Geographical Reader Prefaces

Geographical Reader Prefaces

Book I for Standard II; Elementary Geography


This little book is written on the lines laid down by the Old Code for the Geography of Standard II. It is confined to very simple reading lessons upon “the Form and Motions of the Earth, the Points of the Compass, the Meaning of a Map: Definitions.” The writer is unable to conceive of any other course of early lessons so practically useful and necessary.

The shape and motions of the earth are fundamental ideas—however difficult to grasp.

Geography should be learned chiefly from maps, and the child should begin the study by learning “the meaning of a map,” and how to use it.

These subjects are well fitted to form an attractive introduction to the study of Geography: some of them should awaken the delightful interest which attaches in a child’s mind to that which is wonderful—incomprehensible. The Map lessons should lead to mechanical efforts, equally delightful. It is only when presented to the child for the first time in the form of stale knowledge and foregone conclusions that the facts taught in these lessons appear dry and repulsive to him.

An effort is made in the following pages to treat the subject with the sort of sympathetic interest and freshness which attracts children to a new study.

A short summary of the chief points in each reading lesson is given in the form of questions and answers.

Easy verses, illustrative of the various subjects, are introduced, in order that the children may connect pleasant poetic fancies with the phenomena upon which “Geography” so much depends.

It is hoped that these reading lessons may afford intelligent teaching, even in the hands of a young pupil teacher.

The first ideas of Geography—the lessons on “Place”—which should make the child observant of local geography, of the features of his own neighbourhood, its heights and hollows and level lands, its streams and ponds—should be conveyed vivâ voce. At this stage, a class-book cannot take the place of an intelligent teacher. Probably, however, this kind of matter is usually taught to the children in Standard I., or to the elder children of an Infant-school.

C. M. M.

Book II for Standard III; The British Empire and the Great Divisions of the Globe


Children should be familiar with the Map of the World before the geography of any division of the earth’s surface is studied in detail, and perhaps the year in “Standard III.” is a good time in which to lay this foundation for geographical knowledge.

“The situation of the several parts of the earth is better learned by one day’s conversing with a map, than by merely reading the description of their situation a hundred times over in a book of geography.”—Dr. Watts, ‘On the Improvement of the Mind.’

It is hoped this little book may prove of use as a “Child’s Guide to the Map of the World.” The object of the reading lessons is to associate ideas of interest with the various States and regions of the world, with the situation of which the children are made familiar; and, at the same time, to convey in simple language a few of the leading facts and principles of Geography.

The parts of the British Empire are treated in detail; these, being widely scattered, are best studied in connection with the divisions of the earth to which they belong.

It is proposed that only the chapters relating to the British Empire should be studied for examination purposes, the rest of the book being read by the class to promote intelligence in their special work.

C. M. M.

Book III for Standard IV; The Counties of England


English children should have such a familiar and intimate knowledge of the geography of their own country as would make a railway journey a delight; and this is especially the case in these days when “cheap trips” afford opportunities “to see for themselves” to persons whose eyes have been opened by previous instruction.

The following chapters are an attempt to make the landscape, industries, and associations of the several counties familiar conceptions to children; as it appears to the writer that the only way in which “England” can be practically known is, county by county. Certainly no other mode of treatment is equally interesting,—so curiously individual in its aspect, history, and employments is each of the forty shires.

The geography of England embraces such various knowledge, that it appears to be a subject better suited to the intelligence of children of ten and eleven, than to that of the younger children in Standard III. Still, as the language of this book is easy with a view to promote fluent reading, teachers who preferred to use it for Standard III. would not find the reading lessons to present any difficulty.

An effort is made to awaken intelligent interest in the chief crafts by which English people live.

It is hoped that the notices of great men or of noble deeds which belong to many of the counties may stimulate patriotic feeling.

The physical geography of the country is taken up as “common information,” without the “precision of statement” which belongs to scientific teaching: it is hoped, however, that the data gathered in this way may serve as a basis for such teaching. The maps which illustrate each chapter are on a uniform scale, to convey a just idea of the relative size of the counties.

It is earnestly recommended that teachers should require their classes to answer the set of map questions belonging to each county-map in writing; and, afterwards, vivâ voce, from memory. This exercise should secure an exact as well as intelligent knowledge of the geography of the several counties, and would furnish capital home work. The questions upon the map of the county should be answered before the lessons upon it are read; the children will thus be prepared to read with intelligent understanding, and will perceive that the text covers each county, bit by bit, in regular topographical order. A wall map of England should be used when the lessons are read.

The general outlines of the geography of England are, it is supposed, already known by the class, as this is a subject better adapted for oral teaching than for a class Reader.

It is a source of regret that, for want of space, much matter is left out, fully as interesting and important as that which appears. Indeed, it has been found necessary greatly to reduce a larger work which was at first prepared for a school reading book.

