BOYS' AND GIRLS' READING
BOYS' AND GIRLS' READING
This first of a series of yearly reports on "Reading for the young" was made by Miss Caroline M. Hewins at the Cincinnati Conference of the A. L. A. in 1882. It embodies answers from twenty-five librarians to the question, "What are you doing to encourage a love of good reading in boys and girls?"
Caroline Maria Hewins was born in Roxbury, Mass., October 10, 1846. She attended high school in Boston; received her library training in the Boston Athenaeum; taught in private schools for several years, and took a year's special course in Boston University. In 1911 she received an honorary degree of M.A. from Trinity College, Hartford. She has been librarian in Hartford, Conn., for many years, from 1875 to 1892 in the Hartford Library Association, since that time in the Hartford Public Library. She has done editorial work for various magazines and has contributed many articles to the library periodicals. Her list of "Books for boys and girls," of which the third edition was published in 1915, represents the result of many years' thoughtful and appreciative study of children's literature. Library work with children owes to Miss Hewins a debt of gratitude for her unusual contribution to the establishment of high standards, the development of a broad vision, and the maintenance of a wholesome, sympathetic, but not sentimental point of view.
About the first of March I sent cards to the librarians of twenty-five of the leading libraries of the country, asking, "What are you doing to encourage a love of good reading in boys and girls?" and soon after published a notice in the New York Evening Post and Nation, saying that statements from librarians and teachers concerning their work in the same direction would be gladly received The cards brought, in almost every case, full answers; the newspaper notice has produced few results.
The printed report of the Thomas Crane Public Library, Quincy, Mass., says: "The trustees have recently made a special effort to encourage the use of the library in connection with the course of teaching in the public schools. Under a rule adopted two years ago the teachers of certain grades of schools are in the practice of borrowing a number of those volumes they consider best adapted to the use of their scholars, and keeping them in constant circulation among them. During the year two lists of books for the use of the children in the public schools were printed under the direction of the trustees. One of these lists contained works in juvenile fiction; the other, biographies, histories, and books of a more instructive character. All the works included were selected by the trustees as being such as they would put in the hands of their own children. The lists thus prepared were then given to the teachers of the schools for gratuitous circulation among their scholars."
Mr. Green, of the Worcester, Mass., Free Public Library, writes: "The close connection which exists between the library and the schools is doing much to elevate the character of the reading of the boys and girls. Many books are used for collateral reading, others to supplement the instruction of text-books in geography and history, others still in the employment of leisure hours in school. Boys and girls are led to read good books and come to the library for similar ones. Lists of good books are kept in the librarian's room, and are much used by teachers and pupils."
Mr. Upton, of the Peabody Library, Peabody, Mass., gives as his opinion: "If teachers did their duty, librarians would not be troubled as to good reading. My experience of about thirty- five or forty years as a public grammar-school teacher is, that teachers can control, to a great extent, the reading of their pupils, and also that, as a class, teachers are not GREAT readers. We should have little trouble in changing to some degree our circulation, but our thirteen-foot shelves and long ladders prevent the employment of the best help. We print bulletins and assist all who ask aid."
Miss Bean, of the Public Library, Brookline, Mass., says: "I have no statistics of results relative to my school finding-list. Its influence is quietly but steadily making itself felt. The teachers tell me that many of the pupils use no other catalogue in selecting books from the library, and I know there are many families where the children are restricted to its use. We keep two or three interleaved and posted with the newest books when I think them desirable. Several of the teachers have told me personally that they had found the list useful to themselves; but teachers are mortal and human. Many of them think duty done when the day's session is over, and the matter of outside reading with their pupils is of little moment to them. I want to get out a revised list, with useful notes."
Mr. Rice, of the City Library, Springfield, Mass., writes: "We have a manuscript catalogue of the best and most popular books for boys and girls. We call attention to the best books as we have opportunity when the young people visit the library. We endeavor to influence the teachers in our public schools to aid us in directing the attention of boys and girls to the best juveniles, and such other books as they can appreciate."
