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J. S. LAURIE,
EDITOR OF " THE GEAUl ATEI) SERIES OF IlEADIKG-WSSSON BOOKS," ETC.
Fading.—A short ordinary paragraph in a newspaper, or other modern narrative.
Writing.—Another short ordinary paragraph in a newspaper, or other modern narrative, slowly dictated once, by a few words at a time.
Arithmetic.—A sum in practice or bills of parcels.
A Few words of explanation are necessary in order to account for the appearance, immediately after the completion of the "Graduated Series," of a new set of reading books under the superintendence of the same Editor. The two series are not rivals, nor is the one preparatory or supplementary to the other. The wants which they are designed to meet are separate and distinct.
Amongst the schools aided by public grants, there is a very large number for which the "Graduated Series" is either too expensive, or in which its adoption is rendered out of the question on account of the very brief average term of the pupils' attendance. Such schools are entirely dependent for reading books on the cheapest and shortest of the existing compilations; and are, therefore, for the most part, forced to choose from a number of compendious text-books of general information, which, whatever may be their merits, are certainly too dry and uninteresting, and too ill adapted to the wants of the youthful mind, to promote the acquirement, with anything like ease or rapidity, of the special art of reading. The deficiency in this respect of the books in ordinary use has, for some time, been apparent to intelligent teachers and school managers, and will stdl be more strikingly brought to light by the dc'..iite and practical requirements on the subject of reading which are enforced in the Revised Code. There is, indeed, no greater desideratum in the class of schools referred to than a set of books which shall be within the reach of the poorest child in the kingdom, and which shall impart a real stimulus to the study and the practice of reading; and that is the desideratum which the Editor of the present series hopes to aid in supplying. The new "Standard Readers" are constructed on the same fundamental plan as the " Graduated Series," but with a view to a less comprehensive range of mental culture; and it is intended that they should present, though within narrower limits and in a cheaper form, the same features of interest and attractiveness for the young, to which in that series so unusual a prominence is given.
The Editor's ideas of what a reading book should be, and what it should not be, have been so fully set forth in the widelycirculated prospectus of the "Graduated Series," that a repetition of them may be dispensed with. Suffice it here to state, that the main principles which have directed the compilation of "The 'Standard' Series" are these:—that the lessons should be sufficiently entertaining to enable a child to read them with pleasure; that the ideas expressed should be not only easily intelligible in themselves, but rendered perfectly clear and distinct by the employment of simple language, uninvolved grammatical constructions, short sentences, and a careful system of punctuation; that when a moral maxim is inculcated, it should be not merely sound in itself, but also capable of being genuinely appreciated by a child; and that in all except the earlier volumes, where the utmost possible variety is essential, a marked preference should be given to the narrative style, whether verse or prose. It will be found that the progression of the lessons is uniformly easy and gradual, while the arrangement aims at variety. Poetry for repetition also occupies a prominent place in all the volumes of the series. The different volumes are so graduated into each other, that the end of the first corresponds with the beginning of the second, and the end of the second with the beginning of the third, and so on. In short, the series has been prepared as one book. At the same time all the volumes have a distinctive character, each answering as nearly as may be to the stage for which it is designed, and all harmonising with the various phases through which the youthful mind passes in the process of its development.
The method according to which the columns of words in the earlier, and the meanings in the later volumes are arranged, will, it is hoped, meet with the approval of teachers, and the occasional introduction of the script character will doubtless be found advantageous. With regard to the typography, a point of no slight importance, it will be perceived that it is not only clear and distinct, but also that there is a gradation from what is technically called "English," in the Primer, to "Brevier" at the end of the Sixth Book, the same general character of type, however, being preserved throughout.
Strict attention has been paid to the strength of the binding. The convenient size of the books will save them much of the wear and tear to which unwieldly volumes are exposed; while the price renders it possible for each pupil to possess a copy for himself instead of sharing it (according to a common and very uneconomical practice) with another.
*»* The Proprietor protests against all such imitations of the Title of this Series as are calculated to mislead the vublic.
In accordance with the plan of the series the contents of the present volume have been selected with a view to the fulfilment of the several conditions which are indispensable to all good reading lessons—namely, that they should be easily intelligible at the stage for which they are designed; that they should be sufficiently attractive to excite a spontaneous effort to master them; and that they should be so varied in character as to afford relief to the mind, by constantly presenting to it, at short intervals, new subjects for contemplation.
Although, in pursuance of the last of those conditions, the editor has endeavoured to make the inherent interest of each lesson the central pivot on which it should turn, he has not overlooked such branches as form what may be termed the staple of elementary instruction—such as natural history, descriptive geography, biography, history, and some of the most practical utilities of life. Without professing to have done much more than touch upon these branches of knowledge, and indicate suggestive points, he indulges the hope that the teacher, who will know how to make allowance for the necessarily limited space of such a book as the present, will find in' the brief sketches here given good material upon which to base more extended supplementary information.
The lessons on the subjects alluded to are followed by a number of more purely literary and imaginative pieces, selected from some of our best prose writers. These, again, are succeeded by a series of poetical extracts for recitation. Lastly, the volume contains a motley collection of paragraphs culled from the daily papers. These are inserted by way of experiment, and not with any decided intention of retaining them permanently. Should they, however, be found to answer, on a practical trial, they will be continued, and from time to time, renewed.