Nature Myths and Stories for Little Children, p.1
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NATURE MYTHS AND STORIES FOR LITTLE CHILDREN
by FLORA J. COOKE
_A. Flanagan, Publisher._
FOR LITTLE CHILDREN
BY FLORA J. COOKE of the Cook County Normal School Chicago
CHICAGO A. FLANAGAN, PUBLISHER.
COPYRIGHT 1895 BY FLORA J. COOKE.
Feeling the great need of stories founded upon good literature, whichare within the comprehension of little children, I have written thefollowing stories, hoping that they may suggest to primary teachers thegreat wealth of material within our reach. Many teachers, who firmlybelieve that reading should be something more than mere _word-getting_while the child's _reading habit_ is forming, are practically helplesswithout the use of a printing press. We will all agree that myths andfables are usually beautiful truths clothed in fancy, and the dress isalmost always simple and transparent.
Who can study these myths and not feel that nature has a new languagefor him, and that though the tales may be thousands of years old, theyare quite as true as they were in the days of Homer. If the trees andthe flowers, the clouds and the wind, all tell wonderful stories to thechild he has sources of happiness of which no power can deprive him.
And when we consider that here, too, is the key which unlocks so much ofthe best in art and literature, we feel that we cannot rank too highlythe importance of the myth in the primary schoolroom.
For instance the child has been observing, reading, and writing aboutthe sun, the moon, the direction of the wind, the trees, the flowers, orthe forces that are acting around him. He has had the songs, poems, andpictures connected with these lessons to further enhance his thought,interest, and observation.
He is now given a beautiful myth. He is not expected to interpret it. Itis presented for the same purpose that a good picture is placed beforehim. He feels its beauty, but does not analyze it.
If, through his observation or something in his experience, he _does seea meaning_ in the story he has entered a new world of life and beauty.
Then comes the question to every thoughtful teacher, "Can the repetitionof words necessary to the growth of the child's vocabulary be obtainedin this way?"
This may be accomplished if the teacher in planning her year's work,sees a close relation between the science, literature, and number work,so that the same words are always recurring, and the interest in eachline of work is constant and ever increasing.
The following stories are suggested in the standard books of mythologyand poetry, and have been tested and found to be very helpful in thefirst and third grades. A full list of myths, history stories and fairytales for the children in the different grades can be found in Emily J.Rice's Course of Study in History and Literature, which can be obtainedof A. Flanagan, No. 262 Wabash avenue, Chicago.
ANIMAL STORIES:-- Donkey and the Salt } 59 Fox and the Stork } _Adapted from AEesop_ 91 Grateful Foxes 43 _Adapted from Edwin Arnold's Poem. Permission of Chas. Scribners' Sons._ How the Spark of Fire Was Saved 79 _Adapted from John Vance Cheney's Poem._ How the Chipmunk Got the Stripes on Its Back 89 _Adapted from Edwin Arnold's Poem._ An Indian Story of the Mole 77
BIRD STORIES:-- An Indian Story of the Robin 26 _Adapted from Whittier's Poem, "How the Robin Came."_ How the Robin's Breast Became Red 24 The Red-headed Woodpecker 29 _Adapted from Phoebe Cary's Poem._
CLOUD STORIES:-- Palace of Alkinoos 36 _Adapted from the Odyssey._ Swan Maidens 54
FLOWER STORIES:-- Clytie 9 Golden-rod and Aster 13
INSECT STORIES:-- Arachne 19 Aurora and Tithonus 22 King Solomon and the Ants 18 _Adapted from Whittier's Poem._ King Solomon and the Bee 16 _Adapted from Saxe's Poem._
MINERALOGY STORIES:-- Sisyphus 33 The Story of the Pudding Stone 31
SUN MYTHS:-- Balder 83 Persephone 48 _Adapted from "Story of Persephone," told by Helen Ericson, class of 1895, Cook County, (Ill.), Normal School._ Phaethon 39
TREE STORIES:-- Daphne 74 Fairy Story 66 Philemon and Baucis 71 Poplar Tree 56 The Secret of Fire 61
MISCELLANEOUS STORIES:-- Hermes 97 Iris' Bridge 101 Prometheus 92
Clytie was a beautiful little water nymph who lived in a cave at thebottom of the sea. The walls of the cave were covered with pearls andshells. The floor was made of sand as white as snow.
There were many chairs of amber with soft mossy cushions. On each sideof the cave-opening was a great forest of coral. Back of the cave wereClytie's gardens.