Mr. Arnold, of the Public Library, Taunton, Mass., says: "What I am doing is to indicate in the margin of my catalogues the works which are adapted to the taste and comprehension of young people, so that not only their own attention may be diverted from the fiction department, but that their parents and teachers may easily furnish them with proper lists. We aim at excluding from the library books of a sensational character, as well as those positively objectionable on the score of morality."
Miss James, librarian of the Free Library, Newton, Mass., in speaking of the catalogue, without notes, of children's books, published by that library in 1878, and given to the pupils of the public schools, says: "I do not think that catalogue ever influenced a dozen children. We have just completed a very full card-catalogue which the children use a great deal in connection with their studies. Eleven hundred zinc headings are a great help. I frequently speak to the children to get acquainted with them, so they are quite free to ask for help. Our local paper has offered me half a column a week for titles and notices. I shall, of course, notice children's books as well as others." Mr. Peirce, the superintendent, says in his last report: "It is only from homes where the intellectual and moral character of childhood is neglected, as a rule, that the library with us is in any wise abused by the over-crowding of the mind with novels. In many of even these cases kind and wise restraint can be, and is, exercised by the librarian."
Mr. Cummings, curator of the Lower Hall card-catalogue of the Boston Public Library, and Miss Jenkins, assistant librarian in the same place, have kindly sent me the manuscripts of their forthcoming reports to the trustees. These reports are wholly on the methods and results of their personal intercourse with readers, and the increase in special reading during the last few years. Concerning boys and girls Mr. Cummings writes: "I must not forget the juvenile readers, school-boys and school- girls, and the children from the stores and offices about town. These latter are smart, bright, active little bodies, often more in earnest than their more fortunate fellows of the same age. They are an object of special solicitude and care. The school children come for points in reading for their compositions and for parallel reading with their lessons in school; and such books are suggested as may be found useful. The two most available faculties in children to work upon are the heart and the imagination. Get a hold on their affections by encouraging words and manifesting a readiness to help them, and you command their devotion and confidence. Give them interesting books (Optic and Alger, if needs be), and you fix their attention. Above all, let the book be interesting; for the attention is never fixed by, nor does the memory ever retain, what is laborious to read. But, once assured of their devotion, with their confidence secured and their attention fixed, there is nothing to prevent the work of direction succeeding admirably with them."
Miss Jenkins says: "The use of the library by the young people is increasing every year. The change in the character of children's books has been a great help to us, fairly crowding out many of the trashy stories so long the favorite reading. One of the first things that attracted my attention was their perseverance in seeking certain authors, and their continual exchange of books. I soon found their difficulties with the catalogue. They read only stories, and wanted those full of incident and excitement; when their favorite author failed, they sought for something else that sounded right in the catalogue, or sometimes wrote only the numbers without much reference to the titles, trusting, I suppose, to luck. Not liking the looks of the books they would return them. A steady recurrence of this made it a nuisance.
One of my first steps was to join one of the many groups around the room, and look over with them, suggest this author, or this, that, and the other book, until they were furnished with a list of books fairly suited to their age, and then, suggesting that the list should be kept for future reference, pass on to another group. This is now a general practice, and seems to suit the little folks; if, after several applications, they are unsuccessful, it is my custom to get them a book. My young people began to ask me to help their friends, also to help others themselves; so gradually the bright faces of my boy and girl friends have grown familiar, and as they gain confidence in me we strike out into other paths, and many bright, readable books, historical or containing bits of geography or elementary science, have been read. It so happened that many of my young friends grew quite confidential, and told me about their school and lessons. It was not very difficult to induce them to read some things bearing upon their studies; these books were shown to their teachers, and many were ready to cooperate at once; this led to an acquaintance with several, and the teachers' plan of study became a basis of selection for reading in history, biography, travel, and natural science. From books suited to their capacity much effective work has been done. Several classes have studied English history, and their reading has been made supplementary from the topics. Later, when a list of notable persons was given to them, they showed the effect of their reading by giving very good short sketches of these persons. American history--colonial, revolutionary, administrations, civil war, reconstruction--has been treated similarly, and the teachers are much gratified at the result. We find that these boys do not fall back to trashy reading, but ask for better reading in place of their old favorites.
