book."
The whole must be submitted for discussion in the class, and may in the
end call for considerable revision from the teacher; for the younger
children cannot be expected to know and to meet the demands of dramatic
dialogue--it must not only be speech, and fairly good as conversation,
but it must forward the play with every sentence. Of course, this
revision must never be so sweeping as radically to remake the play, or
even to alter the essential character that the children have given it,
no matter how crude it may seem to the teacher and to other mature
persons who hear it. Let it stand as a bit of child-art, just as we
rejoice to let crude productions stand as folk-art.

Of course, when the older children present a literary play or any part
of it, they must memorize and give it conscientiously as it is written.
Indeed, the rendering with understanding and appreciation, of whatever
they have learned of good and beautiful literature is, after all, the
most satisfactory and natural return. If even in high school we asked
this of the children, instead of those themes of crude or stale literary
criticism which we all too often get, great would be the gain in
freshness, in sincerity, in appreciation, and in ultimate taste.

If we accustom the children to it from the beginning, and never intimate
to them that it is difficult, it is about as easy to get verse out of
them as prose. This is particularly true if the exercise is a social or
co-operative one, in which the whole class unites to produce the ballad
or the song. What the single child could not accomplish, the group does
with perfect ease. And when the poem is done, nobody can tell who
suggested this rhyme, this word, this whole line; but the whole is a
product of which each child is proud, though he alone could never have
compassed it. The communal story, ballad, song, or play is a unique and
interesting performance, and any teacher who has ever assisted in making
it feels sure that he has seen far into the social possibilities of art
and the philosophy of literature. Every teacher must devise his own plan
of getting this co-operative, communal, social bit of literature made,
but every teacher of literature should try it.

All this, of course, has to do with the immediate practical return from
the studies in literature. Concerning the ultimate, distant return we
cannot speak in terms of teaching and learning. Art is long; like the
human child, being destined to a long and vicissitudinous life, it had a
long childhood; and this is true of its growth in each individual as of
its growth in the race. So far as regards many of the most desired
results of literature, we can but sow the seed, and wait years for the
bloom--a lifetime, maybe, for the fruit. But though we may not reach a
hand through all the years to grasp the far-off interest of our toil, we
have every reason to believe that the harvest will be fair.



The term "correlation" is not to be used in this chapter in the
specialized and technical sense that it has taken on in pedagogical
discussion. It will be used, with apologies, to designate all
connections of literature with any other subject or discipline in the
elementary curriculum.

No one interested in education can have failed to notice the fact that
the doctrines of concentration, correlation, condensation, by whatever
name called or under whatever aspect approached, have undergone many
modifications and shifts of emphasis. Like every other educational
doctrine that has much of the truth in it, it was welcomed in the early
days of its promulgation as the final solution, and seemed for a time to
sweep out of existence, or into its own radius, every other theory or

One is obliged to wonder if educational people are peculiarly liable to
be caught by a formula or an apparently axiomatic statement, build
everything upon it, and silence every question by a reverential appeal
to it. Such seemed to be the attitude toward the doctrine of correlation
when it first sifted down from the savants to the actual teachers in
the actual schools; and many and monumental were the follies committed
in the name of this pedagogical religion. Modified and adapted under
actual practical conditions, and criticized by the present generation of
educational philosophers, it has come down to the school of today--that
is to say, the school that is sensitive enough and free enough to
respond quickly to new thinking--as, on the one hand, a protest against
isolation and abstraction, and on the other hand, an appeal for such a
conservation of the unity and naturalness of the child's consciousness
as is consistent with the natural and legitimate use of material. In its
present form the doctrine no longer justifies the violent wresting of
subjects and topics from their natural settings, to be fitted together
in some merely logical and theoretical system of instruction.

In the days of determined and thoroughgoing correlation no department of
discipline suffered more than the arts; and none of the other arts
suffered as did literature. This is not difficult to account for. Music
and painting are quite professedly and obviously unconcerned with
subject-matter--are, as a rule, entirely empty of definite intellectual
content. But literature has ideas, it embodies concrete images,
mentions specific objects, reflects experience, and sometimes even uses
actual persons and historical events; above all, it employs the same
medium of expression as the other subjects. All these matters made
literature the peculiar prey of the ardent correlationists; to each or
any, perhaps to all, of these phenomena in literature they could attach
bodies of teaching in technical subjects, and systems of discipline in
formal training.

The case was equally bad when literature was constituted the center of
the scheme, and when it was attached to a scheme having some other
center--geography, for example, or history. For in the first case it was
altogether likely that some detail or aspect of the piece of literature,
merely subsidiary in the literature, would be selected for emphasis and
elevated into the correlating detail; the background or setting would be
taken out for study and elaboration, crowding the action, the human and
really literary elements, out of sight. As, for example--and it is an
authentic example of a scheme of correlation--the first-grade children
are given as the center of their work _The Old Woman Who Found the
Sixpence_; from this story we take out the dog, which we study as the
type of _digitigrade carnivora_. Or--again an authentic example--having
read to the first grade _The Musicians of Bremen_, as one of them
happens to be a donkey, we seize the opportunity to teach in detail and
over several weeks of time, the physical peculiarities of the donkey and
his kinsman the horse, among many exercises drawing out of the children
some speculation or information as to how much water or hay the horse
consumes; to which hook we attach instruction as to weights and
measures; and so on into the remote fringes of information about objects
and persons used in the story only in the literary way.

In the second case, that in which literature is attached to some other
center, in feeling about for some bit of literature to fit into a
geographical fact, a meteorological condition, or a historical event,
the teacher was quite likely to hit upon a third- or fourth-rate
specimen, unsuitable for his children in other respects, and in teaching
it he was likely to force from it a meaning and an emphasis that as
literature it would not bear; as, when the children were studying the
migration of birds, he taught them Bryant's "To a Waterfowl,"
emphasizing the migration and ignoring the true emphasis of the
poem--the lesson of a guiding providence; or as, _apropos_ of December
weather, he set the fifth grade to reading Whittier's slow-moving,
meditative, and much too mature "Snow-Bound."

