An animal knows only the present. He is hungry, or tired, or his life is in danger, or he is well fed and sleepy. But boys and girls, and grown-ups, too, have not only their daily experience to draw upon, but through books and magazines and papers they can enter into the experience of others, so that they may live many lives in one.
Aladdin had a wonderful lamp. By rubbing it he could be anywhere he chose or could possess anything he desired. Such a lamp the reader of good books possesses. You come in from work or play, curl yourself up in a big chair before the fire, open your book, and in a twinkling you are whisked away to a new world. Your body is there, curled up before the fire, but enchantment has come upon you. In imagination you are with Sindbad the Sailor, or with Robinson Crusoe, or with King Arthur, or you are in the Indian Jungle, or on a ship sailing the South Seas, or you are hunting for Treasure Island. And you have it in your power to take these wonderful trips instantly; no railway tickets are required, no long delays. You may go on a journey to the other side of the world or into the South Polar ice or out on a western ranch.
What is more wonderful, you may go back a century, or ten centuries; through this Aladdin’s lamp of reading you are master not only of space, but also of time. Thus the first joy of reading is the privilege of taking part in the experiences of men of every time and every portion of the world. You multiply your life, and the product is richness and joy. The second joy of reading is even greater. Not only the world of adventure is open to you by means of books, but also a life enriched by the wisdom that has been gathered from a thousand poets and historians as bees gather honey from a thousand flowers.
There is a story of a great Italian of the sixteenth century who found himself in the prime of life without a position, without money, and even compelled to become an exile because of a revolution. He retired to a farm remote from all the scenes in which his previous life had been passed. All day he worked hard, for only by hard work could he live. But in the evenings, when work was done, when horses and oxen and the laborers who had toiled with them all the day had gone to sleep, this man put on the splendid court dress he had worn in the days of his prosperity, days when he had associated with princes and the great ones of the earth, and so garbed he went into his library and shut the door. And then, he tells us, for four hours he lived amid the scenes that his books called up before him. He found in books an Aladdin’s lamp that transported him to past times, that revealed the secrets of nature, that showed him what men had accomplished. Through history, he re-created the past. He could call on the wisest of men for counsel, and he forgot during these hours his weariness and pain.
This story of the great Italian has been paralleled many times. There was once a boy in a frontier cabin who had no such experience as this man passed through centuries ago, but who was eager to know all that could be learned about life. His days were long and hard, but he was dreaming of things to come. At night by the light of the pine logs blazing in the fireplace, this boy read and studied. Books were hard to get; sometimes he tramped for miles to borrow one that he had heard a distant farmer possessed. Thus Lincoln found the second of the joys of reading, the stored-up wisdom of the race that he appropriated against the day when he was to be not merely a student of history but a maker of history as well.
THE SONG OF THE LARK
The third joy of reading is that through books our eyes are opened to the beauty of the world in which we live. There is a famous painting called “The Song of the Lark.” A peasant girl is on her way to work in the fields, sickle in hand, in early morning. She has stopped to listen to the flood of melody that pours from the sky above her, and is trying in vain to see the bird which is singing the glorious song. Her dull, unexpressive face is lighted up for the moment in the presence of a beauty that she feels but does not comprehend. So the painter interprets for us the effect of beauty upon even a dull intelligence. But the poet translates the song into beautiful language, and we read and are happy.
Thousands of people pass unthinkingly by a field filled with the common daisies. They know the name of the flower; they may even say, or think, that the flowers make a pretty sight. But a poor young poet plows one up on his farm and tells us of his sympathy for the little flower he has destroyed; tells us, too, how the fate of the daisy suggests to him his own fate, so that all who read the poem by Robert Burns no longer see in the daisy a common flower, but see instead a symbol of beauty.
Bird-song and flower, the west wind as it drives the dead leaves before it or hurries the clouds across the sky or piles up in great masses the waters of the sea; the mountain that rises stark and stern above the plain, the ocean over which men’s ships pass in safety or into whose depths they plunge to their grave—all these things the poet helps us to see and to feel. So once more our Aladdin’s lamp brings us into scenes of enchantment, multiplies our lives, opens our eyes to things that the fairy-folk know right well, but which are forbidden to mortal eye and ear until the spell has worked its will.
