IN dealing with the subject of school libraries at a meeting of educationalists, it will be quite unnecessary to advance any arguments in praise of reading. I do not anticipate that any here will attempt to controvert the dicta of the greatest minds on the benefits to be derived from reading. Rather would I sound a note of warning. After all that has been said in praise of books and reading, of the pleasures and profit reading can bring, there is nothing with which you have to deal in the present day that calls for more careful regulation, more vigilant watchfulness. Printing, like all other good things, is not an unmixed blessing; for while bestowing blessings with one hand, it distributes something very like curses with the other. Just think for one moment of the enormous mass of garbage that is daily turned out by the Press—the halfpenny “funnies” and “comics,” and the still more objectionable “stories.” These are the things which fall into the hands of children at the most impressionable period of their lives, and exercise the most lamentable influence on their future character. That is the darker side of the picture, but it is there that the influence and guidance of the teacher is more urgently required. The great argument in favour of school or juvenile libraries is that children shall have access to good books; that by the help of the teacher they shall learn to so enjoy and appreciate the good that they will instinctively reject the bad. It is very desirable if you wish to take full advantage of your opportunities that you should acquire some general knowledge of juvenile literature. I do not mean that you should lay yourselves out to read all the books; life is much too short; but there is a method of skipping through a book which is well known to librarians and, I believe, also to reviewers, by which it is possible to quickly gain an insight of its contents, the author's style and manner of treatment, which will be quite sufficient for your purpose. Beware, I beseech you, of the goody‐goody style of books of a generation ago; present day children won't read them (I very much doubt if children ever did, I didn't). You will probably be impressed with the dearth of good, healthy girls' books; but that need not trouble you, they will read and enjoy the books provided for their brothers.
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