As a matter of fact, no art yields kindly to any method of adjustment
to other subjects that emphasizes the subject-matter or information
material that may perchance be involved in the art. Information-giving
is not the method nor the mission of art; the four, or five arts if we
include acting, with which we may have to do in elementary discipline
combine and play into one another without difficulty. It is not
necessary to speak again of the close and easy association of literature
with all the forms of acting that the children have, from marching,
dancing, and simple gesture, on to the acting required in an organized
drama. On the musical side, particularly the verse-form of literature,
it combines most acceptably with music. A great many of the lyrics that
are simple enough for the children to learn, and many of the verses that
they write, are also adaptable as songs to be sung. And even when they
cannot be set to melodies they share, in their spoken form, with the
actual musical notes, in the training of the ear. The exercises in
drawing, painting, and modeling co-operate to fine advantage for the
objectifying of the visual images, of which the children get so large a
store from literature. As a matter of fact, when the children are set
the task of objectifying an inner image, it is most likely to be some
figure or scene from literature that comes up for expression--Nausicaa
throwing the ball, Robin Hood stringing his bow, Siegfried tempering his
sword, Paul Revere mounting his horse, the lodge of old Nokomis. This is
because the images and pictures they find in literature retain in the
minds of the children the glow of imagination, the warmth of emotion,
the vitality of a remembered joy. And it is true, as every teacher knows
who has taught it aright, that a bit of literature arouses in the
children a mood of creative imagination such as no other subject ever
can awaken. This mood of imaginative creation instinctively expresses
itself in literary composition, in drawing, painting, designing,
modeling, acting, or music.

On the very surface of the problem of the correlations of literature
lies the somewhat difficult question of the relation of the children's
literature to their lessons in reading--as regards both their beginning
to read and their later practice in reading. It remains true that with
all our experimenting and in spite of all the enthusiasm we can muster,
to the majority of children and in the hands of most teachers the
mechanics of learning to read is drudgery. This drudgery literature
should share with the other subjects in its due proportion. One would
not ignore the fact that this "due proportion" may be very
large--larger than that of any other subject. It is quite legitimate to
employ the charm and interest of literature in the service of reading;
and it would be a serious misfortune for the children to learn their
reading entirely through the medium of colorless fact. We have agreed
that there is such a thing as literary reading, different in many ways
from the reading of history or science. Even the younger children can
feel this, and can produce it if correctly guided. But they should not
always be doing literary reading; they should acquire the colorless but
good style of merely intellectual reading. This they will not do if in
their early reading exercises they are given more than their due
proportion of literature.

It is undoubtedly wise to make upon the teacher and the children the
impression that reading is a tool, a key--perhaps we would better call
it a gate through which one gets at many things--the joys and rewards of
literature, to be sure, but also the images of history, the facts of
nature, the details of handicraft. A reading-book, or any system of
reading-lessons that contains nothing but literature is therefore a

From another point of view it is a misfortune to identify the
reading-lessons with literature. As has been said more than once in
these chapters, the alert teacher of our day is eager to emancipate
literature again from its bondage to the printed page, and to set free
once more its function as a truly social art; making it also once more a
matter of the listening ear and the living voice.

To identify the reading-lessons of the younger children with their
literature lessons is to keep them at things much too immature, and to
retard their mental and artistic growth. They can apprehend and
appreciate many things that they cannot read. It is a commonplace that a
child's listening vocabulary is far in advance of his reading
vocabulary, no matter how or how early he learns to read. Of course,
this is the secret of the revolt against book-reading of the children
who learn to read late--the simplicity of the thought and expression in
the matter they are mechanically able to read, makes it unacceptable to
them intellectually. It is in the literature received by his ear that a
child grows and exercises his maturer powers. The older children should
be taught and exercised in literary reading, the simple interpretative
reading of their literature. The best results in this most profitable
aspect of the teaching of literature can be obtained in the secondary
period, when the children are expert enough as readers to think while
they read, and when their voices are, as mere mechanical organs, more
completely under control.

The objections to the association of drill in writing, in spelling, in
grammar, and in compositions are of like kind. It may be granted that
there is something in the fact that literature represents the most
effective use of language, and is, all things considered, the most
interesting kind of writing. Still this does not constitute a sufficient
reason why the burden, and in all too many cases the odium, of teaching
these things should attach to literature. It is a perfidious breaking of
the promise of literature, or of any art, which should keep as much as
possible of the atmosphere of play. Of course, drill in language and in
written expression should be attached to every subject in the elementary
curriculum; and this not only for the sake of relieving the literature
from a burden of unattractive tasks, but because of the fact that the
literary style and vocabulary are not good for all subjects and
purposes, and the children should not be trained exclusively in these.
On the large scale of things, it is a pity at any stage of the child's
education to identify "English" with literature, since there is and
should be so much English that is not literature, and so much literature
that is not English.

One of the pleasantest and most profitable co-operations of literature
is with the training in languages other than the vernacular. In those
elementary classes where the children have instruction in either German
or French--or, for the matter of that, in Spanish or Italian--every
effort should be made in their use of story and verse to secure the
characteristic and universal literary effect. The German lyric has all
the beauty of music and of image that the English has; the French
fairy-play has most of elements of dramatic art that the children could
use in English translation.

A few of the fallacies of correlation, or mere co-relation, of
literature with other aspects of the children's school experience are

The fallacy of setting out to teach children the love of home, or
country, or nature, or animals, by teaching them literature that
expresses or reflects those emotions.

The love of one's own country must be in our day a thing of slow and
gradual growth. Our feelings about our country should arise out of our
knowledge of the heroic things in her history, out of the noble plans
for her growth, out of the generous things she provides for her children
and the children of other lands. Out of this or some such basis arises
the emotion of patriotism, a poem or a story which reflects this emotion
has some such back-ground by implication. To hunt about for a poem or
story which teaches patriotism is a putting of the cart before the
horse. First arouse in your children the emotion--an original personal
emotion of their own, growing out of the legitimate background; then, if
perchance you are so fortunate as to find a poem or a story which also
reflects this emotion, and which is at the same time good as art, you
are so much the richer. The children will find their own feeling
reinforced and nobly expressed, and consequently deepened and dignified.