These, then, are the three joys of reading:
First, to be able to travel at will in any country and in any period of time and to taste the salt of adventure; to hear the great stories that the human race has garnered through centuries of living; to know earth’s heroes and to become a part of the company that surrounds them.
Second, to enter into the inheritance of wisdom that has come down from ancient times or that animates those who are the builders of our present world. “Histories make men wise,” said one of the wisest of men, by which he meant that history records the experience of men in their attempts to make the world a place where people may dwell together in safety, and that as men reflect on this experience they become wiser. And poets and prose writers, too, have told in books what they have thought to be the meaning of life. They are like the wise old hermits, dwelling in little cabins by the edge of the enchanted forest, who told Sir Galahad or Sir Gawain or Sir Lancelot about the perils of the forest[xiii] and how to win their way to the enchanted castle where dwelt the Queen.
And the third joy of reading is that which brings us knowledge of this enchanted world. For it is a world of wonder in which we live as truly as that fairy world which so delighted you when Mother told you stories or when you read your fairy books. The journey of Captain Scott in search of the South Pole was as thrilling as the voyage of Sinbad. Those brave men who made the first flight in an airplane across the ocean the other day were as venturesome as Columbus, and their journey was as wonderful as that journey in 1492.
But Captain Scott did not leave his comfortable and safe life at home merely to seek adventure. It was an expedition planned in order that he might bring back exact information about parts of the earth where men had never been before. And the flight across the Atlantic was just one more step in the development of a new form of transportation. So science contributes in many ways to our happiness and safety. What men do to develop the resources of the earth, what they do to conquer disease, the inventions and discoveries that give us greater power than if we possessed the open sesame of our fairy stories—these also you learn about in your reading.
... One word more. You know that, in order to work enchantment, people have had to do certain things. There was the fern-seed, you know, or the charm like “open sesame,” or you have to rub the wonderful lamp. Now to use this book rightly, you must not think of it as a lesson book, containing tasks. If you do that, it will be no Aladdin’s lamp at all but just a dull old smoky lamp that would not even guide you to the cellar. You must do these things: First, get that chair or that corner and make yourself comfortable. Second, look at the program. What is that? Why, the “Table of Contents,” of course. You must know where you are going and what you are to see. In this book everything is arranged in such a way as to help the charm to work. Third, you will find little questions and studies every now and then, and a glossary, guide-posts so that you will not lose your way. And, last of all, you are to try to see the book as a whole and not as a sort of scrapbook about all sorts of things. For it all deals, in one way or another, with the Enchanted Forest and the Castle of Life.
Junior High School Literature, Book 1
Author: William H. Elson Christine M. Keck
$5.00- Education for All, vol 2- the Imagination (and more) issue!- transcript of the imagination talk from the AO Camp meeting, with additional material I had to cut to save time.
$5.00- Education for All, a new CM journal, Feed Your Mind! This issue contains several articles on handicrafts, outdoor play, nature study and science. See sidebar for purchasing options if you are in the Philippines.
$3.00 Five Little Peppers and How They Grew Copywork (grades 2/3, carefully selected with an eye toward finely crafted sentences, lovely bits of writing pleasant to picture in the mind's eye, and practice in copying some of the mechanics of grammar and punctuation typically covered in these years.
$3.00 Aesop's Fables Copywork for Year One! Carefully selected with an eye toward well written sentences, memorable scenes, and some practice copying sentences that model the basics of capitalization and punctuation. Suitable for use with children who have already mastered the strokes and letters for basic penmanship.
Picture Study! Miguel Cabrera's beautiful, diverse families, painted in 18th century Mexico this package includes 9 downloadable prints along with directions for picture study and background information on the artist and his work. $5.00
Common Kitchen: What's for lunch? Isn't that a common problem in homeschooling families? What to fix, what is quick, what is frugal, what is nourishing? How can I accomplish all those things at once? We homeschooled 7 children, and I was a homeschooling mom for 29 years on a single income. I collected these recipes and snack ideas from all over the world. These are real foods I used to feed my family, my godsons, and sometimes my grandkids. Includes some cooking tips and suggestions for sides, and for a variety of substitutions. I think every family will find something they can use here. $5.00