Several girls of the high school have sought assistance in their various studies, especially in Greek and Roman history, and have read, in connection with the histories recommended, novels and some interesting travels, and have spent much time over engravings and photographs illustrative of their reading. Two of these girls, having asked me for a novel, meaning something like their former reading, I made tests by giving them exactly what they asked for. Very soon both books were returned, with the remark, 'I couldn't read it.' In a little talk that ensued, and in which I drew from them a criticism of their reading, it dawned upon them that they had developed, or grown, as they said. I could go on giving instances of this gradual development in individual cases, and of its influence upon others to whom these readers recommended what they had read, the increased call for the better books of fiction, biography, history, travel, miscellany, and science. In four years' work books of sensational incident, so long popular, have lost much of their charm. They have been crowded out by better books and personal interests in the young people themselves."
Mr. Foster of the Public Library, Providence, R. I., has sent an account in detail of his work among pupils and teachers, which may be thus condensed: Soon after the opening of the library, in 1878, he held a conference with the grammar-school masters of the city, and through them met the other teachers. He printed for the use of pupils a list of suggestions, some of the most important of which were summed up in the following words: "Begin by basing your reading on your school text-books;" "Learn the proper use of reference-books;" "Use imaginative literature, but not immoderately;" "Do not try to cover too much ground;" "Do not hesitate to ask for assistance and suggestions at the library;" "See that you make your reading a definite gain to you in some direction."
Mr. Foster soon gained influence among the teachers by personally addressing them, and began to publish annotated lists of books for young readers. A reading hour was established in the public schools, and pupils learned to give in their own language the substance of books which they had read. Mr. Foster says: "Our plans were by no means limited to the public schools, but included Brown University, the Rhode Island State Normal School, the Commercial College, the private schools for girls, and the two private boys' schools preparatory for college, one of which has ten teachers and some two hundred and fifty pupils. One morning I met the boys of this school in their chapel, and gave them a twenty minutes' talk on reading, particularly on the question how to direct one's current reading, as of newspapers, into some channel of permanent interest and value. Since my address before the teachers of the State (published in the papers and proceedings of the Rhode Island Institute of Instruction for 1880) we have had many calls for assistance from outside the city, from teachers in the high schools and grammar schools of other places. In 1878 I began the preparation of a bulletin of new books, issued quarterly by the State Board of Education, and there have been several instances of a series of references in connection with school-work. In July, 1880, I sent to the different teachers a series of suggestions about the reading of their pupils, covering such points as preserving a record of the books read, books not being read and returned at too frequent intervals, and the inspection of these matters by the teacher, or rather establishing communication between the teacher and pupil so that these things shall be talked over." Finding-lists have been checked for the schools, appeals have been made by Mr. Foster in public addresses for supervision of children's reading by teachers and parents, and duplicate copies of books have been placed in the library for school use. In conclusion, Mr. Foster adds: "There has been a gradual and steady advance in methods of cooperation and mutual understanding, so that now it is a perfectly understood thing, throughout the schools, among teachers and pupils, that the library stands ready to help them at almost every point."
Mrs. Sanders, of the Free Public Library, Pawtucket, R. I., writes: "I am circulating by the thousand Rev. Washington Gladden's 'How and What to Read,' published as a circular by the State Board of Education of Rhode Island. I am constantly encouraging the children to come to me for assistance, which they are very ready to do; and I find that after boys have had either a small or a full dose of Alger (we do not admit 'Optic'), they are very ready to be promoted to something more substantial-- Knox, Butterworth, Coffin, Sparks, or Abbott. I find more satisfaction in directing the minds of boys than girls, for though I may and generally do succeed in interesting them in the very best of fiction, it is much more difficult to draw them into other channels, unless it is poetry. I should like very much to know if this is the experience of other librarians. My aim is first to interest girls or boys according to their ability to enjoy or appreciate, and gradually to develop whatever taste is the most prominent. For instance, I put on the shelves all mechanical books for boys; works upon adornments for homes--painting, drawing, music, aids to little housekeepers, etc., for the girls."
