Boys and Girls Bookshelf (Vol 2 of 17)

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From Introduction: "This volume is devoted to a choice collection of the standard and new fairy-tales, wonder stories, and fables. They speak so truly and convincingly for themselves that we wish to use this introductory page only to emphasize their value to young children. There are still those who find no room in their own reading, and would give none in the reading of the young, except for facts. They confuse facts and truth, and forget that there is a world of truth that is larger than the mere facts of life, being compact of imagination and vision and ideals. Dr. Hamilton Wright Mabie convinced us of this in his cogent words. -America,- he said, -has at present greater facility in producing -smart- men than in producing able men; the alert, quick-witted money-maker abounds, but the men who live with ideas, who care for the principles of things, and who make life rich in resource and interest, are comparatively few. America needs poetry more than it needs industrial training, though the two ought never to be separated. The time to awaken the imagination, which is the creative faculty, is early childhood, and the most accessible material for this education is the literature which the race created in its childhood.- The value of the fairy-tale and the wonder-tale is that they tell about the magic of living. Like the old woman in Mother Goose, they -brush the cobwebs out of the sky.- They enrich, not cheapen, life. Plenty of things do cheapen life for children. Most movies do. Sunday comic supplements do. Ragtime songs do. Mere gossip does. But fairy stories enhance life. They are called -folk-tales,- that is, tales of the common folk. They were largely the dreams of the poor. They consist of fancies that have illumined the hard facts of life. They find animals, trees, flowers, and the stars friendly. They speak of victory. In them the child is master even of dragons. He can live like a prince, in disguise, or, if he be uncomely, he may hope to win Beauty after he is free of his masquerade. Wonder-stories help make good children as well as happy children. In these stories witches, wolves, and evil persons are defeated or exposed. Fairy godmothers are ministers of justice. The side that the child wishes to triumph always does triumph, and so goodness always is made to seem worth-while. Almost every fairy-tale contains a test of character or shrewdness or courage. Sharp distinctions are made, that require a child of parts to discern. And the heroes of these nursery tales are much more convincing than precepts or golden texts, for they impress upon the child not merely what he ought to do, but what nobly has been done. And the small hero-worshiper will follow where his admirations lead."
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