The same thing is true as to the love of animals. If the children have
the literature first, or only the literature, they may have only a
second-hand and perfunctory love of the beasts. But first give your
grade a dog, or a cat, or a canary; or give your child in the country a
pony, or a lamb, or a pig; that they may feel at first hand the throb of
dramatic brotherhood, of humorous kinship, that constitutes love of
animals. Then, when, judging by the proper canons that test good
literature, you find a piece that reflects and deepens this, it is so
much pure gain.

The same thing is true of nature. The children should have many things
that reflect feelings about nature and natural phenomena, and that give
the interpretations which great and gifted artists have made of these
things. But one should no more go to literature for creating first-hand
love of nature than he would go to the same source for facts about any
specific phenomenon in nature. Of course, this is not saying that we
demand that a child shall have had a previous experience of every image
and phenomenon of nature that is presented to him in literature. Indeed,
we expect literature to complement and supplement life in the matter of
imagery; to deepen and to arouse experience in the matter of emotion.
But the fallacy lies in choosing literature on this ground, and in
depending upon literature to create at first hand what is, and should
be, an extra-literary feeling. Now, from time to time there comes the
teacher's way one of those rare chances when he finds the time, the
place, and the poem all together, as when on some March day of thaw he
can teach "The cock is crowing," of Wordsworth; on the first morning of
hoar-frost he can read "The Frost;" on another day, "The Wind"--the
things that harmonize with the spirit of an experience.

Another of the fallacies of correlation is the determined, if not
violent, association of the work in literature with the festivals. As a
matter of fact, there is not much more than time in certain schools to
teach the younger children the things they are expected to know about
Thanksgiving, Christmas, Washington's birthday, Easter, June. The work
for the next celebration begins just as soon as the foregoing one is
past. The partitioning of the year into these very emphatic sections,
and the carrying of the children through the same round year after year,
are questions too general to be treated here. But we are interested in
the fact that in most cases the specimens of literature that can be
considered applicable to the festivals would never be chosen from out
the world of things for their absolute value as literature, nor for
their peculiar suitability for the children. So it comes about that the
children--the younger classes, at least--spend as much as two-thirds of
their time at second- or third-rate specimens of literature.

There is not much reason for protesting in our day against that species
of correlating literature with something else which consists in teaching
in connection with this literature things that the children ought to
know later, regardless of their immediate fitness or acceptability; as
for example the facts of Greek mythology, the characters and plots of
Shakespeare's plays; we can never be too grateful for that
interpretation of childhood and of education which has made this
hereafter impossible. At the same time, if we choose wisely now, choose
in the light of our best knowledge, the children will be glad all their
lives to know the things we choose for them.

The connection of literature with history is a many-sided question, and
is not easily disposed of. As a matter of fact, the partnership between
history and literature, so vaguely asserted and so complaisantly
accepted in many quarters, is a combination in which the literature has
usually gone to the wall. Indeed, the practical adjustment of history
and literature wavers about between two equally fallacious schemes. One
of these is to give the children the literature produced by the nation
whose history they are studying; as for example, the Homeric poems when
they study the history of Greece, that they may imbibe the true Greek
spirit from the poems. Now, children of elementary age cannot
distinguish, or even unconsciously feel, a national spirit in a poem. It
is the broadly human, the universally true, elements and spirit that
they feel. Besides, the Greek national spirit, the spirit of the
characteristic Greek period, was not Homeric, and the literature of the
characteristic Greek period would never do for the elementary children.
In the case of Greek literature one cannot unreservedly demur because
the Homeric poems are never bad for the children. But the same
principle applied to other nations and their literature may bring

The other scheme for relating history and literature is to choose the
literature on the basis of the fact that it deals with some person or
event or period with which the history is concerned; as, when we have a
class in the history of the Plymouth colony, we give them Longfellow's
"The Courtship of Miles Standish" for literature, which, except for one
or two picturesque scenes, one would never choose as literature for
young children; and as, when we study the American Revolution, we give
them as literature some mature and sentimental modern novel, or some
sensational and untrustworthy juvenile, choosing these merely because
they profess to incorporate events connected with the historical period.

The whole matter of the historical romance is important and
complicated--too complicated and involving too many critical principles
to be handled here. It must be sufficient to say in this connection what
is sufficiently obvious to any thoughtful critic--that he who takes up
and handles legitimately and justly an epoch, an event, or a group of
historical persons, and at the same time produces good literature, is a
master and produces a masterpiece--much too mature and developed for
elementary children. Only Scott possessed the faculty of keeping
generally in sight of his history, or of segregating it in an occasional
_longeur_, and adding to it a rattling good story. But Scott is too
mature and complex for elementary children up to the very oldest, and
they are not likely to be studying the periods in history that
interested him.

No, the kinship between history and literature, and the co-operations
between them in the children's experience, are not of this external and
artificial kind. It is for the mature and philosophical student to study
literature as a culture product--its relation to the country and the
times that produced it. It is for much older students to read the great
romances, like Tolstoy's _War and Peace_, that adequately mirror an
epoch or an epoch-making event.

For the children there is a deeper spiritual kinship between history and
literature. It has to do with the personal and dramatic side, the
biography and adventure of history. It lies in the spirit and atmosphere
of human achievement, in the identity of the motives that express
themselves in literature and in actual accomplishment. When we study the
pioneer and the colonist--the born and doomed colonist--we find his
kinsman and prototype in Robinson Crusoe. When we study the Revolution,
the revolt against unjust laws, the protest of democracy against
class-oppression, we find the spirit of Robin Hood.