Mr. Fletcher, of the Watkinson Library, Hartford, Conn., says, in a recent address on the public library question in its moral and religious aspect: "Many of our public libraries beg the whole question, so far as it refers to the youngest readers, by excluding them from the use of books. A limit of fourteen or sixteen years is fixed, below which they are not admitted to the library as its patrons. But, in some of those more recently established, the wiser course has been adopted of fixing no such limitation. For, in these times, there is little probability that exclusion from the library will prevent their reading. Poor, indeed, in resources must be the child who cannot now buy, beg, or borrow a fair supply of reading of some kind; so that exclusion from the library is simply a shutting up of the boy or girl to the resources of the home and the book-shop or newspaper. A slight examination of the literature found in a majority of homes and most prominent in the shops is enough to show what this means, and to explain the fact, that the young persons first admitted to the public library at fourteen years of age come to it with a well-developed taste for trash and a good acquaintance with the names of authors in that department of literature, but with apparently little capacity left for culture in higher directions."
Mr. Winchester, of the Russell Free Library, Middletown, Conn., said in his report, last January: "A departure from the ordinary rules governing the use of the library has been made in favor of the teachers in the city schools, allowing a teacher to take to the school, a number of books upon any topic which may be the subject of study for the class for the time, and to retain them beyond the time regularly allowed." In a letter three months later he writes, "I cannot trace directly to this arrangement any change in the reading of young folks. We have taken a good deal of pains to get good books for the younger readers, and I make it a point to assist them whenever I can. I feel quite sure that, if trash is shut out of the library and withheld from young readers, and, if good and interesting books are offered to them, they will soon learn not to care for the trash."
Mr. Bassett, of the Bronson Library, Waterbury, Conn., says in his printed report: "The librarian can do a little towards leading young book-borrowers towards the selection of proper books, but it does not amount to much unless his efforts are seconded by parents and teachers. It is of little use, I fear, to appeal to parents to look after their children's reading. It is possible that they do not know that, in not a few cases, boys and girls from eight to sixteen years of age, even while attending school, draw from three to six volumes a week to read, and often come for two volumes a day. That they fail to realize the effects of so much reading on their children's minds is evident when we hear them say, and with no little pride, too, 'Our children are great readers; they read all the time.' Such parents ought to know that instead of turning out to be prodigies of learning, these library gluttons are far more likely to become prodigious idiots, and that teachers find them, as a rule, the poorest scholars and the worst thinkers." He adds an appeal to teachers: "Give out questions that demand research, and send out pupils to the library for information if necessary, and be assured that a true librarian enjoys nothing so much as a search, with an earnest seeker, after truths that are hidden away in his books. Do not hesitate even to ask questions that you cannot answer, and rely upon your pupils to answer them, and to give authorities, and do not be ashamed to learn of your pupils. Work with them as well as for them. But, whatever else you do, do not waste your time in urging your pupils to stop story-reading and to devote their time to good books. A parent can command this, you cannot; but you can make the use of good books, and the acquisition of knowledge not found in books, attractive and even necessary, and your ability to do this determines your real value as a teacher. Your work is to change your earth-loving moles into eagle-eyed and intelligent observers of all that is on, in, above, and under the earth." Mr. Bassett writes that as a result of this appeal there was in November, December, January, and February, an increase of nineteen (19) per cent in the circulation of general literature, science, history, travel, and biography, and a decrease in juveniles of ten (10) per cent for January and February, 1882, as compared with the same months of 1881, For the first nineteen days of March the increase of the classes first-named was thirty-seven (37) per cent over last year, and the decrease in juvenile fiction twenty-seven (27) per cent. He ends his letter: "As a school officer and acting school visitor, I find that those teachers whose education is not limited to textbooks, and who are able to guide their pupils to full and accurate knowledge of subjects of study, are not only the best, but the only ones worth having."