Here were the sea anemones, starfish and all kinds of seaweed.
In the garden grotto were her horses. These were the gentlest goldfishand turtles.
The ocean fairies loved Clytie and wove her dresses of softest green sealace.
With all these treasures Clytie should have been happy, but she was not.She had once heard a mermaid sing of a glorious light which shone on thetop of the water.
She could think of nothing else, but longed day and night to know moreof the wonderful light.
No ocean fairy dared take her to it, and she was afraid to go alone.
One day she was taking her usual ride in her shell carriage. The waterwas warm and the turtles went so slowly that Clytie soon fell asleep. Onand on they went, straight towards the light, until they came to anisland.
As the waves dashed the carriage against the shore Clytie awoke. Sheclimbed out of the shell and sat down upon a large rock. She had neverseen the trees and flowers.
She had never heard the birds chirping or the forest winds sighing.
She had never known the perfume of the flowers or seen the dew on thegrass.
In wonder, she saw a little boy and girl near her and heard them say,"Here it comes! Here it comes!"
As she looked away in the east she saw the glorious light that she hadso longed for. In its midst, in a golden chariot, sat a wonderful king.
The king smiled and instantly the birds began to sing, the plantsunfolded their buds, and even the old sea looked happy.
Clytie sat on the rock all day long and wished that she might be likethe great kind king.
She wept when he entered the land of the sunset and she could see him nolonger. She went home, but she could scarcely wait until the morning.Very early the next day her swiftes
After this, she came every day, wishing more and more to be like thegreat kind king. One evening as she was ready to go home, she found thatshe could not move her feet. She leaned out over the sea and knew thatshe had her wish. Instead of a water nymph a beautiful sunflower lookedback at her from the water.
Her yellow hair had become golden petals, her green lace dress hadturned into leaves and stems, and her little feet had become roots whichfastened her to the ground.
The good king the next day sent her into many countries, into dry andsandy places, that the people might be made happy by looking at herbright face, so like his own.
GOLDEN-ROD AND ASTER.
Golden Hair and Blue Eyes lived at the foot of a great hill.
On the top of this hill in a little hut lived a strange, wise woman.
It was said that she could change people into anything she wished. Shelooked so grim and severe that people were afraid to go near her.
One summer day the two little girls at the foot of the hill thought theywould like to do something to make everybody happy.
"I know," said Golden Hair, "Let us go and ask the woman on the hillabout it. She is very wise and can surely tell us just what to do."
"Oh, yes," said Blue Eyes, and away they started at once.
It was a warm day and a long walk to the top of the hill.
The little girls stopped many times to rest under the oak trees whichshaded their pathway.
They could find no flowers, but they made a basket of oak leaves andfilled it with berries for the wise woman.
They fed the fish in the brook and talked to the squirrels and thebirds.
They walked on and on in the rocky path.
After a while the sun went down. The birds stopped singing.
The squirrels went to bed.
The trees fell asleep.
Even the wind was resting.
Oh, how still and cool it was on the hillside!
The moon and stars came out.
The frogs and toads awoke.
The night music began.
The beetles and fireflies flew away to a party.
But the tired little children climbed on towards the hilltop.
At last they reached it.
There at the gate was the strange, old woman, looking even more sternthan usual.
The little girls were frightened. They clung close together while braveGolden Hair said, "we know you are wise and we came to see if you wouldtell us how to make everyone happy."
"Please let us stay together," said timid Blue Eyes.
As she opened the gate for the children, the wise woman was seen tosmile in the moonlight. The two little girls were never seen again atthe foot of the hill. The next morning all over the hillside people sawbeautiful, waving golden-rod and purple asters growing.
It has been said that these two bright flowers, which grow side by side,could tell the secret, if they would, of what became of the two littlegirls on that moonlight summer night.
THE WISE KING AND THE BEE.
Long ago there lived in the East the greatest king in the world.
It was believed that no one could ask him a question which he could notanswer.
Wise men came from far and near, but they were never able to puzzle KingSolomon.
He knew all the trees and plants.
He understood the beasts, fowls and creeping things almost as well as hedid people.
The fame of his knowledge spread into all lands. In the south, the greatQueen of Sheba heard of the wonderful wisdom of Solomon and said, "Ishall test his power for myself."
She picked some clover blossoms from the field and bade a great artistmake for her, in wax, flowers, buds and leaves exactly like them.