I hasten to disclaim any intention of advising these particular
combinations. The examples should merely serve to make clear certain
aspects of the kinship of spirit between literature and history. Of
course one does now and again, and as it were, by special grace, find a
story or a poem--like the "Concord Hymn," or "Marion's Men," or "The
Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers"--precisely _apropos_ of his event and
beautifully adapted to his literary needs. And one often comes upon a
historical document--like _The Oregon Trail_ or _The Autobiography of
Benjamin Franklin_--so picturesque and concrete, so observant of effects
of unity and harmony, so full of appeals to the imagination, and so
effective in verbal expression, as to yield many of the effects of

In spite of all protests against forced and mistaken associations of
literature with other subjects in school, we must constantly insist that
it is no isolated thing, detached from life. On the contrary, literature
arises out of life, and is always arising out of it and reacting upon
it. It is effective and practically operative in a child's life
precisely because it, too, is life. It is closer, therefore, to his
business and bosom than any item or system of knowledge could be. It is
not to disturb its trustworthiness and value to say that it does not
primarily convey information and cannot be called upon to deliver facts.
It does render truth and wisdom, the summary and essence of fact and
knowledge. It does not destroy its educational value to say that we
shall search it in vain for a body or a system of organized discipline;
for, since it is art, it disciplines while it charms and teaches us
while it sets us free.

The natural correlations of literature are with the other arts, but,
above all, with the spirit of childhood, and with the consciousness of
children; with the tone and spirit of their other work, rather than with
its actual subject-matter.



Were it not for appearing captious or extravagant, one would like to say
that in these days of cheap and easy books, and amidst the temptations
of the free libraries, the problem is that of keeping the children from
reading too much, rather than of inducing them to read enough. This is
particularly true of children in our large American cities, whom we
must, in our first generation of city-dwelling, guard against
eye-strain, and nerve-strain, and library-air, and physical inactivity
of all sorts. Luckily, our generation has learned some things about the
educational processes that have tended to lessen materially the danger
of over-reading. In many homes, and to many children out of school,
books and magazines have hitherto been a sort of opiate, from the point
of view of the child deadening the hungry sensibilities and lulling the
stifled activities; and from the point of view of the parent securing
silence and providing an apparently innocuous occupation. This is all
too little changed now, though more and more homes are providing
opportunity and encouragement for other occupations: shop and studio,
and more abundant material and opportunity for play. In the cities the
public playgrounds and gymnasiums--and all too rarely the public
workshop and studio for children--begin to share with the public library
the task of safely taking care of the children out of school.

But there will always be time for reading, and by all means the
legitimate share of the children's time should be given to it. The
so-called supplementary reading given them by the school is largely, I
take it, a question of the much reading that will make the process
easier, and not a matter of accumulating facts, or of acquiring a wider
knowledge of literature. In many schools that I have observed it is
often unwisely and carelessly chosen, so far as the literary share of it
is concerned. It should be selected partly for its bearing upon the
fact-studies, and not wholly made up of things of the literary kind. The
bearings of the question of the school's supplementary reading are not
literary, or, so far as they are, they have been discussed in other

Every child should ideally have free access to a collection of books got
together with reference to his needs and tastes. It may be serviceable
to indicate the kind and number of books that might be included in such
a library of a child up to his fourteenth year.

There should be in such a collection several biographies. On the whole,
let them be of the older, idealizing type, not of the modern young
university instructor's virtuously iconoclastic type. Children get at
their history first through heroic and dramatic figures and events. In
their earlier years it is the imagination that appropriates the images
and events of history. It is therefore only good pedagogy to present the
figures on their heroic and ideal side. Let these biographies include
the record of different sorts of men--a statesman, a pioneer, a
preacher, a soldier, an explorer, an inventor, a missionary, a business
man, a man of letters--so that many types of character and kinds of
experience may be reflected.

As the children grow older, they will dip into history for the
images--the persons and detachable events. The search for facts and
philosophy will come many years later. Some tempting books of history
should appear on their shelves; _The Dutch Republic_, _The Conquest of
Mexico_, Parkman's romantic narratives, and John Fiske's; if possible
the illustrated edition of _Green's History of the English People_. Most
of the history they get from their own reading, however, should be what
they get from the biographies of the central figures in the
events--Columbus, William of Orange, Francis Drake, and all the other
picturesque and heroic persons. Other historical reading would best be
done under guidance and in connection with the work in school.

There should be a few books of travel and exploration. Among these there
should be some of the original sources, if possible the _Bradford
Journal_, the _Jesuit Relations_, the _Lewis and Clark Journals_.
Froissart and Marco Polo should be included; the fable-making travelers
perform a very useful function. To these may be added a few most recent
explorations--African, Arctic, Andean, Thibetan.

Children, barring the exceptional child, will not read formal science;
but it may develop or help on a desirable taste and interest to have
some of the many pretty out-door books in their collection--not romances
of the wild, but simpler treatises about the things to be found in the
door-yard and the home woodland. And when a child develops a taste or a
gift in any scientific direction, he should have access, as easy as
possible, to some good reference books suited to his needs. All children
should have access to some of the more popular technical and scientific
journals which give interesting accounts of current discoveries and

By way of nature and animal books we will include the _Jungle Books_, an
expurgated edition of _Reynard the Fox_, _Aesop's Fables_, and, of
course, _Uncle Remus_. Other semi-scientific nature-writers will
doubtless appear in most collections of children's books--and may do no

A book of Greek myth seriously and beautifully told should be
accessible. No other myth is so beautiful or so imaginative, or so
artistically put together. The children do not need to have to do with
many myths until they know something about interpreting them. Of course,
they should have access to the Bible in some attractive form. A large
illustrated edition--Doré's or Tissot's--will please and instruct them
from their earliest days. This is one of the cases in which
pictures--good and imaginative pictures--form a desirable gateway into a
realm where the children are not naturally at home, and where they need
the help of a great and serious artist in finding their way. Of course,
poor and materialistic pictures are a misfortune, especially those that
attempt to body forth preternatural events and supernatural beings.
Doré's pictures are not undesirable, because they often help a child to
a noble and imaginative conception of a thing he is himself powerless to
construct; while Tissot's are good because they set forth with beauty
and richness of detail the many phases of life which the child must try
to image in reading the Hebrew stories--from the nomadic simplicity of
the saga of pastoral Abraham to the luxurious refinements of the
Romanized and cosmopolitan Jerusalem.