Mr. Rogers, of the Fletcher Free Library, Burlington, Vermont, says: "I have withdrawn permanently all of Alger, Fosdick, Thomes, and Oliver Optic. I have for some time past been making the teachers in the primary schools my assistants without pay. I give them packages of books to circulate among their respective schools. Very good results have been obtained. The Police Gazette and other vile weeklies have been discarded for books from the Fletcher Library. Most of the young folks are not old enough to draw at the library themselves, and this method has to be used, as in many instances the parents will not or cannot draw books for their children. Each teacher has a copy of Mr. Smart's excellent book, 'Reading for Young People.' Such books as are in our collection are designated in their copies."
The New York Free Circulating Library is quietly doing good by the establishment of carefully selected branch libraries in the poorest and most thickly settled parts of the city In the words of the last report: "The librarian has been constantly instructed to aid all readers in search of information, however trivial may be the subject, and, while the readers are to have free scope in their choice of books, librarians have attempted, when they properly could do so, free from seeming officiousness, to suggest books of the best character, and induce the cultivation of a good literary taste." Miss Coe, the librarian, adds, "Boys will read the best books, if they can get them."
Mr. Schwartz, of the Apprentices' Library, New York, says: "We are always ready and willing to direct and advise in special cases, but have not as yet been able to come across any general plan that seemed to us to promise success. The term 'good reading' is relative, and must vary according to the taste of each reader, and it is just this variety of standards that seems to present an unsurmountable obstacle to any general and comprehensive system of suggestions."
Miss Bullard, of the Seymour Library, Auburn, N. Y., reports a decrease in fiction from sixty-five (65) to fifty-eight (58) per cent in the last five years. She says: "I have endeavored, year by year, to gain the confidence of the younger portion of our subscribers in my ability to always furnish them with interesting reading, and have thus been able to turn them from the domain of fiction into the more useful fields of literature. Another noticeable and encouraging feature of the library is the increasing use made of it by pupils in the high school in connection with school-work."
Mr. Larned, of the Young Men's Library of Buffalo, N. Y., writes: "I think the little catalogue is doing a great deal of good among our young readers and among parents and teachers. We exert what personal influence we can in the library, but there are no other special measures that we employ." The catalogue, a carefully chosen list of books for young readers, with stars placed against those specially recommended, includes, besides books mentioned in other letters, the Boy's Froissart and King Arthur, Miss Tuckey's Joan of Arc, Le Liefde's Great Dutch Admirals, Eggleston's Famous American Indians, Bryan's History of the United States, Verne's Exploration of the World, Du Chaillu's books, What Mr. Darwin Saw, Science Primers, Faraday's Chemical History of a Candle, Smiles's Biographies, Clodd's Childhood of the World, Viollet Le Duc's Learning to Draw, Dana's Household Book of Poetry, Uncle Remus, Sir Roger de Coverley, several pages on out and in door games, hunting and fishing, with plenty of myths and fairy tales, an annotated selection of historical novels, and a short list of good stories.
The Friends' Free Library, Germantown, Pa., still excludes all fiction except a few carefully chosen stories for children. The report of the committee says: "Our example has been serviceable in stimulating some other library committees and communities to use more discrimination in their selection of books than may have been the case with them in the past. From our own precious children we would fain keep away the threatening contamination, if in our power to do so, the divine law of love to our neighbor thence instructs us to use the opportunity to put far away the evil from him also." The representatives of the religious Society of Friends for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware, have published during the year a protest against demoralizing literature and art, taking the ground that the national standard of moral purity is lowered, and the sanctity of marriage weakened, by most of the books, pictures, and theatrical exhibitions of to-day.
