T HIS series of Nature Readers is intended for the use of beginners in reading. The subjects chosen and their treatment have been alike subordinated to this object. The Nature Readers are not offered as text-books in natural science, but rather as a contribution to the idea that facts of real and permanent value may be made known, a noble taste may be cultivated, thought may be developed, and the initiatory steps in an increasingly popular study may be taken, while a child is learning to read a certain number of English words.
Should not the first short, strong Saxon sentences be used to convey scientific facts rather than such trivial information as, "The boy has a new hat," or, "I had a plate of green corn to eat on the fourth day of July"?
Lessons fresh from the seashore and the field, where life is seen, not in an abnormal state, as captivity, but in Its own chosen homes and natural development, cannot mil to have an educative power of great value, even to minds of a very early age.
The real difficulty to be overcome has been to put these simple lessons concerning the habits, homes, and anatomy of certain animals into such words as are usually found the most elementary reading-books. To accomplish this, so that the series shall reach the hands for which it was intended, has been the author's chief concern. There is happily no uncertainty as to the scientific accuracy of the work. Every substantive statement has been verified by the observation of the author, or of those whose competency for such work is unquestioned. The practical value of this series of Nature Readers must now be tried in the homes and the schools.
Whether the pages have been discreetly broken into paragraphs to catch restless and unaccustomed eyes, whether the words and subjects have been fitly chosen, whether the individuality and personality given to irrational animals shall succeed in attracting the interest and fixing the wandering thought of childhood, are all questions rather to be answered by a trial of the book than argued in a preface.
We bring no cat and dog stories, no tales of monkey antics; but we have endeavored to impress upon the little heir of life, in one of its highest forms, a comprehension of life, and a reverence for it, even in some of its lower manifestations.
This object has already been kindly commended and generously welcomed by no small number of skilled teachers and scientists, who have given valuable time to the reading of manuscript and proof of this series.
To those parents and teachers who will give the books a careful trial, and reinforce these simple instructions by their own enthusiasm and experience, the Nature Readers are commended by
To the Boys and Girls
D O you know that there are cities on your path to school, and under the trees in your garden? Do you know that homes with many rooms in them hang in the branches above your head? Do you know that what you call "little bugs "hunt and fish, make paper, saw wood, are masons and weavers, and feed and guard and teach their little ones, much as your papa and mamma take care of you? This sounds like a fairy story, but it is a true fairy story.
In this book you will read of some of these wonders. And when you have read this book well, you shall have two or three more.
These books will not try to tell you all that there is to tell of these things. They are only to wake up your minds, so that you will think and study and notice these things for yourselves.
Your eyes will be worth many times as much to you as they now are, when you learn to observe with care and to think about what you see.