The little scholar should find on his shelves Lanier's _King Arthur_,
Pyle's _Robin Hood_, Palmer's _Odyssey_, some translation of the
_Iliad_; in short, some form of each of the great hero-tales; a selected
few of Scott's romances--_Ivanhoe_, _Quentin Durward_, _Guy Mannering_,
_Anne of Geierstein_; a few of Cooper's; _Robinson Crusoe_, _Don
Quixote_, William Morris' prose tales, a pair of Quiller-Couch's, and as
many of Joseph Conrad's; these might constitute his romances. But unless
he is a very unusual child, he will never read in these masters, if he
is given masses of cheap and easy reading, such as the Henty books and
the Alger series; or if he finds in his mother's sitting-room a stack of
"the season's best sellers" and the ten-cent magazines. The cheap and
easy style and the commonplace material of this sort of books offer the
line of least resistance to the young reader. They flow into his mind
without effort on his part, while, if he would apprehend the masters,
he must actively co-operate with them at every step, arousing his best
powers to comprehend their expressions and to grasp their ideas. One
would hesitate to say that there is absolutely no use for books of the
Henty and Alger type. One can imagine a child whose every bent was
against reading, being enticed to begin by some such easy and
commonplace experience. And one can imagine their being useful to wean
children away from really vicious books. In a certain boys' club I know,
organized in a social settlement, which was really a reorganization of a
gang, these particular books were for a year or so an acceptable
substitute for the bloody romances they had been reading. Many of those
boys have never passed beyond them; but to many others they were, as was
hoped, stepping-stones to better things. There is no place for them in
the ideal collection of children's books. Certain books, harmless and as
recreation even desirable, will inevitably make their appearance on the
children's shelves--Miss Alcott's, Mrs. Richards', and others of the
many series of girls' books and boys' books; they are doubtless innocent
enough, and to be discouraged only when they keep the children from
something better worth while; to be encouraged, on the other hand, only
for those children who must be tempted by easy reading into any habit of
using books. To be sure, you will probably find that your child has
found one of them, perhaps a whole series, to which for a certain period
she seems to have given her whole heart; but if treated with wisdom this
symptom will disappear, and you will find her at some surprisingly early
day re-reading the tournament at Ashby, and patronizingly alluding to
the time when she was enslaved to "The Little General" series, or the
"Under the Roses" or the "Eight Half-Sisters" series, or any other
particular juveniles, as "when I was a child."

In the matter of fairy-tales one must discriminate and renounce quite
resolutely. It is not good for a child who has early mastered that edged
tool of reading to have access to all fairy-tales and all kinds of
fairy-tales. Eschew all the modern ones. Of course, if you have a
personal friend who has written a book of them, for reasons other than
literary your children will read them. But as to those you choose freely
for them let them have Grimm and Perrault, and the _Arabian Nights_, and
after a while Andersen; which, together with what they will pick up here
and there in magazines and in their friends' houses, will be enough.

For poetry, the child should have on his own shelves some pretty
edition of the _Nursery Rhymes_, _The Child's Garden_, some really good
collection of little things--_The Posy Ring_, for example, Henley's
_Lyra Heroica_, Lang's _The Blue Poetry Book_, Allingham's _Book of
Ballads_. For the rest he should be read to from the poets themselves,
and as soon as he is old enough, sent to the volumes of the poets for
his reading. As in school so at home the children should hear their
poetry read until they acquire some real degree of expertness as
readers. Children who can not understand at all, poetry which they read
silently, will delight in it read aloud.

This little collection should contain the classic nonsense, but not all
kinds of inartistic fooling and rude fun. There should be _Alice in
Wonderland_ and _Through the Looking-Glass_ (always the one with
Tenniel's pictures). We must remember that _Alice_ is very delicate art,
and that its final and deepest appeal is to the mature person. Certain
very imaginative children take to it as a fanciful tale at the moment of
ripeness; others miss it then, and must wait until the wonderful
dream-psychology of it, and the delicate satire of its parodies can make
their appeal to them as older persons. Lear's _Nonsense Rhymes_ in
judicious doses every child should have; "John Gilpin's Ride;" certain
of the _Bab Ballads_; a little of Oliver Heresford's delightful
foolishness. Among the folk- and fairy-tales he will find many comic
bits whose kind or degree of humor will suit him admirably in his
younger years. In Clouston's _Book of Noodles_ may be found a mine of
such funny tales. _The Peterkin Papers_ is the best of modern
noodle-tales. No family can be brought up without the help of _Strewel
Peter_, nor should they miss _Little Black Sambo_. Most American
children are enchanted with the fun of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn though
one must sadly acknowledge that it is woven into back-grounds of a
sensational kind not at all improving to an unformed taste.

One cannot feel that parodies are in general good for children; though,
after they have had a good share of serious enjoyment out of their
fairy-tales, and especially if they seem too much or too long absorbed
in them, they ought to have _The Rose and the Ring_ and _Prince Prigio_.

Picture-books and illustrated books are another independent little
problem. It is a curious fact that it is not the beautiful lithographs
of birds and animals, flocks and landscapes, children in irreproachable
Russian dresses and short socks, seated in the corner of ancestral
mahogany sofas, refreshing themselves from antique silver porringers,
that the little living heads hang over by the hour on the nursery floor.
It is much more likely to be the thunderous landscapes of the old Dutch
woodcuts in Great-grandmama's Bible, the queer, chaotic, symbolistic
plates of the _Mother-Play_; the wonderful prints of Comenius' _Orbis
Pictus_; the casualties of John Leech's hunting fields. True, they
delight in the charming details of all Kate Greenaway's books; and
Walter Crane's pictures so rich in color and beautiful detail give
ceaseless joy; but one must confess that they are a bit inclined to
"shy" at pictures they know to be intended for them. Every nursery that
can compass it should have as many as possible of the books illustrated
in color by Boutet de Monvel. The children should never see comic
illustrations of their nursery rhymes and stories. They are all banal as
wit and trashy as art, substituting an ugly and distorted image for the
possibly beautiful one the child might have made for himself. After they
have passed out of infancy, they do not need pictures in their stories.
The black-and-white print is inadequate when color and movement should
be a part of the image, and children should have the discipline of
relying entirely on themselves in visualizing the images of the text.
There should also be in the "little library," or accessible to the
little readers in the big one, beside the illustrated Bible, the one
big volume of Shakespeare with Gilbert's pictures--an inexhaustible mine
of life and art; Engelmann and Anderson's _Atlas of the Homeric Poems_,
a _Dictionary of Classical Antiquities_, and an encyclopedia that the
older children can use, should have a place on these shelves.