The current report of the Cincinnati public schools gives a full account of the celebrations of authors' birthdays in the last two years, and the superintendent, the Hon. John B. Peaslee, LL.D., in an address on moral and literary training in school, urges that the custom, so successfully begun, shall be kept up, and that children in all grades of schools shall be required to learn every week a few lines of good poetry, instead of choosing for themselves either verse or prose for declamation. Mr. Merrill asks in his last report for coooperation between the school and the library, and says in a letter: "I read a paper some time ago which was published in a teachers' magazine, and have addressed our Cincinnati teachers. We purchased a number of the catalogues of the Young Men's Library of Buffalo, and have written in our corresponding shelf numbers. A few of our teachers have also obtained these catalogues. I judge that the children are beginning to take out better books than formerly. The celebration of authors' days in the schools has been very beneficial in making the children acquainted with some of the best literature in the libraries as well as with the use of books of reference."
Miss Stevens, of the Public Library, Toledo, Ohio, says: "We are fond of children, and suggest to them books that they will like. Give a popular boy a good book, and there is not much rest for that book. Librarians should like children."
Mr. Poole, of the Chicago Public Library, writes: "I have met the principals of the schools, and have addressed them on their duties in regulating the reading of their pupils, and advising their pupils as to what to read and how to read. My talk has awakened some interest in the teachers, and a committee has been appointed to consider what can be done about it."
Mr. Carnes, of the Odd Fellows' Library Association, San Francisco, fires this shot in his report: "Even the child knows that forbidden fruit is the sweetest on the branch. If you wish to compel a boy to read a given book, strictly forbid him even to take it from the shelves. The tabooed books will somehow be secured in spite of their withdrawal."
Mr. Metcalf, of the Wells School, Boston, who told at the conference of 1879 of his work in encouraging a love for good, careful, and critical reading, writes: "My girls have bought Scott's Talisman, and we have read it together. I have now sent in a request for forty copies of Ivanhoe. My second class have read, on the same plan, this year, Mrs. Whitney's We Girls, and the third class have finished Towle's Pizarro, and are now reading Leslie Goldthwaite. The City Council refused, last year, to appropriate the $1,000 asked for. When we have the means, all our grammar and high school masters will be able to order from the library such books as are suited to their classes. This plan introduces the children to a kind of reading somewhat better than would otherwise reach them, and, best of all, it gives them great facility in expression."
Hartford, which has now no free circulating library, but hopes for one within two years, still keeps the old district system of schools, and several of these schools have a library fund. Mr. Barrows, principal of the Brown School, writes: "Our library contains the usual school reference-books. Recently we have added quite a number of books especially adapted to interest and instruct children, such as The Boy Travellers, Miss Yonge's Histories, Butterworth's Zigzag Journeys, Forbes's Fairy Geography, etc. The children are not permitted to take these books away from the building. Pupils are invited to bring such additional facts in geography, or history, as they may obtain by reading. Topics are assigned. Should spices be the topic, one pupil would read up concerning cloves; another nutmeg, etc. Again, pupils are allowed to make their own selections, and invited to give, at a specified time, any facts in geography, history, natural science, manufactures, inventions, etc. For this extra work extra credits are given. Our object is to cause pupils to realize the conscious and abiding pleasure that comes by instructive reading; to encourage such as have not been readers to read, and to influence such as have been readers of trash to become readers of profitable books. The result, so far, is very encouraging. Many have become enthusiastic readers, and can give more facts and information thus obtained than we have time to hear. As the Christmas holidays approached, many signified a desire that their presents might be books, such as we have in our library; for they do not have time at school to exhaust the reading of these books, and consequently do not lose their interest."
