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Children's Book Week, November 13–19, 1921

THE third observance of Children's Book Week will begin on November 13, and during these seven days many agencies, such as the public libraries, the schools, the churches, the General Federation of Women's Clubs, the Boy Scouts, and the Girl Scouts, will direct attention to the fact that books are about the best friends one can have—and there are few people who do not want to make as many good and lasting friendships as they can. Most readers of St. NICHOLAs probably do not need this special urge to read and own books, but they can do their share in spreading the joy there is in good literature by telling their friends what is worth reading. In this same number of St. NICHOLAS Hildegarde Hawthorne says, “Training your capacity for reading, your understanding of the fine things of literature, is another sure pathway toward your happiness job. . . . The love of books is a great love, a great power for happiness, and you can train yourself to find that love.” Boys and girls of this generation, so some

timated in the books especially written for them, and their parents were apt to think the books they themselves enjoyed were too old for their children. Then some people began to realize children had a greater capacity than they had been credited with for understanding and appreciating what was fine in literature. It was the realization of this that brought about the founding of St. NICHOLAS exactly forty-eight years ago. And with a champion of the boys and girls in the field, authors were encouraged to write for children, and thus a great impetus was given to the publication of books for young readers. To-day there is a rich field to browse in, and, instead of half a dozen volumes, there are hundreds to satisfy the hunger for information, entertainment, and culture that seizes so many of the million and a half boys and girls in this country who come into the reading age every year. We are told by one leading authority among librarians that America is giving more thought to the subject of children's reading than is any other country. So perhaps this may

be called the golden age of literature for boys and girls. Certainly it is, as compared with other days and years, and only so long ago as the time of Lincoln's boyhood. In the ST. NICHOLAS LEAGUE this month one contributor writes, as her favorite episode in American history, the story of the book which Lincoln borrowed, and, as it became damaged while in his possession, had to work three days to pay for. Lincoln

Courtesy of Four Sens Co.

of the older folks say, are living in a fortunate age. These fathers and mothers and grandfathers and grandmothers tell that when they were boys and girls the choice of books for their special delectation was limited. Their intelligence was usually underes

loved his books. He preferred them to hunting, trapping, and other frontier sports that attracted his companions. His private book-case was between the logs next to his bed; and the books kept there were the Bible, “Aosop's Fables,” “Robinson Crusoe,” “Pilgrim's Progress,” and Weems's “Life of Washington.” Lincoln read his books over and over, and made each one a choice and lasting friend. The style of the authors who became his teachers, so to speak, gave him a command of precise English which has never been excelled, and rarely equaled by any writer. Another American


sketch is reproduced the room of Betsy Peirce in the famous mansion of her family in old Salem (one of Samuel McIntire's works of art). The first glance into this charming room reveals the hanging book-shelves and their full cargo of well-thumbed volumes.

boy, one who climbed the heights of literary and editorial fame— Thomas Bailey Aldrich—leaves us a record of his boyhood days at his grandfather's housein Portsmouth, N.H., and the photograph of his own room, reproduced on this page, is described in his book, “The Story of a Bad Boy,” which, by the way, was published serially in 1869 in “Our Young Folks,” a magazine later taken over by St. NICHOLAS. The room in the Nutter house is the same as it was then, for it is now the Aldrich Memorial. The paper, with its two hundred and sixty-eight birds (“not counting those split in two where the paper was badly joined”), is still on the wall; there are a small bed covered with a patchwork quilt, a chest of carved mahogany drawers, and, most important of all, over the head of the bed a book-shelf on which young Tom kept his books. “Shall I ever forget the hour,” he asks, “when I first overhauled my books? The thrill that ran through my fingers' ends then has not run out yet. Many a time did I steal up to this nest of a room, and, taking the dog's-eared volume from its shelf, glide off into an enchanted realm, where there were no lessons to get and no boys to smash my kite.” This early contact with books turned Aldrich toward literary rather than commercial aspirations. In reading his biography it is not surprising to find he remained in his uncle's bank but three years, forsaking business for writing and editing. Early volumes of St. NICHOLAs contain verse and stories from his pen, and later numbers record biographical sketches which show that he was a healthy, happy, unspoiled lad. Girls of New England had their private book-cases as well as the boys, and with this


As boys and girls in each generation play the same games their fathers and mothers did, it is not surprising that the sense of ownership and the treasuring of one's own things come as naturally. That books often head the list of our best-loved possessions is not strange. Our librarians, especially children's librarians, are often called upon to be book counselors as well as book distributors, and through their guidance many a book-shelf such as Thomas Bailey Aldrich had finds its way to the walls of the rooms of American boys and girls. May good books to fill these shelves and enrich their young owners' minds increase from year to year!