It is so often said as to amount to a mere convention that the best
possible literary experience for a child is to be turned loose to browse
(they always say "browse") in a grown-up library. One always finds a
malicious pleasure in detecting in these people (and they are always to
be found in great plenty) those baby impressions, still uncorrected that
they got of many books in the course of their browsing. Of course, in a
house where there are many books the children will experiment, will
taste of many dishes, and possibly devour many things not intended for
them. From some of these they will take no serious harm, while in many
other cases they will get a permanent warp of judgment or of feeling. It
would seem to me wise to guide the child in his explorations, giving him
plenty of those grown-up things that you believe to be good for him, and
heading him off as long as possible from the others. For all your
caution, however, children will be found buried in _Tom Jones_, mousing
about in Montaigne, chuckling over _Tristram Shandy_, and befuddling
themselves with _Ghosts_ and _Anna Karénina_. In these cases we can only
hope that nature has mercifully ordained that, not having the necessary
apperception experience, they will not get at the real truth of these
books, and that they will have the luck--rare, to be sure--to remove and
correct their mistaken impressions in some subsequent reading.

The ideal co-operation between home, school, Sunday school, and library
is yet to be brought about; teacher and parents can do much to promote
it. As a step toward this co-operation they should provide every child
who reads in a library with a list of books. The imaginative books in
the list given out by the public libraries are practically all
juveniles, apparently chosen mainly for the purpose of amusing children
who have no books in their homes. These things are undoubtedly amusing;
they are superficially appetizing; and they have the same effect that
the soda fountain at the corner drug-shop has upon the children's
appetite for true nourishment--they take the edge off his hunger so that
he has no relish for his bread and butter, though he has had nothing to
eat but a hint of cheap flavor, a dash of formaldehyde, a spoonful of
poor milk, and a glassful of effervescence. The lists given by parents
and teachers may change all this, but only if they include good things,
beautiful and interesting enough to make these wasteful juveniles seem

Every schoolroom in which the children are old enough to be interested,
and every family should devise a method of digesting the news of the
world every day or every week, so that the children may have some
knowledge of current events. Of course, there are children who cannot be
kept from reading the morning paper--crimes, sports, and all. Such a
child's family should choose its newspaper with all possible care Every
self-respecting family where there are children should be willing to
submit to the very small sacrifice of foregoing the Sunday paper, to
save the little people from the flood of commonplace, of triviality, and
of ribaldry that overwhelms them from these monstrous productions.

Perhaps no well-brought-up child would be quite well equipped if he has
not had _The Youth's Companion_ and _St. Nicholas_ in his childhood; but
it is a mistake to let them linger too long in these periodicals, whose
contents are somewhat fragmentary as literature, and not quite large
enough or full enough as to current events and interests. It is wise to
turn the children as soon as possible to the mature and more thorough
magazines, among which should be included a technical and scientific
journal. By all means do not subject them to the temptation of the
various story-magazines--those cheap and easy chronicles of the
questionable affairs of undergraduates and chorus girls, of Nietzschean
superhumanity gone to seed, of imitations of the imitated psychology of
the wild, all rendered in the English of third-year college themes. If
the adult members of the family must have these things, let them be
kept, along with "the season's best sellers," out of easy reach of the

It should not need to be said that there has been no attempt in the
foregoing discussion to recommend every good thing, or to give an
exhaustive list of such things in any one line; no more has there been
an effort to give warning of all things undesirable, but merely, as in
the whole book, to state the underlying principles of choice, with just
enough specific examples to make clear their application.



The list of titles in literature given below must be taken as free
suggestion, not at all as dogmatic requirement; least of all should it
be regarded as an exhaustive and definitive programme. Throughout this
little book there has been a deliberate effort to mention no more
examples and specimens than would serve to support and illustrate the
principles stated or the theories advanced, so as to keep out of it the
wearing atmosphere of interminable lists, and to leave those who might
accept the doctrines quite free to apply them in the selection of their
own specimens. So now in the plan appended the titles have been
carefully sifted and resolutely limited. It should not be necessary to
say that it is not intended that all the specimens mentioned in any one
year should be given within that year in every school--perhaps in any
school; or that they should necessarily be given in the year to which
they are here assigned. They are rather designed to indicate the kind of
thing one would choose for the average classes in the average school,
and to suggest things that go well together. I have even ventured to
hope that those who read the book will also take the pains to read all
the specimens mentioned in the programme, so as to catch their spirit
and atmosphere, and after that choose quite freely for themselves these
or other titles. The field of choice is especially wide among the
folk-tales; all those mentioned are good, and suitable for the places in
which they are put. But there are others good and suitable, which may,
indeed, better satisfy the needs of some special teacher or class. In
some schools, no doubt, it will be well to give a third year of
folk-tales and simple lyrics before beginning the hero-tales. In that
case the whole course would be pushed along a year, making for the last
or eighth year a combination of bits taken from the seventh and eighth
years suggested here. The course is planned for a school whose children
go on into high school; though one can see little reason for a different
course in literature for those children who stop with a grammar-school
education. What we covet for such children is not knowledge of much
literature, nor knowledge of any literature in particular, but a taste
for wholesome books and some trustworthy habits of reading. These
results are best secured when a few suitable and beautiful things have
been lovingly taught and joyfully apprehended. Children thus provided
will keep on reading; if they have been really fed on _Julius Caesar_ or
_The Tempest_ they will hunger for more Shakespeare; if they have taken
delight in _Treasure Island_ they will pursue Stevenson and find Scott
and Cooper. The chances for implanting in them some living and abiding
love of books are much better if we teach them in school the things they
may easily master and completely contain, than if we try to supply them
with what only an adult reader can expect to appropriate, which
therefore takes on the character of a task, or remains in their minds a
mere chaotic mass.

The plan of the course is simple and obvious enough. Indeed, the main
idea is first of all merely that of putting into each year such things
as will delight and train a child of that age in literary ways. With
this is joined the equally simple and reasonable purpose of giving in
each year an acceptable variety looking toward the development of a
generous taste--a story, a heroic poem, a musical lyric or two, a bit of
fun, a group of fables. Throughout the programme there has been a
conscious attempt to use things every teacher knows or may very easily
find, and of associating things that harmonize in spirit.

