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Reading: How To Teach It

Reading: How To Teach It
Title: Reading: How To Teach It
Release Date: 2018-12-12
Type book: Text
Copyright Status: Public domain in the USA.
Date added: 27 March 2019
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The Project Gutenberg eBook, Reading: How To Teach It, by Sarah LouiseArnold

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Title: Reading: How To Teach It

Author: Sarah Louise Arnold

Release Date: December 12, 2018 [eBook #58461]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8



E-text prepared by MFR
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team
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Note: Images of the original pages are available through Internet Archive. See https://archive.org/details/readinghowtoteac00arnoiala








W. M. Hunt.



How To Teach It

Sarah Louise Arnold

Supervisor of Schools, Boston, Mass., and author of“Stepping Stones to Literature,” “Waymarksfor Teachers,” etc.

Silver, Burdett and Company
Boston New York Chicago


Copyright, 1899
Silver, Burdett and Company



The teacher of children must know how toguide her work so that the seemingly trivialbeginnings shall tend toward a goal whose attainmentis worth striving for. Hers is aday of small things. The child does not seethe end from the beginning, but the teachermust, and the constant recognition of the desiredobject must influence her simplest lesson.

These pages are written in the hope of helpingteachers to appreciate the true import ofthe familiar task. They attempt to interpretand to dignify the commonplace routine. Theyhave grown out of thoughtful experience, andare sent forth with good will, to their service.

Sarah Louise Arnold.

Boston, Mass.,July, 1899.




I. Why Do We Read? 9
II. Literature in the School-room 25
III. Learning to Read 45
IV. The Study of the Lesson 87
V. Language Lessons as a Preparation for Reading Lessons 105
VI. Expression in Reading 117
VII. Lessons to Suggest Plans of Work 139
VIII. Lessons to Suggest Plans of Work—continued 157
IX. The Study of Pictures 185
X. Hints for Reading Lessons 199
XI. The Use of the Library 223
XII. A List of Books 251
XIII. A List of Poems 273


Consider what you have in the smallestchosen library. A company of the wisest andwittiest men that could be picked out of all civilcountries, in a thousand years, have set in bestorder the results of their learning and wisdom.The men themselves were hidden and inaccessible,solitary, impatient of interruption, fencedby etiquette; but the thought that they did notuncover to their bosom friend is here writtenout in transparent words to us, the strangersof another age. We owe to books those generalbenefits which come from high intellectual action.Thus, I think, we often owe to them theperception of immortality. They impart sympatheticactivity to the moral power. Go withmean people, and you think life is mean. Thenread Plutarch, and the world is a proudplace, peopled with men of positive quality,with heroes and demi-gods standing aroundus, who will not let us sleep. Then they addressthe imagination: only poetry inspirespoetry. They become the organic culture ofthe time. College education is the reading ofcertain books which the common sense of allscholars agrees will represent the science alreadyaccumulated. In the highest civilization,the book is still the highest delight.

Ralph Waldo Emerson.




The power to read is so ordinary apart of our mental equipment thatwe rarely question its meaning or its origin.All common things pass us unchallenged,however marvellous they maybe. We take little note of our sunrisesand sunsets, the hill range which we seeevery day from our window, the clearair which infuses new energies into ourlives with every new morning. Commoninstitutions, however precious—the[10]home, the school, the church, the state—arereceived by us as a matter of course,just as children receive without surprisethe most valuable gifts from the handsof their friends. We need not marvel,then, that this power, which has so longbeen a part of ourselves, should remainunquestioned, or that we learn to readwithout giving a thought to the motivewhich impels us to learn. It may bewell for even the most thoughtful amongus to pause for a moment to questionwhy everybody learns to read; to ponderthe returns from the effort, the time,and the pains spent in the mastery ofthe art.