The authorities consulted, and the sources from which information has been derived, are too numerous for the writer to do more than make here a general grateful acknowledgment.

C. M. M.
Manningham, 1880.

Book IV for Standard V; The Countries of Europe


“Geography and Elementary Science. The best reading books for higher standards are those which are descriptive and explanatory, … and contain a sufficient amount and variety of interesting matter.”[1]

It is told of Dr. Arnold that, when a place new to him was mentioned in his hearing, he was uneasy until he had gathered facts enough to present a picture of the spot to his mind’s eye. The writer has tried, in the following lessons, to excite and to gratify this kind of curiosity; to give such panoramic views of the natural divisions of each of the countries of Europe that the learner should be able to construct, roughly, the landscape of any tract pointed out on a blank map; a kind of exercise, by the way, which teachers would find extremely interesting and useful to their classes.

The choice of material has proved a serious difficulty in treating of a subject where so much offers itself while so little can be made use of; and it is a source of regret that much matter has been cut out, as interesting and important as that which appears. The principle the writer has worked on is to treat fully of those matters which the traveller and the general reader seek to be instructed upon, and to eschew the “dry bones” which commonly represent “Geography” to the learner. At the same time, pains have been taken to present a faithful and fairly complete picture of the physical aspect and the social condition of each of the European States.

A framework of dry bones must be provided, however; for the learner cannot follow a description of the aspect of a country with any intelligence until he knows the relative situations and the names of mountain range and river, province and sea-port; but these are facts which should be learnt from the map, and not from the text-book.

“The situation of the several parts of the earth is better learned by one day’s conversing with a map than by merely reading the description of their situation a hundred times over in books of geography.”[2]

Therefore it is earnestly recommended that teachers should cause their classes to answer the questions which accompany each map before reading the corresponding lessons. By this means the learners will work out for themselves a capital outline of the geography of each country; and nothing could be better as a preparation for examinations, seeing that three-fourths of the questions usually set by examiners are only to be answered from map-knowledge.

These map-exercises make very good home work, or silent class work. The questions should be answered in writing from the accompanying map; then, vivâ voce, from memory; and again, after the lessons upon a country have been read, the class should be required to answer the map-questions on paper, filling in the outline with the facts learned from the text—a valuable exercise in composition.

While endeavouring to make clear statements, and to use simple language, the writer has not been careful to give the sort of “cut-and-dried” explanation of every allusion, which leads children to suppose that there is nothing more to be learnt. Grown-up people find hints of matters of which they know nothing great incentives to further reading: it is hoped that these Readers may help to form in the children a taste and desire for such profitable reading as of books of travel and general history; and, “That is something for you to read about by-and-by,” is a suggestion from the teacher which should bear fruit in the after lives of his pupils.

Though prepared primarily for elementary schools, this little work will probably be found useful in those of a higher grade, as furnishing an intelligent ground-work for junior pupils, who are afterwards to be prepared for the Universities’ Local, or other public examinations.

Many authorities have been laid under contribution, and the writer begs to offer her grateful acknowledgments to the authors whose works she has ventured to draw upon for an educational object; as well as to the friends who have favoured her with original letters.

In those cases where a single work has been followed, or cited more than once in the course of a lesson, the title of the work is given in a foot-note; but the writer regrets that it is not possible to acknowledge individually the very numerous sources from which she has drawn her facts.

For the lessons on the Seasons, &c., required by the present Code, the writer has extended and amplified matter prepared for an earlier Reader, seeing that it is not possible to treat these difficult subjects in too simple language for children who approach them for the first time.

As the examinable matter bears but a small proportion to the bulk of the volume, which is largely filled with narrative and description, it is suggested that teachers should cause their classes to mark the passages containing geographical facts on their first reading, so that these may be the more readily, afterwards, prepared for examination.

C. M. M.
Manningham, 1883.

Book V; The Old and The New World


In this, as in former numbers of this series, the author has tried to bring before the children vivid pictures of the regions treated of, and familiar ideas as to the manner of life of the people who dwell in those regions. Further than this, her aim has been to furnish such interesting and attractive lessons as should promote in the children a taste for reading.

She wishes to commend, again, the Map Questions to the notice of teachers.

Also, she would take this opportunity to express her grateful thanks for the hearty reception given to the earlier numbers of the series by persons well qualified to appraise its educational value.

The writer begs to acknowledge her obligations to the authors and publishers of the very numerous works to which she is indebted for information.

Especially she begs to thank the publishers of those works, the titles of which appear in footnotes, from which she has been generously permitted to make citations.

Manningham, 1884.

[1] Instructions to Her Majesty’s Inspectors, Circular 212, 1882.

[2] Dr. Watts On the Improvement of the Mind.

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