For the first two years the folk-tales form the core of the course. To
the folk-tales is joined a group of simple lyrics, many of them the more
formal and expressive of the traditionary rhymes. As a matter of course,
in a school where these first- and second-year children have not already
had in kindergarten or in the home nursery the simpler rhymes and
jingles--"Little Boy Blue," "Jack Horner," "There Was a Man in Our
Town"--they should be taught.

In the third year _Robinson Crusoe_ constitutes the large core. As
suggested in another chapter it is well to treat this story as if it
were a cycle, taking it in episodes, and interweaving with it other bits
of literature which harmonize with it, either reinforcing it or
counteracting it. It may easily happen that a teacher would select a
quite different group of poems for study along with _Robinson Crusoe_,
according as he emphasized some other aspect of the story and according
to the maturity of his children. This programme assumes a pretty mature
third-year group. It may be in many schools well to transfer, as I have
suggested, this whole arrangement to the fourth year.

The fifth- and sixth-year work is arranged upon a similar plan--that of
constituting a story or a story-cycle the center of the work, and
associating with it shorter and supplementary bits. While the poems in
both cases are such as harmonize in subject or idea with aspects of the
two stories that will inevitably appear in the teaching, they have not
been chosen solely from that point of view; they are also in every case
beautiful as detached poems, and ideally, at least, suitable for the
children. Every experienced teacher will have other verses and stories
in mind which may be added to those given or substituted for them. Some
of them will be useful, not as class studies necessarily, but as a part
of that "reserve stock" that every teacher has, from which he draws from
time to time something to read to his class which they are not

In the programme for the sixth year an alternative is suggested. Many
teachers will find enough in the _Arthur_ stories to form the core of
the literature for the year. Others will find material for the whole
year's stories in the Norwegian and Icelandic sagas. Many will not like
the suggestion of giving the antidote of the chivalric romances--_Don
Quixote_. Many will prefer to drop hero-tales and romances in favor of
more modern stories. Such a group of stories is suggested introducing
the stories that call for interpretation, and the apprehending of a
secondary meaning. This paves the way for the stories of the seventh
year which call for some genuine literary interpretation. In the seventh
year programme the two dramatic bits of Yeats's are suggested, not only
because they are charming in themselves, and are in charming artistic
contrast, but because they can easily be staged and acted, and are full
of suggestion of the kind of thing the children can do themselves. _The
Pot of Broth_ is the dramatization of a well-known folk-droll, and _The
Hour-Glass_ is a morality calling for no complexity of dialogue, of
staging, or of dramatic motive--the kind of play the children can most
easily produce both as literature and as acting.

As suggested in a previous chapter, during this and the following year
each child should be encouraged or required to learn a poem or a story
of his own choosing, which he presents to the class. This will greatly
enrich the class programme. Only one fable is suggested--one of
Fontaine's, the interpretation or moral of which should now be given by
the class; many other fables may be used in the same way, if this
exercise seems to be profitable.

As every observer of schools knows, it is the eighth-year children who
need most accommodation and understanding. The programme offered is
designed for the normal class in the average school--when the children
are really passing into the secondary stage and should be preparing to
go into high school without crossing a chasm. But it may need much
modification for those eighth-year classes in which there are belated
children and unevenly developed children. It is quite possible that
_Julius Caesar_, _The Tempest_, and _Sohrab and Rustum_ may prove
impracticable for such a class, and that something easier would have to
be substituted. In no case can we hope to teach the two plays
exhaustively, either as regards their form or their content. But both
these plays are of that kind of great art that has many levels to which
one may climb in turn, with his growing maturity. And the beauty of both
these plays is that in case the class is precocious and does inquire
deeply into them, there is nothing in the political philosophy of
_Julius Caesar_ or in the spiritual and social philosophy of _The
Tempest_ that may not be safely explained to them. This programme makes
no mention, as may be seen, of the many minor lyrics and bits of drama
and story that will be added from many sources and in many connections:
from their home reading; from the teacher's reserve stock; from their
reading lessons; from their work in other languages; from their
preparation for festivals and celebrations; from suggestions of weather
and season; from occasional current periodicals, and possibly from other

And when all is said, one must say again that there cannot be a strictly
normalized and fixed curriculum in literature since in this subject more
than in any other the personnel of the class must be considered; their
typical inheritance, their tradition, their social grade, their
community, their other interests, their passing preoccupation and almost
their daily mood, are factors in the problem. The teacher who is
sensitive to these matters in his class will soon emancipate himself
from the fixed curriculum. Let him at the same time be sensitive to the
emphasis and appeal of each bit of art he chooses for them, and he
cannot fail. Whatever his results they will be good.

After so long a preamble follows the list of specimens:


Sagas: "How Arthur Drew the Sword from the Stone."
       "How Arthur Got the Sword Excalibur."

Märchen: _Briar-Rose_, Grimm.
       _Snow-white and Rose-red_, Grimm.
       _The Elves and the Shoemaker_, Grimm.
       _The Musicians of Bremen_, Grimm.

Drolls: _Simple Simon._
       _The Johnny-cake._

Accumulative Tales: "The Old Woman Who Found the Sixpence."
       _The Little Red Hen_.

Fables: "The Crow and the Pitcher."
       "The Hare and the Tortoise."

Verses: "I Saw a Ship a-Sailing."
       "Sing a Song of Sixpence."
       "There Was a Little Guinea-pig."
       "Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son."
       "Birdie, with the Yellow Bill," Stevenson.
       "My Shadow."--Stevenson.


Sagas: "Siegfried Gets the Sword from Mimi."
       "Siegfried and the Dragon."
       "Siegfried Rescues Brunhild."

Märchen: _Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper._--Perrault.
       "Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp," in _Arabian Nights_.
       "The Fisherman and the Genie," in _Arabian Nights_.
       _Beauty and the Beast._--Madame de Beaumont.
       _The Poor Little Turkey Girl._--Cushing.