It is evident that our estimate of thevalue of reading will depend upon ourkind of reading; or, in other words, thekind of knowledge which we gain fromreading. For example, you and I mayturn to the daily newspaper for a certain[11]knowledge to direct our everyday plans.We wish to go to the city on the morrow:—thisevening’s paper warns us ofan approaching rain; we therefore provideourselves with an umbrella beforestarting on our journey. Or we desireto hear Nansen’s lecture:—the newspaperapprises us of the time, the place,the subject, the cost of tickets, the placewhere they are to be sold, the arrangementfor extra trains. Or, again, weplan a trip to Florida:—the ways andmeans of going, the departure and arrivalof trains, the choice of routes, thecost of the journey, the hotels which wemay expect to find, together with athousand other items,—all these arelearned by means of time-tables, guide-books,and printed pamphlets, which wecarefully read before going. Withoutthis information which has been writtendown for us, and without this power on[12]our part to read it, our journey wouldbe to us like that of a traveller inan unexplored country, except as ourfriends give us the result of their experience.The business man consultsthe paper to learn of the quotations ofstocks and bonds, the arrival or departureof ships, the scarcity or abundanceof crops. The enthusiastic bicyclistlearns of the proposed runs of the clubthrough the obliging columns of thepaper; his guide-book supplies the directionswhich take him safely to hisjourney’s end, or the descriptions whichinterpret to him the places throughwhich he rides. Can we imagine ourselvesas bereft of this power of readingthe printed directions which are everyday consulted by us for our ordinaryconvenience? How limited, how hinderedour lives would seem to us withthis power withdrawn!


Through the various agencies to whichwe have referred, and similar sourcesequally familiar to us, we share the experienceof others and add to our limitedlife that which they have learned for us.Our power is multiplied, our convenienceis assured, our happiness is increased bymeans of the work which has been doneby others. The fruit of others’ thoughtand experience is stored ready for ouruse as soon as we have mastered the artof reading. Therefore, in order that wemay add to our own power by sharingthe experience and wisdom of others inthe management of our everyday, practicalaffairs, we have learned to read.

And, furthermore, as members of acommunity we need to know what othersare doing. We cannot live to ourselvesalone. Ordinary intelligence demands aknowledge of contemporary events. Astrike in the Fall River mills, a freshet[14]in the Connecticut Valley, a cyclone inIowa, a frost in Florida, a famine or apestilence in India, a war in Cuba, thethreatened partition of China, the accessionof Hawaii, are matters which pertainto us also. In these days of rapidtransmission of intelligence, the worldhas become one great family, and inproportion as one recognizes his responsibilityto the brotherhood of which heis a member, he will be interested toknow the deeds of other men, the happeningsin other communities. Theseexert a direct influence upon our ownenvironment. Therefore we read to obtainknowledge of the life about us, incountries near and remote; and in proportionas our interest is wide and intelligentdoes such reading become a necessityto us.

Moreover, an intelligent judgment ofthe events of the present involves a[15]knowledge of the past, which to so largea degree determines the present. Whatmen have done, what they have discovered,what they have thought, in theages that are past, enables us to interpretthe present. A complete knowledgeof our own time is the possessiononly of the man who can read the past.The history of any nation, the developmentof any art or science, the growthof any religion can be known only tohim who reads. The student of hisown times must turn to the life of theyesterdays for answers to the problemswhich are confronting him. The experienceof the past has been chronicledin books in order that we may share theblessings of that experience. How narrowseems the life of the person who iswithout the power to read even the outlinesof that history! We have but toimagine the books of the past as closed[16]to the entire world, and the power ofreading as cut off from every one, torealize the individual loss when thepower of thus reading is withheld. Itis a recognized truth that the broaderone’s life, the greater his consciousnessof the necessity for general knowledgesuch as is gained from books.

A fourth type of reading is suggestedby the ministrations of literature. Ifwe imagine ourselves as seated by thestudy table reading our favorite poem,we shall recognize that it has beenthrough the reading of literature thatmuch of our highest inspiration hascome to us. It is the poet who bringsto us true insight into our own experience,who interprets for us the greatproblems of life. With what joy andexultation we recall our magnificenthymns! What waves of emotion sweepover us as we read the lines in which[17]the master hand has recorded the deepestexperiences! For enjoyment, forculture, for spiritual help we turn tothe higher order of books. In the truestsense, this reading directs our lives,interprets our experiences, and determinesour ideals. We cannot imagineourselves as defrauded of this birthright.How meagre would our livesat once become if every vestige of thetreasures of literature was removed fromour experience:—the army without thebattle hymn, the home without thepoem,

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