She was much pleased when they were finished, for she herself could seeno difference in the two bunches.
She carried them to the king and said, "Choose, Oh wise king, which arethe real flowers?"
At first King Solomon was puzzled, but soon he saw a bee buzzing at thewindow.
"Ah," said he, "here is one come to help me in my choice. Throw open thewindow for my friend."
Then the Queen of Sheba bowed her head and said:
"You are indeed a wise king, but I begin to understand your wisdom. Ithank you for this lesson."
KING SOLOMON AND THE ANTS.
One morning the Queen of Sheba started back to her home in the south.King Solomon and all his court went with her to the gates of the city.
It was a glorious sight.
The king and queen rode upon white horses.
The purple and scarlet coverings of their followers glittered withsilver and gold.
The king looked down and saw an ant hill in the path before them.
"See yonder little people," he said, "do you hear what they are sayingas they run about so wildly?
"They say, 'Here comes the king, men call wise, and good and great.
'He will trample us under his cruel feet.'"
"They should be proud to die under the feet of such a king," said thequeen. "How dare they complain?"
"Not so, Great Queen," replied the king.
He turned his horse aside and all his followers did the same.
When the great company had passed there was the ant hill unharmed in thepath.
The Queen said, "Happy indeed, must be your people, wise king. I shallremember the lesson.
"He only is noble and great who cares for the helpless and weak."
Arachne was a beautiful maiden and the most wonderful weaver that everlived. Her father was famed throughout the land for his great skill incoloring.
He dyed Arachne's wools in all the colors of the rainbow. People camefrom miles around to see and admire her work. They all agreed that QueenAthena must have been her teacher. Arachne proudly said that she hadnever been taught to weave. She said that she would be glad to weavewith Athena to see which had the greater skill. In vain her father toldher that perhaps Athena, unseen, guided her hand.
Arachne would not listen and would thank no one for her gift, believingonly in herself. One day as she was boasting of her skill an old womancame to her. She kindly advised her to accept her rare gift humbly.
"Be thankful that you are so fortunate, Arachne," said she.
"You may give great happiness to others by your beautiful work.
"Queen Athena longs to help you.
"But I warn you. She can do no more for you until you grow unselfish andkind."
Arachne scorned this advice and said again that nothing would pleaseher so much as to weave with Athena.
"If I fail," she said, "I will gladly take the punishment, but Athena isafraid to weave with me."
Then the old woman threw aside her cloak and said, "Athena is here.
"Come, foolish girl, you shall try your skill with hers."
Both went quickly to work and for hours their shuttles flew swiftly inand out.
Athena, as usual, used the sky for her loom and in it she wove a picturetoo beautiful to describe.
If you wish to know more about it look at the western sky when the sunis setting.
Arachne's work, though her colors were in harmony and her weavingwonderfully fine, was full of spite and selfishness.
When the work was finished Arachne lifted her eyes to Athena's work.Instantly she knew that she had failed.
Ashamed and miserable she tried to hang herself in her web.
Athena saw her and said in pity, "No, you shall not die; live and do thework for which you are best fitted.
"You shall be the mother of a great race which shall be called spiders.
"You and your children shall be among the greatest spinners and weaverson earth."
As she spoke, Arachne became smaller and smaller until she was scarcelylarger than a fly.
From that day to this Arachne and her family have been faithfulspinners, but they do their work so quietly and in such dark places,that very few people k
AURORA AND TITHONUS.
The beautiful youth, Tithonus, loved Aurora, the queen of the dawn. Hewas the first one to greet her each day as she drew back the purplecurtains of the east.
He made his bed on the green grass in the meadow that he might not missher coming.
Aurora grew to expect his welcome and to love the youth dearly.
One morning when she came Tithonus was not in his usual place.
As she looked anxiously around she saw him with pale face and closedeyes lying upon the ground.
She darted down to earth and carried his almost lifeless body to Zeus.
She begged the great king to promise that Tithonus should never die.
But alas, in her haste, she forgot to ask that he might forever remainyoung. Therefore he grew old and bent, and could no longer walk.
In misery, he begged to go back to the cool grass in the meadow where hehad been so happy.
Aurora in pity said, "you shall go, my Tithonus. To make you happy is mydearest wish.
"You shall be free from all care.
"You shall not be a man, lest you be compelled to work for your food inyour old age.
"You shall be a grasshopper, free to dance in the meadow grass all thelong summer days.