Drolls: _Hans in Luck._--Grimm.
       _Kluge Else._--Grimm.
       Chapters from _The Peterkin Papers_.--Hale.
       _Little Black Sambo._--Bannerman.
       _The Gray Goose._--Pearson.

Accumulative Tales: _The Three Billygoats_, Norwegian.
       _Munachar and Manachar_, Irish.
       _Titty-mouse and Tatty-mouse_.

Fables: "The Town Mouse and the Field Mouse."
       "The Stork and the Log."
       "The Fox and the Crow."

Verses: "Three Children Sliding on the Ice."
       "Four Brothers Over the Sea."
       "The Fairies," Allingham.
       "Little Gustava," Celia Thaxter.
       "Singing," Stevenson.
       "Little Indian, Sioux or Crow," Stevenson.
       "The Wind," Stevenson.
       "My Ship," Stevenson.
       "The Lamb," Blake.
       "Piping Down the Valleys Wild," Blake.
       "The Pied Piper of Hamelin," Browning.
       "The Mountain and the Squirrel," Emerson.


_Robinson Crusoe_.
_Sinbad the Sailor._
_Toomai of the Elephants._--Kipling.
_Reynard the Fox._ (Selected stories.)
"_Uncle Remus._" (Selected stories.)
"The Landing of the Pilgrim Fathers in New England," Mrs. Hemans.
"Columbus," Joaquin Miller.
The Twenty-third Psalm. Authorized Version.
"The Idle Shepherd Boys," Wordsworth.
"Spinning Song," Wordsworth.
"The Village Blacksmith," Longfellow.
"Tubal Cain," Mackay.
"The Wreck of the Hesperus," Longfellow.
"The Discoverer of the North Cape," Longfellow.
"The Spider and the Fly," Mary Howitt.
"The Palm Tree," Whittier.
"Hiawatha Builds His Canoe," Longfellow.
Dramatization of a story of some voyager or pioneer.


_Robin Hood_ (given partly from Howard Pyle's _Robin Hood_,
  partly from the Ballads).
"Under the Greenwood Tree," Shakespeare.
"Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind," Shakespeare.
"Waken, Lords and Ladies Gay," Scott.
"Meg Merriles," Keats.
"The Chough and the Crow," Baillie.
"Song of Marion's Men," Bryant.
"My Captain," Whitman.
"Lochinvar," Scott.
"The Shepherd of King Admetus," Lowell.
"Abou Ben Ahdem," Hunt.
"Yussouf," Lowell.
"Sherwood," Alfred Noyes.
"March," Wordsworth.
"When Icicles Hang by the Wall," Shakespeare.
"The Jabberwocky," _Alice in Wonderland_.


_The Odyssey._--George Herbert Palmer. (Translation.)
_Gulliver's Travels_: "The Voyage to Lilliput."
"The White Seal," Kipling.
"The Coast-wise Lights," Kipling.
"The Sea," Barry Cornwall.
"Sir Patrick Spens," Folk Ballad.
"The Inchcape Rock," Southey.
"To a Waterfowl," Bryant.
"Lead, Kindly Light," Newman.
"The Chambered Nautilus," Holmes.
"The Lake Isle of Innisfree," Yeats.
"Breathes There a Man," Scott.
"Uphill," Christina Rossetti.
"The Long White Seam," Jean Ingelow.
"The Exile of Erin," Campbell.


Heroic adventures from the chivalric cycles of King Arthur, of
Siegfried, of Roland, and The Cid, and selected episodes from _Don


_The Drums of the Fore and Aft._--Kipling; _Rip Van Winkle._--Irving;
_The Bee-Man of Orn._--Stockton; _Old Pipes and the Dryad._--Stockton;
_The Man Born to Be King._--Morris.
"The Lady of Shalott," Tennyson.
"Hack and Hew," Bliss Carman.
"The Song of the Chattahoochee," Lanier.
"The Cloud," Shelly.
"The Walrus and the Carpenter," from _Alice in Wonderland_.


_The Great Stone Face._--Hawthorne.
_The Snow Image._--Hawthorne.
_The Gold Bug._--Poe.
_The Pot of Broth._--Yeats.
_The Hour-Glass._--Yeats.
"A Dissertation on Roast Pig," Lamb.
"The Vision of Mirza," Addison.
"King Robert of Sicily," Longfellow.
"Horatius at the Bridge," Macaulay.
"The Ballad of East and West," Kipling.
"Heroes," Edna Dean Proctor.
"The Yarn of the Nancy Bell," Gilbert.
"The Wolf and the Mastiff," Fontaine.


_Julius Caesar._--Shakespeare.
_The Tempest._--Shakespeare.
_Sohrab and Rustum._--Arnold.
_Treasure Island._--Stevenson.
"Old China," Charles Lamb.
_Wake Robin_ (selections).--John Burroughs.
"My Garden Acquaintance," Warner.
"The Goblin Market," Christina Rossetti.
"Each and All," Emerson.
"Hart-leap Well," Wordsworth.
"I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," Wordsworth.
"The Splendor Falls," Tennyson.
"The Revenge," Tennyson.
"Etin the Forester," Folk Ballad.
"Thomas Rymer," Folk Ballad.

Anyone who has read these eighteen chapters should find himself provided
with a set of maxims and injunctions among which will be the following:

1. Choose the literature for the children under the guidance of those
principles by which you test any literature.

2. Remember that literature is art; it must be taught as art, and the
result should be an artistic one.

3. Never teach a thing you do not love and admire. But learn to suspect
that when you do not love it the fault is in you, and is curable.

4. According to the best light you have, choose those things that are
fitted for the children--corresponding to their experience, or awakening
in them experiences you would like them to have.

5. Teach your chosen bit of literature according to its nature and
genius. Study it so sympathetically that you can follow its hints, and
make its emphases. Teach each piece for its characteristic effect, and
do not try to teach everything in any one piece.

6. Be contented to read with the children a limited number of things.
You cannot read every delightful and helpful thing. You can only
introduce them to literature and teach them to love it.

7. When you have led your class, or half your class, into a vital and
personal love of literature and set their feet on the long path of the
reader's joy, you have done them the best service you can perform as a
teacher of literature.


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