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WORD STUDY.—The pupil should know how to spell and pronounce correctly all the words of the selection he is preparing to read. He should know their ordinary meanings and the special meanings they may have in the text. He should be able to write them correctly from dictation and to use them in sentences of his own. He should examine if they are primitive, derivative, or compound; he should be able to name the prefixes and suffixes and show how the meanings of the original words are modified by their use. He should cultivate the habit of word mastery. What is read will not otherwise be understood. Without it there can be no good reading, speaking or writing.
EXPRESSIVE READING.—There should be constant drill to secure correct pronunciation, distinct articulation, proper emphasis, and an agreeable tone of voice, without which there can be no expressive reading. This is a difficult task, and will take much time, trouble and practice; but it has far-reaching results. It enlarges the sympathy of the pupil and lays the foundation for a genuine love of literature. Do not, then, let the reading lesson drift into a dull and monotonous calling of words. On the contrary, let it be intelligent, spirited, enthusiastic. Emotion comes largely from the imagination. The pupil himself must be taught not only to feel what he reads, but to make its meaning clear to others. It is important that children be taught to acquire thought through the ear.
CONCERT READING.—Reading in concert is generally of little value, and the time given to it ill-spent. It does not aid the children in getting thought, or in expressing it fluently. As an exercise in teaching reading it is ineffective and often positively harmful. A concert recitation to which special training has been given partakes of the nature of a hymn or a song, and then becomes an element of value. If occasionally there must be concert reading in the class room, it should always be preceded by individual mastery of the selection.
POEMS.—In the first lesson, a poem, like a picture, should be presented as a whole, and never dissected. The teacher should first read it through, not stopping for note or comment. He should then read it again, part by part, stopping, for question, explanation and discussion. Lastly, the whole poem, should be read with suitable emotion, so that the final impression may be made by the author’s own words. It is important that the pupil get the message which the author intended to give. In teaching a descriptive poem, make the pictures as vivid as possible, and thus awaken the imagination. In dealing with a narrative poem, the sequence of events must first be made clear. When this is done, the aim should be to give fuller meaning to the story by bringing out clearly the causes, motives and results of acts. All this will take time. Be it so. One poem well read, well studied, is worth more than a volume carelessly read over. In reading poetry, be careful that the pupils, while giving the rhythm of the lines, do not fall into the singsong tone so common and so disagreeable.