Character Building - Reading
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
IT is impossible to impress too strongly upon parents the importance of inculcating in their children the habit of reading. This means something more than the habit of reading newspapers and current periodicals or current novels. It means the love of good books and of using them. It means delight in communing with great intellects and noble and beautiful characters, and satisfaction in storing the mind with thoughts and facts which may be of service but will, at any rate, be a source of enjoyment.
Reading, to be of much benefit, must be done seriously and studiously. Careless, indolent, desultory reading may be and often is of no benefit whatever. We know a man who, for forty years, has been a great reader of newspapers, magazines, and inferior books; perhaps he has read on an average four hours a day for thirty years. He is now more than fifty years of age, but he is not wise or even well-informed. Another man-a Lincoln, for instance-may acquire clearness and strength of mind by reading and re-reading a dozen good books.
Boys and girls should learn to read with deep interest, with a mind awake, alert, and vigorous. They should consider the meaning of words as well as sentences. "More is gained in knowledge and mental discipline from one good book on which the earnest thought and energy of the mind settles than from a whole library skimmed over or read carelessly."
Young folks should learn to read closely and thoughtfully, analyzing every subject as they go along and laying it up care-fully and safely in their memories. By all means do a little careful reading every day, if it is but a sentence or two. Never allow yourself to go to sleep at night unless you are conscious of at least one important thing you have learned during the day.
In the Library, Volume X, there are several helpful articles on reading, for the older boys and girls, and among them are the following: "On Readers and Books," by Henry van Dyke; "The Art of Reading," by H. W. Mabie; "How to Use Books," by Brother Azarias; and "Reading for Girls," by Eliza Chester.
The biographies of Elihu Burritt and Harriet Beecher Stowe in Volume IX will be stimulating to the young student of literature. We also advise a careful perusal of the General Introduction in Volume I. And the "Lists of Best Books" at the close of each volume of the Library, supplementing the subject-matter, ought to assist in the intelligent selection of books along given lines.