This section is from the "The New Student's Reference Work Volume 5: How And Why Stories" by Elinor Atkinson.
Editors' Note to Mother and Teacher.—The study of descriptive and political Geography is introduced into the very first year of school, through travel stories. The first interest that little children show in other people and lands, is in the way other children live, particularly those of primitive peoples like the Indians and Esquimos, and people whose ways of living are radically different from their own. Geography teaching now takes advantage of this curiosity, on the part of the children, to introduce them to the general study. In this way they get a knowledge of the physical appearance, manners and customs, climate, products and transportation of other peoples and countries, in addition to some history and physiography. The supplementary reading with the geographical aspect, supplied to the lower grades, is very wide and comprehensive. To cover all that is supplied, requires the purchase of a great number of little supplementary readers, each at a cost of from thirty to fifty cents.
This geographical department covers the most essential and attractive features of any one dozen supplementary readers, and has, besides, a unity of plan that none of the readers possess. The plan is to present primitive America, when it was inhabited only by the red child, then to bring the other children in, over the sea, in the chronological order of the colonization and settlement of the United States. The order followed here is the Indian, the English Puritan, the French, the Dutch and the Negro. The Esquimo peoples were visited very early by the New England whalers, and the Spanish colonists by trading vessels that went to Havana.
When once the sea-board was peopled, came the period of the hunter in Kentucky. There the experience of Daniel Boone is taken as typical. This paved the way for the pioneer of the Lincoln period. During this time there were large migrations of German and Irish peoples. The discovery of gold carries the settlement of the United States to the Pacific coast. The subsequent development of California, as it is today, follows.
Once having reached the Pacific coast, curiosity is led to take the world-round journey, to visit the children of the yellow and brown races, and the children of the Desert and the Alps. The world journey is logically completed by the return to the New York City of today, and a description of Castle Garden, where more than a million people of foreign lands are still entering America every year. This last feature is not to be found in any child's reader on the market.
The object, in these nineteen sketches, has been to present typical pictures of such facts as children are curious about, that will furnish a complete image that they are likely to retain, and upon which they can build further knowledge. There is also the object of creating sympathy, and consequent breadth of mind. The travelled person is always a man of wider culture and sympathy, than is the same man if he should stay at home and never come in contact with any other mode of living or thought than that in which he was born. This creating of sympathy with other people is of extreme importance in a country like ours, which is constantly being recruited by foreign peoples. We are far too apt to under-rate these newcomers, and to think that we are offering them all and receiving nothing in return. As a matter of fact there are no people who come to us but have some gift or contribution that they can make to the general welfare and pleasure.