McGuffey’s Second Eclectic Reader
The second reader begins with a lesson on articulation, with instructions for the teacher, seven exercises, and a model for class drill. This is followed by 71 language arts lessons, based upon character-building stories, essays, and poetry. Each paragraph or stanza is numbered, which makes it very easy to assign portions of a passage or poem as copywork, recitation, or narration.
In this reader, students will find spelling words listed at the beginning of each lesson. In “Practice Spelling with McGuffey Readers,” I have provided an overview of how to practice spelling. Most stories and nonfiction pieces are followed by a few questions about the text (comprehension questions). You may choose whether or not to use these. I strongly dislike standard comprehension questions, so would not use them, but many of the questions are consistent with Charlotte Mason’s methods, as Cathy Duffy notes in her review. For other questions, I would substitute narration or a simple conversation about the story or poem. The nice thing about the second reader, as with the rest of the series, is that you may adapt it to suit your needs.
New introduction with instructions for use with Charlotte Mason methods
An effective way to use these readers is to use Charlotte Mason’s language arts methods of copywork, recitation, and narration for any of the lessons presented. Instructions for each of these methods is found in the new 18-page introduction that has been added to this edition. Like Miss Mason, Mr. McGuffey believed in short lessons, learned well, so the Readers provide a convenient source for age-appropriate material to use with Miss Mason’s methods.
Features of the second reader
In the preface to the second reader, the original publisher of the 1857 edition describes the book’s new features:
This book is intended as the Second in the remodeled Series of the Eclectic Readers.
New Material: A large quantity of matter entirely new, and highly interesting and instructive, has been introduced.
Short Lessons: The lessons are short, the language simple, the subjects interesting, and especially attractive to children. At the same time, it has been made an important object to append valuable instruction, and to exercise a healthy moral influence upon the mind of the learner.
The Spelling Exercises are composed of words taken from the reading matter, and placed at the head of each lesson. Difficult words are often repeated, as this is the only method of fixing them in the mind.
In the earlier lessons of this Reader, as in the New First Reader, words of more than one syllable are divided by the hyphen into their proper parts, thus very much facilitating instruction in reading.
Articulation is taught extensively in this book, and forms an important feature. In the introductory article, there are graduated exercises; also, between the lessons, there are exercises including practice on the vowel and consonant elements. A foundation for correct and distinct articulation can not be laid too early.
The Reading Matter has been derived from the best sources; but many of the selections have been re-written, and especially adapted to the position they occupy in the progressive arrangement of the Series.
On a personal note, the last lesson in the second reader is the “Ten Commandments in Verse.” I always wondered why my grandfather could so easily remember the commandments in the proper order, and I believe this was why. Here and throughout the readers, McGuffey uses the power of rhyme not only to help students memorize, but also to help them see patterns in spelling and practice clear articulation. The things my grandfather learned from the McGuffey’s when he was young stayed with him all his life.
Literacy, virtue, and values
Like the other readers in the series, McGuffey’s second reader helps you teach language arts using stories, poems, essays, and speeches that reinforce virtues such as courage, honor, diligence, stewardship, independence, frugality, perseverance, and kindness. Whether you use them as a primary instructional tool or simply as a supplement to your curriculum, I think you’ll find the 1857 McGuffey Readers a valuable addition to your home library and classroom.
McGuffey’s Second Eclectic Reader ISBN: 978-1-61322-016-0
Published by Everyday Education, LLC, 2013.
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