Within the last few months Mr. Northrop, Secretary of the Board of Education of Connecticut, has distributed in the high schools and upper classes of the grammar schools of the State, blanks to be filled by the pupils with the kind of reading that they like best, and the names of their favorite authors. Several hundred of these circulars were destroyed when the Hartford High School was burned last winter. The publication of a list of books suitable for boys and girls has been delayed, but Mr. Holbrook, of the Morgan School, Clinton, Conn., who prepared the list, writes concerning his work in school: "I have the practical disbursement of three or four hundred dollars a year for books. In the high school, in my walks at recess among the pupils, I inquire into their reading, try to arouse some enthusiasm, and then, when the iron is hot, I make the proposition that if they will promise to read nothing but what I give them I will make out a schedule for them. A pupil spending one hour, even less, a day, religiously observing the time, will, in five years, have read every book that should be read in the library. Those who agree to the above proposition I immediately start on the Epochs of History, turning aside at proper times to read some historical novel. When that is done I give them Motley, then Dickens, or Prescott, or Macaulay, Hawthorne, Thackeray, Don Quixote. Cooper I depend on as a lure for younger readers. When they have read about enough (in my opinion), I invite them to go a little higher. Whenever they come to the office and look helplessly about, I immediately jump up from my work, and, solving the personal equation, pick out two or three books which I think adapted first to interest, and then instruct. I try to welcome their appearance, assuring them that the books are to be read, urging the older ones to read carefully and with thought. Some I benefit; others are too firmly wedded to their idols, Mrs. Holmes and Southworth. Finally, it is my aim to send them away from school with their eyes opened to the fact that they have, the majority, been reading to no purpose; that there are better, higher, and nobler books than they ever dreamed of. Of course I don't always accomplish this; but he who aims at the sun will go higher than one aiming at the top of the barn."
A commission of sixteen ladies was appointed last year, by the Connecticut Congregational Club, to select and print a catalogue of books for Sunday Schools. During the year it has examined one hundred and eighty-four, almost all reprints of well-known books, and has selected one hundred. At least one annotated Sunday-School catalogue was prepared before the appointment of the commission, directing the attention of children to such books as Tom Brown's School Days and Higginson's Young Folks' Book of American Explorers, and of older readers to Stanley's Jewish Church, Martineau's Household Education, Robertson's Sermons, Sister Dora, Hypatia, Charles Kingsley's Life, and Atkinson's Right Use of Books.
The conclusions to which these opinions, from libraries and schools in ten different States, lead us, are these: 1. The number of fathers and mothers who directly supervise their children's reading, limiting their number of library books to those which they themselves have read, and requiring a verbal or written account of each before another is taken, is small.
2. The number of teachers who read and appreciate the best books, or take pains to search in libraries for those which illustrate lessons, or are good outside reading for the pupils, is also small.
3. The high schools, normal schools, and colleges are every year sending out young men and women with little knowledge of books except text-books and poor novels.
4. In towns and cities with free libraries, much may be and has been done by establishing direct communication between libraries and schools, making schools branch libraries.
5. This can be done only by insisting that teachers in such towns and cities shall know something of literature, and by refusing to grant certificates to teachers who, in the course of an hour's talk, do not show themselves well enough informed to guide children to a love of good books. The classes now reading under Mr. Metcalf's direction in Boston, or celebrating authors' days and the founding of their own state in Cincinnati, will be, in a few years, the teachers, the fathers, or the mothers of a new generation, and the result of their reading may be expected to appear in the awakened intelligence of their pupils and children.
6. Daily newspapers may be used with advantage in schools to encourage children to read on current events and to verify references.
7. Direct personal intercourse of librarians and assistants with children is the surest way of gaining influence over them. Miss Stevens, of Toledo, has put the secret of the whole matter, so far as we are concerned, into four words: "Librarians should like children." It may be added that a librarian or assistant in charge of circulation should never be too busy to talk with children and find out what they need. Bibliography and learning of all kinds have their places in a library; but the counter where children go needs no abstracted scholar, absorbed in first editions or black-letter, but a winsome friend, to meet them more than halfway, patiently answer their questions, "and by slow degrees subdue them to the useful and the good."