While boys always choose a man as their hero, girls may choose either the masculine or feminine character. They are still near enough Nature’s heart to glory in wildness and abandon, and the subtle delicacy of true womanhood has not the charm for them now it will have later. Yet it is part of the priceless dower of motherhood to so share in the daughter’s life through sympathy and understanding that, to “be like mother” will embody all the aspirations of a girlish heart.
“The reading craze”
The flame of hero worship is fed from two sources—the life of some one near to the child and the passionate delight in reading which characterizes the years from about ten to fifteen and is especially marked from twelve to fourteen. The choice of books will naturally be governed by the strongest interests. We are not surprised, therefore, that every page must teem with life and chronicle some achievement, preferably in the physical realm, for in the thought of the junior, “Greater is he that taketh a city than he who ruleth his own spirit.”
Toward the latter part of this period the sentimental novel, with all of its froth and perverted ideals of life, appeals to the girl, and it is an open question which is more pernicious, “Deadwood Dick and the Indians” or “Love at Sight.”
When it is remembered that during these years the desire for reading is so great that it will be satisfied, surreptitiously if not openly, that the heroes and heroines strengthen ideals of their own type in the soul of the child, that these are the years in which taste is being formed, not only in reading but in living, nurture again has a great task outlined. “What is the best way to keep a boy from eating green apples?” a prominent Sunday School worker often asks in a convention. The answer never varies: “Give him ripe ones to eat.” The child who has plenty of well-selected, wholesome literature will have no appetite for the baneful. Biography of the heroic type, exploration, adventure and charming romances like the “Waverley Novels” will help to lay sane and pure foundations of character. The missionary boards are now putting out books as thrilling and stirring in their situations as any yellow-backed novel. These the children devour and the spiritual heroism makes its silent appeal along with the physical.
This delight in reading makes comparatively easy the formation of the habit of daily Bible reading. If the life is more than meat, then the time taken by the father or mother to select fascinating Bible biographies and stories, and tactfully to supervise the reading, is at least as wisely expended as that used in training a grape vine or sewing a lace edge on a ruffle. Is it not strange that there is such distorted perspective and false balance of values in regard to what is worth while? The cares of this world crowd out so many supreme things. Many a temptation in later life would have its antidote if the Holy Spirit could bring the needed Scripture to mind, but because some one substituted the lesser for the greater, solicitude for external appearance instead of inner furnishing, the Word is not there to be recalled.