The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
The "P.R." Letter Bag.

Volume 14, 1903, pgs. 153

[The Editor is not responsible for the opinions of Correspondents.]

Dear Editor,—Your correspondent, Mrs. Littleboy, asked in your December issue for other parents' experiences of stammering in children, and at what age children with this defect should be placed under special training. As in her own case, I have a boy of ten, who has inherited a tendency to stammering which has come down through at least three generations, but I am glad to say that, thanks to his doctor father's careful training, the tendency has almost entirely disappeared. It was noticeable first at about three years of age, and as he grew older and became more aware of it, we observed his desire to avoid going errands where he would have to give a message and he disliked saying grace at meals before strangers. From the very first, his father insisted on his repeating clearly and slowly every sentence in which there was any hesitation, and he was taught to inhale deeply, and thoroughly inflate the lungs before speaking. It often seemed cruel to oblige the child to give the message when he knew that he would stammer, or to check him in his eagerness to tell us something that interested him, and make him tell it slowly, but the seeming cruelty was only the veil of a wise kindness for which the boy can never be grateful enough when he grows older.

Our boy attends a large grammar school, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the mistress of the preparatory form, who never hurried him and always gave him time to speak slowly. His present form master says that he never stammers in school now, and he reads aloud unusually well.

All tendencies to stammer go hand in hand with a highly nervous organization, and if parents understood the unceasing care that must be exercised in each individual case, and the special home training that must begin before the tendency becomes a confirmed habit, we should have fewer of these sad cases that need a specialist's advice, sometimes too late to effect a cure.
42, Foregate Street, Worcester. J.
M. Read

Dear Editor,—A recent number of the Spectator contains the following passages:—"Would it be possible to establish some kind of a Standard Child's Library? would it, that is, be a possible and a useful undertaking to collect together some dozen or twenty books which the verdict of time has pronounced to be good rather than merely exciting—a child's book can be, but not often is, both—and which a child would be the happier for reading? . . . There is a large ethical question—or perhaps, we should say, a broad educational problem—underlying the simple question of the selection of a book to give a child . . . . children do not demand any particular kind of book; they take what they are given. They were delighted with Kate Greenaway twenty years ago; they could be taught to be delighted to-day. The responsibility. . . lies with the giver of the book, who is not a child. . . A child's book—a book belonging to the Child's Library—ought to have a certain nobility about it. The princes ought to be brave and the princesses beautiful; the men and women and children ought to do gracious things. . ." I venture to bring these passages to the notice of the readers of the Parents' Review in the hope that you may be able to open your columns to a discussion on this subject. Parents may be willing to communicate their experience as to what their children read; they may find time to express an opinion as to what books they consider most helpful to a child, and why. With this help it would be possible to select a certain number of books for a Standard Child's Library; and such a selection would bear more weight than any individual choice; for tastes and ideas differ;—but only to a certain extent. It cannot be doubted that there are certain books which all would acknowledge as standard books for children, if they knew them. Would it not be useful to discuss this question with a view to helping those who purchase children's books? For is not the choosing the most important thing in giving? It is difficult to estimate the influence of books on the young mind, but there can be no doubt that in many cases the heart, character and general disposition of the sentiments are materially affected for good or evil by the books of childhood. Of course it is those who have the guiding of young minds who are responsible. They should know what books are useful, what books harmful. Is it not possible to discuss this question in such a way that this time next year many children will, thanks to the Parents' Review, receive books beautiful enough in thought and illustration to teach their eager minds to see and love all that is good and noble in this world rather than what is trivial and worthless?

Yours, etc.,

G. L. F.

Proofread by Leslie Noelani Laurio, Feb 2009