The Author’s Address to the Pupil.
1. I present to you, my little friend, a new book, to assist you in learning to read. I do not intend that it shall be a book full of hard words, which you do not understand.
2. I do not think it proper to require children to read what they cannot understand. I shall, therefore, show you how you may understand what is in this book, and how you may be able, with very little assistance from your teacher, to read all the hard words, not only in this book, but also in any book which you may hereafter take up.
3. But first let me repeat to you a saying, which, when I was a little boy, and went to school, my teacher used to repeat to me. He said that any one might lead a horse to the water, but no one could make him drink. The horse must do that himself. He must open his own mouth, and draw in the water, and swallow it, himself.
4. And so it is with anything which I wish to teach you. I can tell you many things which it will be useful for you to know, but I cannot open your ears and make you hear me. I cannot turn your eyes so that they will look at me when I am talking to you, that you may listen to me. That, you must do yourself; and if you do not do it, nothing that I can say to you, or do for you, will do you any good.
5. Many little boys and girls, when their teacher is talking to them, are in the habit of staring about the school-room, or looking at their fellow-pupils, or, perhaps, slyly talking to them or laughing with them, when they ought to be listening to what their teacher is saying.
6. Others, perhaps, may appear to be looking at their teacher, while, at the same time, they are thinking about tops and marbles, or kites and dolls, and other play-things, and have no more idea of what their teacher is saying to them than if he were not in the room.
7. Now, here is a little picture, from which I wish to teach you a very important lesson. The picture represents a nest, with four little birds in it. The mother bird has just been out to get some food for them. The little birds, as soon as their mother returns, begin to open their mouths wide, and the mother drops some food from her bill into the mouth of each one; and in this manner they are all fed, until they are old enough to go abroad and find food for themselves.
8. Now, what would these little birds do, if, when their mother brings them their food, they should keep their mouths all shut, or, perhaps, be feeling of one another with their little bills, or crowding each other out of the nest?
9. You know that they would have to go without their food; for their mother would not open their mouths for them, nor could she swallow their food for them. They must do that for themselves, or they must starve.
10. Now, in the same manner that little birds open their mouths to receive the food which their mother brings to them, little boys and girls should have their ears open to hear what their teachers say to them.