AND as a postscript to Children's Book Week in America, it will be of interest also to know that in England in this very month of November important notice of children and their books will be taken. A five-act comedy by Lord Lytton, “Not So Bad As We Seem,” first given, with a cast which included Charles Dickens, in 1851 before Queen Victoria, will be revived for a special performance. The proceeds (which are likely to be large, for the least expensive seat is $26) will go toward rescuing Dickens' boyhood home from decay and furnishing it as a library, so that the children of this poor quarter of London (the kind of children the great novelist knew and loved, for he once lived among them), may have some books


of their own and a pleasant, quiet place in which to read them. The project is being organized by the Children's Libraries Movement, of which the American ambassador is honorary president. G. F. Thomson.


MOTHER EARTH has a lot of children, black ones and white ones, brown ones and yellow ones and red ones—such a lot that you ’d hardly think she could feed them all and clothe them and keep them warm. Now all

no men in our house, but only queer-looking animals such as you and I have never seen. Do you know how she made the coal? Well, she took a lot of leaves and ferns when they dropped to the ground, and as they began


these children of hers are divided into various groups and live in houses of different kinds and sizes. We live with our Uncle Sam in a large and wonderful house called The United States of America. There are forty-eight rooms in this house, some folks call them forty-eight States, -and in the rooms are “all the modern conveniences.” For instance, there is running water (rivers and streams) in every room. Under some of the rooms are the coal-bins. Mother Earth has been filling them for us during all the long centuries since the world was young, since the time when there were

to decay she covered them over with sand and dirt. This kept all the moisture out, and in the course of time, as other layers of sand and dirt were piled on top, the mass of vegetation grew harder and blacker, and harder and blacker, and to-day we call it coal. Mother Earth is still making coal in some places—for instance, in the Dismal Swamp of Virginia and North Carolina, and in the peat-bogs of Ireland. Before the coal is hard and black it is called peat. You will see from the map under what parts of our national house our coal-bins lie. Do you live in a room which is over a coal-bin?



NOVEMBER, 1921, will be a famous month in history. The international conference at Washington for discussion of the possibility of limiting armaments and of the relations of the powers interested in the lands that border on the Pacific Ocean will make it so.

Secretary Hughes, after a long correspondence with the Governments that will be represented, suggested a number of topics for discussion. One of them was the future of Russia. How shall her territorial integrity be guaranteed? In other words, what arrangements can be made to preserve the Russian people and to enable them to establish a government that will give the people peace and an opportunity to work for their own welfare? Probably the powers will have to act as trustees for Russia until such a government has been set up. Russia cannot continue as she is without danger to all the nations.

Affairs in China are of great concern to the other nations. What is the real government of China—the one at Peking or the one at Canton? the old government or the new, republican one? China has always been subject to exploitation by foreign powers; can the conference work out some fair arrangement that will enable China to enjoy what is rightfully hers? Can the other nations get together in a way that will help China's development?

The islands of the Pacific present many questions of supreme interest to England, Japan, and the United States. Should they be fortified, and if so on what terms? Should different nations be allowed to exert special influence or control in different regions, or should all nations be permitted to trade without preference of one over another?

A Review of Current Events By EDWARD N. TEALL

As things are now, the United States has special influence in the Philippines; Australia and New Zealand keep to themselves the former German islands in the south Pacific. There must be an agreement about immigration, and the matter of cable communications is vitally important. The future of Siberia is another topic of great interest. It represents some of the difficulties the conference must meet, and some of the great advantages that will result from this remarkable meeting of representatives of the strongest powers. Japan's interest in Siberia is such that she may well hesitate to discuss it openly with delegates from other countries. It is a delicate subject. But just because it is that, there is the more to be gained from full and frank discussion. Better to have the subject thrashed out at the conference table and come to a fair understanding, than to wait for conflict to develop from the clash of national interests. Of course, the conference cannot help being connected in the public mind with the League of Nations. There is no reason why the League and the conference should be anything but helpful to each other. The League has done nothing but good in the world, but the League cannot do what this conference, with the United States Government represented in it, can do. The one thing to be hoped for is that the conference will not try to do too much. If it can bring about an understanding among the great powers that will lead to a marked reduction of the tremendous expenditures for navies and lighten the load of taxation for military establishments, and if it can result in a clear and open understanding among the governments of what international relations are to be in and about the Pacific

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