Possibly, he may follow the trail to nature fiction or travel and in worthwhile literature relish a wholesome fare which will make less worthy books pallid and tasteless. Lessons of courage, heroism, unselfishness, truth, faith, love, and sacrifice abound in beautiful poetry quite within the range of eight to eighty.
Love and its Critics
Some current poems by a little-known author appealed to my class this year. The following is an excerpt:. No doubt, the imagination cultivated in poetry is further exercised through beautiful folk or fairy tales, beautifully told. Not all folk tales are suitable for children. In fact, we know that folk tales were not originally written for children but were told by simple people around the evening fire to wile away the long hours.
Some tales are gory, cruel, immoral, and unfit. But there is such a wealth of lovely lore from which to draw that no child's store should be impoverished. Andersen, Hawthorne, and Padraic Colum with individual and inimitable style have presented a host of deathless favorites to people the child's world.
Who better than Colum can throw open the gates of Troy and over land and sea follow Odysseus, making the Greek hero come alive for the boy or girl breathlessly traveling in his wake? The folk tale does far more than develop the imagination or furnish a means of escape from the commonplace into the magical.
In their inherent desire for wish fulfillment, the boy or girl read themselves into the story. With the right book, they broaden and deepen, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. Seeing virtue rewarded and vice punished with poetic justice, they learn valuable lessons of virtue and courtesy. Isn't one secret of the tremendous success of Walt Disney 's Snow White the artist's remarkable understanding and portrayal of human nature?
Isn't this quality of the very essence of the folk or fairy tales? Isn't the sense of humor a delicious quality common to the primitive droll or noodle tale, to Uncle Remus, Alice in Wonderland , Kipling's Just So Stories and Stockton's charmingly absurd fiction? What a delight for the college student who renews acquaintance with Stockton when he picks up a copy of The Casting Away of Mrs.
Lecks and Mrs. What more effective counter-irritant to modern sophistication, what better introduction to poetry or mythology or romance? Because, as a child, he loved the stories of Grimm, the college student with scientific archeological bent may care to delve into the past as did those scholarly brothers Grimm, who recorded by folk tale the religious and social ideals of primitive peoples.
Simultaneously or successively, the child may call for fairy tale or myth, for they have elements in common. Without a knowledge of myths, the student is handicapped in college when he meets mythological allusions in Greek or Latin, in classical poetry or other literature, and sometimes in other fields, science, for example. One of the newest elements discovered has been called Promethium, an energy produce liberated during current work on the atomic bomb. To a chemistry student who knows the story of Prometheus Unbound the suitability of the name is evident.
Historically, myths have an antiquarian value, for we are interested in the religious beliefs and the tales by which primitive man explained what was beyond his ken, for example, day and night, as told in the story of Phoebus, and the change of seasons as in the stories of Ceres and Proserpine and of Balder and Hoder.
Exercising great discretion in the choice of myths, the storyteller no doubt presented to the lad's youthful mind those stories suitable for children and probably favored the Norse myths, because they stressed the spiritual ideals rather than the physical, emphasized wisdom rather than craft, and cherished respect for women, family, and home, especially dear to man in a land where cold and hardship taxed moral and physical strength and challenged courage and patient endurance.
To know his Aesop, La Fontaine, Lessing, Gay, and Cowper, the college student finds his early acquaintance with myths an asset. In Horace, Chaucer, and Hawthorne he will read literary versions of some old favorites. When Peter Rabbit hopped into the little boy's friendship, he started him on the alluring trail of nature literature, which included Thornton Burgess and Uncle Remus , and, perchance, branched off to Thoreau, Burroughs, and Sharp, or, perhaps, to nature romance or fiction, animal or sea story, which through adolescence and adult life wile away many an hour and tempt the reader further afield into travel or science.
Speakers, writers, artists, and conversationalists make such ready use of the fable that really a college student loses half the meaning of a reference if unacquainted with the fable. Many a time Abraham Lincoln made use of the fable to prove a point or convey an idea. From the prudential fable the child, no doubt, advanced to another type of symbolic story—the parable—used so frequently and exquisitely by Our Lord, the most perfect of all storytellers.
As he grew older, no doubt, the boy came to an awareness of the beauty of the parable and a realization that the Prodigal Son was the best short story ever told. If, in aroused interest, he searched further and came upon Father Meschler's Life of Our Lord , he learned that:. Further … the method had this advantage … that [Our Lord's] glorious intellect could reveal itself in all its depths, clearness, delicacy and grace, together with its power of reaching the minds of the people … Thus He advanced in the esteem and favor not only of the people but also of the teachers of the law ….
