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TYPES OF CHILDREN'S LITERATURE
A COLLECTION OF THE WORLD'S BEST LITERATURE FOR CHILDREN
FOR USE IN COLLEGES, NORMAL SCHOOLS AND LIBRARY SCHOOLS
COLLECTED AND EDITED
WALTER BARNES, A.M.
Application of the world's knowledge to the world's needs is the guiding aim of this publishing house, and it is in conformity to this aim that _Types of Children's Literature_ is published. There is need of helpful direction for parents and teachers who wish to place within reach of every child the beauty, wisdom, and knowledge stored up in the world's best literature for children. The domain is so vast, so rich, and so varied that a single volume which presents specimens of all the different types for study and analysis by older readers and for reading by the children themselves, may hope to make easy and natural for children the entrance to the pleasant land of books
This collection of specimens of children's literature has evolved itself naturally and, as it were, inevitably out of the editor's experience in teaching classes in children's literature in normal school and college, and it is published in the belief that other teachers of this subject find the same need of such a book that the editor has experienced. For it is obvious that if we are to conduct classes in children's literature either for general culture or for specific training of teachers, we must have specimens of children's literature readily accessible to the students. We must bring students to a knowledge and appreciation of any author, period, or type by having them study representative selections, and this principle applies as logically to courses in children's literature as to courses in other kinds of literature.
_Types of Children's Literature_ is intended to provide students of the subject with a single-volume anthology of prose and poetry illustrative of the different types, styles, interests, periods, authors, etc., of writings for children. There are, of course, many collections of specimens of children's literature; but they are all made as reading books for children and, consequently, are unsatisfactory, in some important respect or other, as source books. Moreover, these collections are published in several volumes and contain much that is mediocre and trivial. As far as the editor has been able to discover, there is but a single one-volume collection, and that collection, having been compiled solely for juvenile readers, is impracticable as a text for college and normal school classes. In teaching classes in children's literature the present editor has had to use, as the only possible text, such sets of literary readers as the _Heart of Oak_ series or such miniature libraries as the ten-volume _The Children's Hour_ or the eight- volume _Children's Classics_. This procedure has been both expensive and inconvenient for teacher and students, besides not supplying some of the material desirable in any symmetrical outline of study.
In compiling the book the editor kept in mind several guiding aims. Foremost was the wish to include in the collection at least one selection--and that a masterpiece--of each type and kind of children's literature in the English language. The different species of prose and poetry; the various kinds of stories, such as fables, myths, and fairy stories; the fundamental forms of discourse, such as narration, description, the sketch, the essay, the oration, letters-- nearly all the molds, so to speak, into which the molten literary stream has flowed all these types are represented by the choicest specimens in the range of children's literature.
A careful inspection of the selections in this volume will reveal the rich variety of the material. Specimens are to be found of folk literature and modern literature, of the romantic, of the realistic, of the crude and naive, of the artistic and sophisticated, of the humorous and the pathetic. The editor has tried to find specimens presenting as many themes, as many interests, as many emotions as possible, characteristic specimens of the most important authors for children, of all the civilizations that have produced literatures which have become a part of the English-speaking child's heritage. The collection contains literature for the little child and literature for the boy or girl in the early 'teens, and it ranges from primitive times down to this present decade. Moreover, since a considerable part of the body of children's literature is made up of original selections made over for children, a few masterpieces of translations, re-tellings, abridgments, and reproductions have been included.
The editor hopes that he has allotted a proportionate and equitable amount of space and emphasis to each type, department, and section of the collection. He had it in mind, at least, to give as many pages over to poetry, for example, in proportion to prose, as many pages to fairy stories, for example, in proportion to myths, as would indicate roughly the average child's interests. If this proportion is not due and just, as the editor sometimes fears, it is to be hoped that critics will realize the web of difficulties in which such a task as this is entangled.
A word as to the classification and nomenclature. The editor realizes that this is neither original nor accurate. It is certainly not scientific, as the types overlap here and there, and the names are based partly on form and partly on content. But classification and class names were indispensable in a book of this nature, and it seemed a better policy to employ the classification and the names already firmly established in common use than to attempt to subject to a new system of scientific terms that which is by nature not amenable to scientific laws and scientific precision. The classification appears only in the Contents; it does not stand forth in the book itself.
It should be said, further, that the order in which the different types are placed in the book is more or less arbitrary, having been determined largely by the succession in which children take them up from year to year, beginning with the simpler forms and more childish themes, and somewhat by the principle of similarity and contrast in the types themselves. Needless to say, teachers will change the order in which the species and specimens are studied in accordance with any well-defined plan of their own.
A distinct service has been rendered, the editor hopes, by presenting the definitive and authoritative versions of all the selections given. This has meant a painstaking reading of every line in every selection and the collation with editions that are trustworthy. Every student of children's literature knows that it has been almost impossible to find exact readings, and that most selections have been distorted and garbled to suit the purposes of editors. No changes from the originals have here been made except to abridge in a few instances where it seemed imperative in a book intended for reading and discussion in classes of both sexes. The editions used and the changes made are given in the Notes.
The problems involved in selecting the best versions of certain stories and the best translations from other languages have been difficult. In general, the editor endeavored to choose the form which seemed to have the highest literary value. In cases where two translations seemed to possess equal merit, both are represented.
Every specimen of literature in this collection is a complete unit or is at least a section easily detached--like an Uncle Remus or an Arabian Nights story--from its original setting. This principle precluded the inclusion of extracts from such children's classics as _Gulliver's Travels_, _Robinson Crusoe_, and _Treasure Island_. No survey of children's literature is complete without an examination of such books as these; but they can easily be supplied in inexpensive editions and used as supplementary to this collection.
It is evident that not every masterpiece of writing for children could be included in this volume; but it is believed that no selection has been included that is not a masterpiece. This belief is based primarily on the fact that most of the specimens have been chosen and approved by generation after generation of children, culled out from the light and worthless as by an unerring hand, through the most pragmatic of tests.
The only distinct type of children's literature not represented in this collection is the drama, which is omitted because the editor was not able to find a dramatic unit that would satisfy the ideal he had in mind: that it be dramatic, that it be literary, that it be brief, yet complete within itself, and that it be an original selection, not a dramatization of some classic. For a similar reason no story of American Indian life was put into the collection, though this exclusion does not mean the omission of a type of literature. A large number of Indian stories, both of Indian folklore and myth, and of adventures with Indians, were carefully read; but not one of them, in the editor's opinion, came up to the standard of a masterpiece and was, at the same time, brief enough to be practicable for this book. Some undoubted masterpieces from literatures lying outside the recognized circle of the American child's "culture"--such, for example, as the Japanese folk stories--also have been omitted. Other splendid specimens of juvenile literature, as stories from Kipling's _Jungle Books_ and essays from Burroughs, have been omitted because of copyright restrictions.
No one realizes more clearly than does the editor of this collection that no single book can include all the material that a class studying children's literature should have before it. There are dozens of children's books, for example, that a class should know or know about. An appendix has therefore been placed at the end of this collection, which lists the reading indispensable to a student of children's literature. These books should be in the school library, easily accessible to the students, and they should be considered as an integral part of the body of children's literature.
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