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Corner of Main and State Streets.


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Entered according to the Act of Congress, in the year 1840,

By G. & C. MERRIAM, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Massachusetts.



In adding to the number of Reading Books already before the public, designed for the use of higher classes in common schools, the compilers of the VILLAGE READER wish to state, briefly, the views they have entertained of what such a book should be, while engaged in its preparation. It may seem superfluous to say, that, in their estimation, the object to be kept primarily in view, in compiling a Reading Book, should be, to make a selection of such pieces as are most likely to promote the advancement of the pupil in the art of reading. Other incidental objects may, and doubtless should, be taken into consideration. It may be desirable to impart information to the scholar upon a variety of topics while he is learning to read ; – to add to his knowledge of History, or Geography, or Agriculture, and especially to instil into his mind the principles of morality and religion; but, truism as it may seem, the object of a reading book should be, to teach the art of reading; - an end which may be lost sight of, in endeavors to promote some other, very useful, but very different object.

In accordance with these views, the compilers have deemed it essential to select such pieces as will interest the pupil'; — to prepare a volume which he will not merely take up, as his regular task in the school-room, but so attractive that he will occasionally resort to its pages in his leisure hours at home; to have the lessons treat of subjects not so entirely above and beyond the ordinary range of his thoughts, that he will have very little understanding of them, or, understanding, feel in them no interest. The reading exercise will be very likely to be regarded as an irksome task, and to be performed in a lifeless and profitless manner, if the lessons are of such a char. acter that the fixed attention of mature minds is required, to understand and appreciate the sentiments expressed.

While it is by no means assumed as a correct principle, that nothing should be presented to the mind of a scholar, but what he can at once fully grasp, and entirely comprehend, it may yet well be doubted, whether his rapid progress along the path of knowledge will be secured, by hedging up its entrance with an array of high-sounding phrases which

convey no ideas to his mind. Whatever may be the general effect of such a course upon his intellectual progress, certain it is, if the experience of the ablest teachers is of any account in the matter, that the pupil does not improve in reading, where the lessons, being above his capacity, convey sounds to the ear, without communi. cating thoughts to the understanding.

The compilers are more desirous of having their views on this subject understood, since it may be thought a peculiarity of the following work, that some of the lessons are of a more juvenile character than those usually found in books designed for a similar class of scholars. Where the reply to the question — once asked for a different purpose

6 understandest thou what thou readest ?” must be in the negativë, there but little progress, it is conceived, is made in learning to read, however correctly the learner may give the proper emphasis and inflections by the aid of a system of arbitrary signs.

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