Further study of the Bible or of the life of Our Lord would be a natural consequent. Our college students have been charmed and deeply affected by Archbishop Goodier's Public Life of Our Lord Jesus Christ and claim that the graphic details of God's biographer have made Christ live for them. Ross, in the Library Journal , says it is "vivid" and "retains intense interest" and that "these scripts" make the story "feel as real and contemporary as a newspaper report.
Burget of The New York Times comments:. The important thing is that they present in modern form an account of those dramatic, long past,… events that have … changed the world.
This year, Oursler has published a Child's Life of Jesus. Virginia Kirkus calls it "one of the best books of this type we have seen.
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During the hero worship stage, the boy's fancy was fired with tales of chivalry, of knightly ideals, and fine, noble living. In romance cycle and legend immortalizing the heroic exploits of Beowulf, Robin Hood , Don Quixote , King Arthur , Roland, the boy laid a foundation for the best in literature and approached the threshold to biography. With all the concreteness of the new biography which presents real people wrestling with and overcoming real difficulties, the boy meets and loves flesh-and-blood saints like Damien the leper and Don Bosco.
He is stimulated by the real experiences of men and women who overcame personal or physical handicap, broke their way through virgin forest, mastered science, discovered new lands, or rose to eminence in statesmanship or profession, army or navy. Since the best books for the child must hold the interest of the adult, these may well form a part of his permanent private collection. Though conscientious book selectors sound a warning note to the buyer of science books for children, there are in the recommended lists many charming editions in good format and a variety of subjects in useful and applied arts.
For example, the "how-to-do" and "how-to-make" books encourage initiative in the "hand-minded" child and, while serving to lessen the discipline problem, offer illuminating evidence of the child's aptitude. If the girl and boy get good fiction graded for their years, it is not difficult for the college librarian or teacher to develop a love of good literature with a discriminating reading habit.
Through all the years from childhood to manhood and womanhood, "the gift of reading" brings treasured friends into lives made better and happier and richer by contact with good and great and lofty minds. Curry, Charles M.
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Children's Literature. Rand McNally, Thomas, Katherine Elwes. The Real Personages of Mother Goose. The question before the House, Gentlemen, is: What fictional characters so far conceived by the English-speaking peoples are most likely to be alive and kicking in the human imagination in the year ? Huck Finn? Robinson Crusoe?
Silver, whether Long John or Hi-yo? I choose a different set entirely. For their ability to survive the next half millennium I place my bets on such personages as the well-known cynophile, Mrs. Hubbard; the ingenious Jack, domestic architect; the lunatic and saltatory cow and her companions, the cat, the fiddle and the amusable dog; Gotham's trio of sapient mariners; the neurotic Porgie; the frangible Dumpty; the well-adjusted Sprats; those opposed ethical philosophers, Doctor Green and Professor Stout; the variously unfortunate Misses Muffet, Etticoat, and Peep; Banbury Cross's digitally symphonic equestrienne; and the Dee's antisocial but sanguine miller.
As by I expect to be in poor shape to make a door-to-door collection of bets, I propose to defend my thesis here and now. Let us begin by noting that, in general, verse lasts longer than prose. Rhyme, and especially rhythm, form the benzoate of soda of letters. This in itself might mean little. It means more when you add, as you must, that these rhymes of the nursery comprise the best-known, the best-loved, and the most rapidly diffusing body of verse in the entire world.
In Hindustan at this moment small Hindus are chanting Humti Dumti char gia jhat , and confiding to each other the story of Mafti Mai 's grisly encounter with the spider. During the Napoleonic wars the British briefly occupied the Danish island of Anholt. Of that occupation no trace remains today, save one: diminutive, non-melancholy Danes sing what is to them a nonsense rhyme—. In fact I think I may boldly aver that, as against one inhabitant of this planet who knows how King Lear lost his kingdom, there are ten thousand who know how three kittens lost their mittens.
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If you seek a basic, a universal literature, incline your ear to the runes, the rhythms, the riddles of childhood. Furthermore, may we not from the very antiquity of the rhymes argue their futurity? Even if, as the Opies point out in the magnificent annotated and illustrated collection 1 from which these facts are pilfered, nursery rhymes are less old than enthusiasts once thought them, still they are venerable enough.
Of the pieces in their Dictionary, at least one quarter and probably over one half are more than two hundred years old. About one in four, it is startling to realize, was known in the days when young Will Shakespeare walked the lanes of Stratford. Rove back to Imperial Rome: in Persius, in Horace are lullabies and doggerel that, across the chasm of two thousand years, call to us in the faint but true voice of Mother Goose—or shall we say Anser Matrona?
For four centuries the frog has been setting off with his opera hat to go a-wooing.