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In Nature's infinite Book of Secrecy
A little I can read











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THE SUPPLEMENTARY READERS form a series of carefully graduated reading-books, designed to connect with any of the regular series of five or six Readers. These books, which are closely co-ordinated with the several Readers of the regular series, are: –

I. Easy Steps for Little Feet: Supplementary to First Reader. — In this book the attractive is the chief aim, and the pieces have been written and chosen with special reference to the feelings and fancies of early childhood.

II. Golden Book of Choice Reading: Supplementary to Second Reader. - This book presents a great variety of pleasing and instructive reading, consisting of child-lore and poetry, noble examples, and attractive object-readings.

III. Book of Tales; being School Readings Imaginative and Emotional: Supplementary to Third Reader.

In this book the youthful taste for the imaginative and emotional is fed with pure and noble creations drawn from the literature of all nations.

IV. Readings in Nature's Book: Supplementary to Fourth Reader. This book contains a varied collection of charming readings in natural history and botany, drawn from the works of the great modern naturalists and travelers.

V. Seven American Classics. VI. Seven British Classics.

The Classics" are suitable for reading in advanced grammar grades, and aim to instill a taste for the higher literature, by the presentation of gems of British and American authorship.


In the series of SUPPLEMENTARY READERS, the plan of which is given on the opposite page, the “READINGS IN NATURE'S BOOK" is designed to follow the Fourth of any of the regular series of Readers, — care being taken that such Fourth Reader is not used below the grade in which the Fourth in a series of five or six readers should be used. Specifically, the “READINGS IN NATURE's Book” is intended for pupils at about the middle of their grammar-school course.

That the book is unique will be manifest on examination of its contents. That it is much needed may perhaps be not less apparent from the following considerations : -

In the programme of school studies in most of our cities, a certain modicum of elementary nature-knowledge — embracing such topics as color, form, plants, animals, etc. - is prescribed to be taught without book under the title of “Oral Lessons.” But owing to the paucity of time allotted to these lessons, they can at best furnish the merest skeleton of science. That they afford an inadequate amount of instruction in science, is the conviction of most thoughtful educationists. At this very date of writing, the discussion, in various State institutes, of the importance of enlarging the scope of scientific instruction, is one of the hopeful and healthful signs of the times.

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Now, it appeared to the editors of this series that if the right kind of book could be prepared, it might have a very peculiar and double utility, - as supplementing both the oral science lessons and the ordinary literary reading.

But this aim, in turn, imposed a double demand : first, that the pieces in the book should be good science; and, secondly, that they should be good literature. Whether this rare conjunction has been secured, the teacher must decide ; but it may not be amiss to state briefly here what the editors have had in mind to do.

In the first place, the readings have been limited to two departments of nature, — plants and animals; a sufficient reason for this choice being that botany and natural history are the two chief topics of oral instruction prescribed in most programmes of public school study.

Secondly, the requirement of sound science has been secured by drawing the more systematic pieces from the recognized masters, — from such sources as Gray, Audubon, Wood, Figuier, Lee, Michelet, Broderip, Darwin, Gosse, Buckland, and others, their peers on the shining bead-roll of science. So much for the scope and sources of the readings.

But what gives the book its individuality is the principle on which the selections have been made. This is, in brief, to substitute the interesting in science for the technical in science, — to replace the classifications and terminology of the botanist and zoologist by the living forms of nature as represented in the large intelligible views, the stimulating narratives, and the charming fancies of those who have known nature best because they loved her most.

It has, for example, been left to “oral lessons” to teach pupils that an elephant is “a proboscidian pachydermatous mammifer,” and that a lion is of the “order feræ, family felidæ, and genus felis ;while we follow Sir Samuel Baker to the native haunts of the “ huge earth-shaker,” and thrill with horror as in his

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own pictured page we see Dr. Livingstone in the deadly embrace of the king of beasts. Not but that such technical epitomes as those cited are of very positive value in their place; but that place is at the crowning of the edifice of the pupil's knowledge, not at its commencement.

In the search for admirable and interesting pieces, the editors have laid under contribution the great body of the literature of natural history, exploration, and adventure, and have brought thence such spolia opima as perhaps no collection ever before showed. The wide eclecticism that has presided over the selection is sufficiently manifest by a reference to the contents, where will often be found, under a single topic, (a) a systematic treatment (Wood, Figuier, Buckland); (b) a literary treatment (Michelet, Broderip, Burroughs); (c) a personal treatment (Wilson, Bombonnel, Thoreau); and (d) a poetic treatment (Wordsworth, Bryant, Blake).

If to these we may add that there is a romantic treatment (as in the case of the elephant by Charles Reade, of the whale by Fenimore Cooper, and of the devil-fish by Victor Hugo), the fact will cause, not the adept, but only your novice, to “stare and gape;" for it is precisely the accomplished naturalist that best knows how thoroughly the three great novelists just named have plucked out the “heart of the mystery” of the creature whereof they wrote.

Wbile, however, the attractive and the enliveningly-instructive have been borne foremost in mind in the choice of these readings, the orderly marshaling of pieces has not been lost sight of; and probably the teachers the best read in botany and zoology will be the first to see that the book, while not presenting the formality of scientific division, has an organism of its

To such it will be apparent that the book contains the substantial outlines of vegetable physiology, and that the natural history readings are arranged with due reference to the hierarchy of animate forms; commencing, as they do, with the

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